Key depth work steps

Principle 1 – Observing

Depth work is based on the idea that there are important thoughts and feelings and events that we are not aware of, as they lie below the surface of immediate consciousness. We need to find ways to pay attention to these thoughts, feelings and events in order to be healthier, more creative, and more ethical.

Principle 2 – Decoding

Depth work means decoding messages from under the surface and this means making sense of poetic and symbolic language. Under the surface communication may take the form of mental images and sounds,
dreams, physical sensations, body symptoms, hunches, or failures to follow through with our intentions. In each case, we need to figure out the meaning of the message that is trying to come through.

Principle 3 – Hearing

In order to become healthier, more creative and more ethical, we need to be able to hear and register messages from under the surface, even though that process may be uncomfortable, surprising, disruptive, or even painful.

Principle 4 – Integrating

Once we are able to hear the message from the deep, then the new information must be considered in the context of our prior, more conscious position or approach. It is likely that the new information may be opposing or indeed the polar opposite of that we which we were consciously thinking or feeling. The opposing positions need to be maintained and thought about, until a “third” way or position emerges, which it will, if we are patient. The “third” way is a creative integration of the different options we face.

Principle 5 – Acting

Depth work is only complete when we alter our behaviour to reflect the new insight or position. This may mean a new communication, or starting a new behaviour and stopping an old behaviour. Depth work drives our psychological development and well-being, and this implies acting differently.

Symbols and rituals in relationship transactions

Paradise Bay 171I was privileged enough to be sitting in a cafe near my home this morning drinking hot chocolate with a friend. The bill came in a tatty plastic folder. I did not consciously notice this, but my friend commented on the message that was being sent to us as customers in that important concluding moment of the relationship between us and the proprietors. I realised during the ensuing discussion how many of us are not consciously sensitive to the rituals between us. These rituals and the symbols we use in them result in the communication of the care or the lack of care we have towards others. I was reminded of how the unconscious or underlying positions we hold towards each other reveal themselves continuously, despite our best conscious efforts. And finally, I thought about how important it is to align the different parts of our psyche as much as we are able to, if we are to have relationships that support and enhance our mutual worth.