By Dana Baduna, PhD, LMFT
This book follows an analytical approach to psychotherapy versus, let’s say, a cognitive-behavioral or RET (rational-emotive therapy) approach. The latter approaches try to fix problems from a present-focused perspective and look to change a person’s behavior, thoughts and feelings. Analytical approaches — e.g., those of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung — search for hidden connections, meanings, dreams, and look to see how these are interlinked in a person’s life. An example of an analytical question would be: “What ideas occur to you in connection to that dream?”
The Tao of Psychology is full of inspiring ideas about our journey through life and how it may be possible that everything in the universe is linked. It explores the relationship between the self and the world by uncovering subtle connections and messages while looking to them to discover new meaning for our lives.
Dr. Bolen, who is both a Jungian analyst and Japanese (you wouldn’t know that by her name), uses interesting examples from her work with patients and her own personal experience to vividly highlight coincidences and synchronicities which are then discussed as entry points to a deeper connection with our world. She suggests that paying attention to synchronicities — defined by Jung as “coincidences that are so striking as to imply meaning or consciousness” — in our inner and outer worlds can enrich our lives with new awareness, give us new understanding about ourselves and the situation around us, and allow us to grow. She proposes that, by pursuing this path, we are better off in the process.
It is one of my favorite books and I often enjoy re-reading it — I always discover something new to contemplate. Dr. Bolen’s insights, simultaneously logical and symbolic, about problems seem to always add a new dimension to my understanding of life.
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