SYNCHRONICITY AND PSYCHOTHERAPY: UNCONSCIOUS COMMUNICATION IN THE PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP

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Abstract

Within analytic and psychoanalytic psychotherapies, the unconscious process and communication between patient and psychotherapist is central to the therapeutic work. Unconscious communication may manifest in a variety of ways including through synchronicity. “Synchronicity” is an acausal yet meaningful connection between an internal mental object and an external event originally described by Carl Jung and his contemporaries. Previous literature has discussed the relationship between synchronicity and psychotherapy but there has been limited attention to synchronistic events linking the patient and psychotherapist. Relational viewpoints that emphasize the therapeutic dyad and the creation of meaning in the therapeutic context, provide a contemporary framework for understanding and utilizing synchronicity as it surfaces in psychotherapy. Concepts from psychoanalytic psychotherapy including intersubjectivity, the therapeutic container, transference, and countertransference are explored in relation to synchronicity. Guidance for integrating and utilizing synchronicity in relationally oriented psychotherapy is provided. A clinical case study is presented to illustrate these ideas.

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