Course Descriptions: Ph.D. in Depth Psychology with Specialization in Psychotherapy


Course Descriptions



The study of Depth Psychotherapy is anchored in a lineage of psychological theory that includes Freudian, Jungian and archetypal perspectives, and includes explorations at the frontiers of theoretical development in the field.

Historical Foundations of Depth Psychology
DPP 730, 2 units

This course presents the organizing perspectives and therapeutic approaches that have shaped contemporary Western psychology. Students learn the philosophical principles of psychological models from antiquity to the present era, such as those associated with religious traditions, medicine, and the schools of psychoanalysis, behaviorism, existential, humanistic, post-modern, and multicultural and cross-cultural psychology. The course includes a discussion of the history and development of psychology as an intellectual and scientific discipline, and depth psychotherapy as a practice.

Jungian Psychotherapy I
DPP 761, 2 units

This course discusses such classical Jungian concepts as ego, persona, shadow, animus/anima, Self, complex, archetype, collective unconscious, transcendent function, and individuation. In addition, it explores dreams, active imagination, typology, and transference/countertransference considerations in the context of Jung's approach to psychotherapeutic practice. Further clinical application of Jungian thought is demonstrated through readings of primary texts and secondary source material as they elucidate Jung's original work. The course pays particular attention to how various forms of psychopathology can be viewed on multiple levels from the personal and cultural-historical to the archetypal, mythic, and imaginal.

Jungian Psychotherapy II
DPP 861, 2 units

This course explores the phenomena of synchronicity, which marked a new creative phase in Jung's later work that has far-reaching theoretical and psychotherapeutic implications. Synchronicity involved a redefinition of reality based on acausality, nonlocality, and the understanding that the inner world of psyche and the outer world of matter correspond to each other. Students examine the implications of these shifts for clinical practice including the centrality of the dream, visionary experiences, and the religious function of the psyche.

Jungian Psychotherapy III: 21st Century Approaches and Controversies
DPP 961, 2 units

This course begins with an overview and assessment of Jung's work as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist—the clinical roots of Jungian theory out of which its concepts emerged. The methods of Jungian psychotherapy are examined from their inception (including in and around Jung's "Red Book") through contemporary modifications. Drawing on complexity theory, with observations of systems that self-organize and have emergent properties, contemporary developments in the theory and practice of Jungian psychotherapy are explored. The course discusses the role of the interactive field in the therapeutic action of psychodynamically oriented therapy and the unique contributions of the Jungian model, including the use of alchemical ideas.

Advanced Imaginal Psychotherapy
DPP 962, 2 units

This course explores the traditions that comprise the field of imaginal psychology, particularly phenomenology, and elaborates the unique features of imaginal psychotherapy that flow from these traditions. Students develop an imaginal approach to issues such as transference, unconscious processes, symptoms, and dreams, and foster sensitivity to the symbolic depths and metaphorical richness of the patient's and therapist's ways of using language. In this course, psychotherapy is regarded as a vocation in which the awakened heart is the organ of vision essential to healing.

Relational Psychotherapies I
DPP 763, 2 units

This course introduces students to contemporary developments in relational psychotherapy, which places human relationships and mutuality at the center of the therapeutic endeavor. Relational theory integrates a wide range of current psychotherapeutic approaches, including object relations theory, self-psychology, intersubjectivity, interpersonal psychotherapy, and some aspects of modern Kleinian and Freudian thinking. The core concepts of technique studied include the transference/countertransference field, the therapeutic alliance, projective identification, co-creation of the therapeutic interaction, attachment theory, the psychoanalytic frame, defense and resistance, insight and interpretation, the mutual construction of meaning, and termination.

Relational Psychotherapies II
DPP 863, 2 units

This course continues the student's explorations of relational theorists since Freud, including Kohut, Klein, Bion, and others. It focuses primarily on current trends in psychoanalysis and relational psychotherapy. Students look at approaches to specific clinical situations and pathological structures and delineate the dynamics and treatments of various psychological symptoms including narcissistic, borderline, and psychotic conditions.

Archetypal Psychotherapy: A Mythopoetic Approach to Working with the Psyche
DPP 762, 2 units

Focusing primarily on the work of James Hillman, this course first describes the Jungian roots and core ideas of Archetypal Psychology, including the reality of the psyche, its plural nature, and the importance of the image. We go on to examine Hillman's critique of clinical psychology and analytical practice and his call to enlarge the frame of practice to include myth, metaphor, and culture. Using case material provided by students, we will explore how archetypal psychology calls for a revision of many traditional clinical strategies and approaches.

Depth Approaches to Psychopathology: Alternatives to the DSM
DPP 760, 2 units

This course examines various original psychoanalytic formulations of psychopathology and continues with contemporary psychoanalytic and Jungian views. Students study the psychodynamic view of character formation and look at the major character disorders, neuroses, and psychotic states, from the point of view of both their phenomenology and their unconscious underpinnings. In each case, students explore the ways in which theorists of different schools have approached these disorders and offered distinctive psychotherapeutic approaches, especially Freudian, Kleinian, self-psychological, intersubjectivist, and Jungian contributions.

Interpersonal Neurobiology, Affective Neuroscience, and Depth Psychology
DPP 870, 2 Units

This course examines contemporary research across a group of disciplines that constitute a paradigm shift in thinking about the brain and mind. It illustrates the principles of transformation common to living systems, including various hypotheses concerning the evolutionary role of ancient subcortical, emotional, bodily, and imagistic processes. Students explore embodied models of mind/brain emphasizing intersubjectivity, nonlinearity, and self-organization, centering on the prototypic concept of regulation. Using our current neurobiological understandings of subjective states, consciousness, and the self, the course will describe contemporary issues such as the nature of the self and the radical interdependence of psyche, nature, and culture.

Arts, Psychology, and the Poetic Imagination
DPP 896, 2 Units

This course combines lecture, discussion, and experiential work to identify and explore the philosophical underpinnings of the relationship between one's internal muse, emotion, psychological states (including psychosis), and creativity. Students immerse themselves in the interrelationship of the arts, psychology, and poetic imagination to provide a platform for expanding affect tolerance and a greater facility in the utilization of countertransference in the course of the therapeutic hour.

Depth psychotherapy moves beyond a limited clinical paradigm to a broader frame that includes enriched connections to healing practices informed by literature, myth, spirituality, and a multitude of interdisciplinary studies.

Psyche in Nature
DPP 732, 2 units

The ethos of psyche-centered psychotherapy is not merely a construct of interiority. It has important implications for how people situate their lives within the context of a field or system. This course departs from the fantasy of the autonomous ego and engages instead with the image of ego as a constellation within the psyche, with the result that imagination about the nature of the individual relationship to the world also shifts. Students explore the implications of an ecological view of human interactions, a metaphor that offers valuable directions for understanding systemic perspectives on couples, family, group, and organizational psychological practice.

Psychotherapy and Culture I: Indigenous Healing Traditions
DPP 830, 2 units

This course places the practice of psychotherapy in dialogue with diverse indigenous traditions of counseling and healing from one or more non-Western cultural settings. By examining similarities and differences with other traditions students can begin to appreciate the deep common ground that unites all forms of working with the psyche. Students also develop greater awareness of culture-specific attitudes about pathology and health that tend to become codified in Western clinical practice.

Psychotherapy and Culture II: Digital Life, Cyborgs, and the Soul
DPP 974, 2 units

Contemporary culture has seen the human-machine interface decisively dissolve to such an extent that few people can exist without their technology, be it smart phones, titanium joints, or Facebook page. People now work, love, and play in cyber culture, unwilling and, in some cases, unable to retreat from it. This course examines the benefits and the costs of becoming cyborg—the enhanced human—which is an image of both horror and hope. Students explore their own dependence upon technology, discuss how digital life manifests in contemporary psychological symptoms, and consider how it shapes the practice of psychotherapy in the 21st century.

Psychotherapy and Culture III: Developmental Trauma and the Body
DPP 975, 2 units

The earliest experience of the self arises from the body, yet attachment wounds produced by trauma often generate dissociation, as though the flesh is no longer a safe and hospitable home. Original clinical work in attachment theory by Bowlby and Ainsworth, now confirmed and extended by contemporary neurobiological research, points toward the need to address the entire body-mind in clinical work. This course explains the renewed emphasis on somatosensory awareness in psychotherapy—a reversal of the durable cultural legacy of Cartesian dualism that affects so many healing modalities—and teaches the core principles and skillful use of a "bottom-up" clinical approach to trauma. Students develop a felt sense of the embodied psyche in their personal lives and in their professional work with patients.

Literary Foundations for Depth Psychotherapy: Narratives of the Personal and Collective Psyche
DPP 835, 2 units

When Aristotle wrote of tragedy in his Poetics in the 5th century BCE, he observed that some cathartic or therapeutic cleansing occurred by means of poetry. His discovery has remained true of poetry's power to assist psyche's healing by acknowledging its shadowed contours. Classic narratives have contemporary relevance. Through revealing the movement of soul in its struggles to know itself and its relation to a larger world order, literature holds up a mirror to the personal and collective psyche.

Psyche and the Sacred
DPP 920, 2 units

The psyche's capacity and affinity for sacred experience, as expressed in religion, ritual, and encounters with the numinosum, continually remind us of the importance of a spiritual consideration in all psychological work. Jung once said that all psychological problems are essentially religious problems. If true, this idea becomes especially interesting to practitioners of depth psychotherapy in the ways it calls for a revision of our notions of self, suffering, pathology, and of approaches to treatment. This course explores ways that a depth psychotherapist might work with the religious function of the psyche.

Psychotherapy Informed by the Mythic Tradition
DPP 921, 2 units

Freud, Jung, and many of their critics and followers have consistently and directly recognized the natural connection between mythology and psychology. Mythology is often seen as a kind of psychology in its use of images, stories of struggle and transformation, and in the way it connects us across boundaries of culture, time, and space. Students examine this historical connection between mythology, psychology, and psychotherapy as well as the mythic base of psychology and the healing arts.

There are two interwoven threads of praxis in this program. First, we engage in case presentation, group supervision, dreamwork, and consultation all aimed at deepening our therapeutic work with patients. Second, we step back from the focus on clinical practice and adopt the attitudes and methods of inquiry that enable us to propose and conduct research on the essential themes and experiences of doing psychotherapy from a depth perspective.

Thus, the courses on therapeutic practice are directly linked to the courses on research so that our research grows organically out of our therapeutic work and the work of our colleagues.

The Inner Life: Dreams and Active Imagination, DPP 780, 2 units
Throughout time and across cultures, dreams have opened the door to the psyche, offering contact with the transcendent and nourishment for the soul. This class considers Jungian and post-Jungian approaches to the dream and explores their careful integration into psychotherapeutic work. The main focus of the class is on developing personal ability and style in relating to dreams. We invite a lived experience of dream consciousness to be present by sharing our own dreams and images throughout the class.

Advanced Dreamwork
DPP 782, 2 units

This course offers students further insights into the dreaming psyche, including cross-cultural approaches to dream figures and the dream time that contextualize traditional psychoanalytic assumptions. It expands students' skills in working with night-time dream and waking vision as autonomous images from the psyche that may be fruitfully addressed at the personal, cultural-historical, and mythical level in clinical work. The course may also explore different modes of active imagination useful in paying attention to the dream images, including art and dance/movement therapy.

Foundations for Research in Depth Psychotherapy
DPP 784, 2 units

This course invites students to contemplate how the fathomless psyche affects the process of research. Taking seriously the core philosophical assumption of depth psychology, the reality of the unconscious introduces profound shifts in one's ontology, epistemology, and methodology. In light of this, what can researchers claim to know and how do they know it? This course introduces students to some of the key ideas that affect research, including psyche, archetype, image, and the imaginal, explains Jung's technique of active imagination, and teaches close reading and textual analysis as part of a general introduction to the practice of hermeneutics.

Scholarly Writing and Publication
DPP 785, 2 units

This course combines lecture and small group discussion to introduce and augment students' research and writing skills with the aim of publishing their work. The intention is to use the student's clinical experience with patients as the starting point and ground for theoretical contributions to scholarship in psychology. What research questions that have personal, professional, and cultural relevance live in the clinician's practice itself? The courses help students develop ideas for short journal articles as well as imagine and formulate their dissertation topic. As a result, topics may include a review of research methods and approaches, essential research skills such as finding and reviewing key literature, and a discussion of dissertation writing at Pacifica.

Dissertation Development I: Imagination, Calling, and Rigor in Doctoral Scholarship
DPP 832, 2 units

In this course, students begin to conceive of the dissertation by refining an area of interest into a focused research question. Students critically read and thoughtfully review published Pacifica dissertations to begin to understand the scholarly form and augment their background knowledge of the topic. In a combination of readings, lectures, and group discussions, students learn to critique their own scholarly writing, become familiar with the dissertation process at Pacifica as described in the dissertation handbook, and learn the purpose and organization of the concept paper.

Dissertation Development II: Qualitative Methodology
DPP 782, 2 units

This course provides an in-depth study of major qualitative methodologies, including their theoretical basis as well as their practical and ethical implications. It shows how questions of methodology are organically related to the research topic and affect the organization and outcome of the work. The emphasis on data gathering and data analysis is intended to give students practical hands-on experience working with research data, as well as guide them in choosing a possible methodology for their dissertation topic.

Dissertation Development III, IV, V
DPP 942 A, B, C, 2/3 unit per quarter

These seminars span the third year of coursework to slowly and organically guide students toward the completion of an approved dissertation concept paper. Each student sets individual learning goals, which the instructor guides. The course answers any and all questions concerning dissertation writing at Pacifica, including how to refine a research question, select and review relevant literature, choose an appropriate research methodology, articulate a thoughtful approach to research ethics, and form a dissertation committee. By the end of the spring quarter, most or all students will emerge with an approved concept paper. Prerequisites: DPP 932 A for DPP 932 B and DPP 932 B for DPP 932 C. Pass/No Pass

Oral Comprehensive Presentation
DPP 994, 2 units

A key aspect of doctoral studies is the gradual movement from the realm of student to the realm of professor. Whether or not a student ultimately becomes a teacher, each must still give back to the world a synthesis of what he or she has learned. In this course students develop effective presentation skills to prepare them for speaking and teaching, including an important capstone in the doctoral journey at Pacifica, the oral defense of the dissertation. The course is conducted like a professional conference, in which the presentations are timed and they conclude with a question and answer session. In addition, instructors will use their observations to discuss the principles of effective speaking and philosophies of teaching. Pass/No Pass

Case Consultation
DPP 750, DPP 751, DPP 850, DPP 851, DPP 951, and DPP 952, 2 units each

The goals of the case consultation courses are to integrate theoretical learning with practical experience, and to demonstrate a variety of approaches to practice from a depth perspective. Students present a case for depth supervision at least once per quarter. In addition to case consultation, each course will address a particular theme that typically mirrors specific material in other coursework including topics such as maintaining a mythic sensibility, working with image, dream, and story, issues of race and cultural diversity, the challenges of technology, depth approaches to assessment and diagnosis, transference, and ethical problems. During the third year, students present a control paper to examine their clinical work with one client in depth. Pass/No Pass

Case Consultation IV: Theories of Supervision
DPP 852, 2 units

This course combines lecture and small group discussions that focus on various processes of becoming a supervisor of depth psychotherapists. Topics may include establishing the supervisory frame; issues of authority, competency, certainty and shame in beginning to conduct supervision; differentiating supervision from psychotherapy (teach/treat dilemmas, etc.); building a supervisory relationship; models of supervision (psychoeducation/mentor/developmental/
interpersonal/intersubjective/self-psychological/Jungian and archetypal, etc.); transference/countertransference concerns; parallel process; enactments; impasses; evaluation; and termination of supervision. Special topics such as dreamwork, active imagination, psychodrama, ethics, and uses of other therapies like body work and pharmacological treatments within the supervisory context are also topics for consideration. Pass/No Pass

Case Consultation VI: Processes of Supervision
DPP 950, 2 units

This course, which is experiential in nature, helps students become the most effective supervisor they can be through the use of self rather than only considering technical mastery of a skillset. It emphasizes recognizing and engaging unconscious processes as they enter the supervisory setting, including parallel processes, enactments, and resonant and synchronistic phenomena. Students who already function as supervisors in their work will bring supervisory dilemmas to the class for reflection and discussion.  Students without this experience will work with classmates, taking turns practicing the supervisory knowledge learned in Case Consultation IV. Everyone will have an opportunity to present a supervision experience, exploring and developing competency in psychodynamic supervision through group discussion facilitated by instructors who have long, established careers as supervisors.  Pass/No Pass

Dissertation Writing
DPP 999, 15 units

Under the supervision of a Dissertation Committee, the student submits a proposal, conducts original research, writes, and defends the doctoral dissertation. This course traditionally follows the completion of all other coursework and successful completion of the comprehensive exams. However, students who demonstrate readiness may choose to apply for this course while enrolled in regular coursework. This option requires approval from the Chair of the specialization. Additional fees will be assessed for this course. Pass/No Pass

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