What is Depth Psychology?


"I find that I have access to a deep sense of compassion because of depth psychology's understanding of how the psyche is affected by every experience, by our memories, culture, ancestry and even our biology." –Tayria Ward, Alumna Ph.D. Depth Psychology

The modern field of Depth Psychology originated in the work of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, two visionaries who called attention to the importance of what lies below the surface of conscious awareness.

This dimension of psychic reality is revealed in literature, the expressive arts of different cultures, dreams, and in the collective symptoms suffered by individuals and societies. Concepts at the core of depth psychology are central to Pacifica's degree programs. Ideas such as the importance of image, metaphor, and psyche in personal and cultural expression, and the interplay between the aesthetics of the natural world and the human experience, are deeply ingrained the Institute's curricula.

"Depth psychology could be seen as a long process of exploration and listening at the margins of all collective thought that now involves practitioners on every continent." Jungian Analyst Helene Shulman Lorenz

A Fertile, Expanding Field

Evidence for the efficacy of depth psychological approaches is growing. Study after study has shown that depth psychology has a longer-lasting and more profound impact than cognitive or behavioral psychologies alone. The power of the field is becoming ever stronger as contemporary scholars are expanding its reach in the light of systems and ecological thinking, neuroscience and other research breakthroughs, and applications to many new fields. We believe that the psychological life is an evolutionary development, alive in all the phenomena and systems of our world. Pacifica students and graduates help dream the field forward through their scholarship, creative work, and actions in the world.

"The study of myth and depth psychology opens the full range of the human senses and psyche -- for me it has enabled an ability to listen with more than my ears, to see with more than my eyes, and to engage life with passion and compassion." –Dana White, Alumnus Ph.D. Mythological Studies

"There is a gap in what is this new understanding between what others see, and closing that gap is what I think depth psychology is all about." Lynn Hynes, Alumna M.A. Depth Psychology

"...this long marriage between myself and depth psychology has been possible because I found in depth psychology a basic orientation to being that seeks to allow what is to be present in its animation and its difference. It is a desire for the liberation of being."-–Pacifica Faculty member Mary Watkins Ph.D., Seeding Liberation; A dialogue between Depth Psychology and Liberation Psychology

"Depth psychologists…love to look for signs that 'psyche' is speaking to us, and one way we hear her voice is through the presence of synchronicities." –Pacifica Faculty member Jennifer Selig Ph.D., excerpted from the compilation Occupy Psyche

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