Bringing the Soul back into Psychology

By Elani Engelken MA, MFTC, LPCC

One of my previous posts gave a brief synopsis of the historical and cultural role of soul in psychology in the West. I received my masters in a program, grounded in depth psychology, an orientation started by Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Jung believed that the psyche or “soul” will move towards wholeness and thus the path to healing is integration of all aspects of Self: mind, body, soul. 

Also in my previous post, we explored how the Western interpretation of Freudian psychological text, attributed mystical and divine aspects of psyche to human mental processes. This was further exacerbated with the Western adaptation of the Cartestian split. The cartesian split is the oversimplified interpretation of Descartes work, the belief that mind and body are separate entities with an emphasis on mind over matter. 

I feel this prioritization of mind above and separate of body, and the exclusion of divine mysticism, has left the majority of Western psychological practice stilted and incomplete. In the last decade we have seen a return to incorporating body processes and wisdom into psychological process with somatic approaches like EMDR, brainspotting and authentic movement. I believe body practice is necessary to full efficacy of any psychological practice.

I am also seeing a consistent seeking for and calling in spirit or psyche into therapeutic practice. I previously shared the prevalence of religious trauma that many clients of my private practice have experienced in the past. We are seeing younger generations and individuals that have turned away from religious and spiritual practice. 

Following the depth tradition for healing, we see a major gap in the healing approach, without incorporating the soul, we lose a complete dimension of the Self. Jung shared that was remains unconscious in the self will seek integration through whatever means are available. I believe that what is unconscious is constantly speaking to us through dream, symbolism, feeling and physical dis-ease. It is no wonder that we see a culture struggling with a healthy sense of Self and deeper meaning. My hope is that as therapists, we bring Soul back into psychology and even when we don’t have the answers, which many times we do not, we can encourage the client’s soulful exploration. Could there be something more at play, less literal and more poetic. 

“When we relate to our bodies as having soul, we attend to their beauty, their poetry and their expressiveness. Our very habit of treating the body as a machine, whose muscles are like pulleys and its organs engines, forces its poetry underground, so that we experience the body as an instrument and see its poetics only in illness.” 

Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life

Elani Nicole Coaching & Therapeutic Services
Coach,Therapist, MA, MFTC, LPCC

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