Depth Psychology

Depth Psychology


Depth psychology was derived from the German term Tiefenpsychologie.  It was referred to by Eugen Bleuler as a reference to psychoanalytic approach to therapies that investigate the unconscious mind.  Theories were further developed by the famous psychiatrists known as Sigmund Freud, Pierre Janet, C.G. Jung, and William James.  The process of depth psychology began to explore not only the conscious mind, but also the unconscious and the relationship between the two.  The term depth is what is under the surface of the human mind.  It takes into consideration conflict, relationship, behaviors, dynamics of family, dreaming, and social interactions.  Depth psychology has developed in to a process of listening to not only what is said, but what is left unsaid and usually involves a deep thought process for the patient, but also for the therapist. 

Goals of Depth Psychology

Depth psychology invites people the opportunity to expand their mind.  Instead of pushing emotions down or becoming numb, depth psychology pushes them to allow the emotions to be felt - to truly go through the pain, grief, or any other emotion without trying to convince anyone that all is fine when it isn't. When losses occur one has to learn how to fully grieve them instead of seeking out a substitute place to funnel the feelings.  With this type of approach, the psychiatrist or psychologist can have the opportunity to fully understand their client and help them in the process of beginning to heal fully.  Depth psychology allows the treatment to become solution-based and to have the answers fully emerge from what is deep within the psyche as opposed to only touching the surface of what could be a bigger issue. 

When is Depth Psychology used?

Depth psychology is used in all kinds of treatments.  When patients repress emotions and are not dealing with situations that arise, depth psychology helps them to dig deep to find relief from these repressed emotions.  People deal with things differently from being diagnosed with a terminal illness to the loss of a loved one, and they can push emotions deep inside their minds.  Depth psychology helps patients learn how to sort out and cope with certain types of emotions.

How Depth Psychology Works

Depth psychology focuses on the individual and gives respect to their nature that is inherent and also what is expected in the culture.  When it comes to the individual mind, concepts are not bound but instead extended to see how the involvement of groups, individuals, and nations, the planet, and cultures have an effect on the way humans interact.  Depth psychology is designed to ask the deep questions.  It takes into account the effects of culture, belief systems, and traditions.  The primary focus is on the growth of the human psyche and what is important to conscious awareness.

For many people, depth psychology is the ability to have a holistic view of the person.  It takes into account all aspects of psychology and the implications of what is deep within and what is current for the individual.  This type of psychology encourages individuals to be one with the pain.  To accept it as part of what happens in life; by understanding it, one can also learn how to deal with it.  The patient can learn how to truly empathize and to not create these pathologies; to be truly conscious of what they are doing and how to not be judgmental or standoffish.  It teaches one how not to make excuses and to focus on growth and the proper well-being of the mind.  For some, it may mean to reach out into the unknown and to live a little more of a faith-driven life.

Criticisms of Depth Psychology

There is not a lot of criticism on depth psychology at the present time.  Depth psychology is not its own branch but rather a way to treat disorders of a mental nature by delving into the motives that are deep within the human mind.  Experts in the field discover more and more ways to heal the human mind everyday.  To gain entry into the deep recesses of the human mind, one must understand the behavioral and cognitive processes.  This aids in the way that therapies are carried out.  Without understanding, many psychologist and psychiatrists believe there cannot be true growth and achievement of the mind, body, and spirit.  It is vital to a person’s mental success to work hard and learn coping skills so they can move forward and not get stuck in a negative pattern.


Sardello, Robert. 2001. Love and the World: A Guide to Conscious Soul Practice. Lindisfarne Books.

Moore, Thomas. 1994. A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life. Harper Paperback Books.

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