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What is Depth Psychology? The Astro Psyche Podcast, Ep. 4

In this Episode 4 of The Astro Psyche Podcast, I briefly answer the question: what is depth psychotherapy and how does it compare to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)?

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Disclaimer: this video may feel therapeutic but it is not therapy. This video and/or discussions about astrology and depth psychology cannot substitute for legal, medical, business, or financial advice, or professional mental health care.


Hey there welcome, I hope you're doing well! I'm Shawna your astrologer and this is episode four of The Astro Psyche Podcast. Today we'll be talking about: What is Depth Psychotherapy? I'll be elaborating my thoughts on this as well as incorporating an argument for why astrology is so relevant for depth psychotherapy and that it pairs so well.

If you're new here, welcome. I'm so happy that you found me and I hope to inspire you towards exploring depth psychotherapy, depth psychotherapy as well as astrology. Please know that this episode may feel therapeutic, but it is not therapy. I am an astrologer and I am a marriage and family therapist trainee but I am not a licensed therapist.

So with all of those disclosures out of the way, this topic was inspired by a question that I got from a friend recently who asked me why someone would be interested in depth psychotherapy when cognitive behavioral therapy, which is the norm, is usually covered under insurance. CBT is brief, it's quick, gets straight to the point. Why would someone be interested in a longer term therapy, depth psychotherapy?

This really got me thinking about not just why someone would consider depth psychotherapy, why that would be more useful, but also what is it when we say ‘depth psychotherapy’. What is that? How do I define that? What is my understanding of depth psychotherapy? And so I want to share that with you today and sort of like pull that apart.

When this person asked me this question, I was reflecting on like yeah why I have a podcast about depth psychological astrology. I'm in Graduate School to become a depth psychotherapist and so of course this is very important to me.

But it also had me reflecting on why someone else may choose this and that had me reflect on why I initially went into therapy myself years ago.

In essence a person is drawn to depth psychotherapy because depth therapy provides healing. When a person doesn't know really what the problem is, and that was sort of how I felt when I sought out therapy as an adult for the first time.

There wasn't like a particular problem in my life. There was more just this feeling of something being not quite right and I had tried all these different ways of trying to, you know, improve my relationships to improve my well-being my emotional well-being and I was getting to a point where I wasn't feeling better and in fact I was starting to feel worse and again it was like nothing external that I could point to. It's just kind of like this feeling.

That is what depth psychotherapy helps with, and I think that people are drawn to that, especially when there's kind of an existential suffering and or it's the problem is more relational and the problem is more is the problem.

Sort of like in air quotes “the challenge” is more related to interpersonal dynamics or it's related to the structure of their personality, and so there's not really one specific thing that we can point to and say: OK, we Just need to change this.

CBT cognitive behavioral therapy is really great when there is one tiny specific problem. That can be targeted and worked on, but I find that human life is complicated. We are complicated and complex and suffering is a part of our life as humans. So I think that while CBT can be a helpful quick fix for some people, depth psychotherapy is really where it's at as far as sustainable and deep change and transformation and healing.

I want to read to you my thoughts that came up when I was reflecting on my experience and I want to share with you what I shared with this person who asked me this question: Why use depth psychotherapy instead of CBT therapy?

I said CBT is helpful when the problem is easily identifiable, specific and limited to one issue or area of life. For example, a fear of suffocation. Action or a fear of being out in public spaces or something like this. CBT theory works under the assumption that we can control our behavior with our conscious mind and thought process.

CBT is oriented around our conscious mind and our will to change. CBT does acknowledge that we have unconscious thought patterns, and that we have unconscious patterning that's going on that creates our challenge, but it really relies on our conscious mind to decide to change.

In contrast, depth psychotherapy is helpful when the problems are relational or they feel outside of our conscious. It works that psychotherapy works with the personality, structure, and unconscious patterns that correlate to the presenting problem. The therapist serves as a container and object to work out past issues in a new way. For example, a person who always finds themselves in the same problematic relationship dynamic may come in for depth psychotherapy to explore and re pattern their attachment dynamic. For example, maybe that person always falls in love with a critical or abusive or addicted romantic partner. Or maybe they're plagued with feelings of existential, meaningless that they can't shake despite having a. Highly successful career.

In these kinds of cases, it's not clear why the problem exists, and the person may feel caught in the problem no matter how much they work with their thoughts and try to make better decisions. In these cases, the person experiences that it's not possible to solve their problem through a conscious thought process. Along these same lines, some people may find CBT helpful for certain issues and then seek depth psychotherapy if their problem persists.

So I realize that's a lot, but that that was , in a nutshell, my answer. I want to go even deeper into this to explore why and how depth psychotherapy works, but I want to emphasize the distinction between working with the conscious mind. With CBT versus depth therapy is really about working with the unconscious. And repatterning attachment styles repatterning your relational patterns, and there's an emphasis on understanding what happened earlier in your life to create the person that you are now and that doesn't necessarily mean that we need to talk about all of that specifically. Sometimes that's helpful, but I find that simply the attunement and I'll talk more about attunement in a moment. The experience of attunement with the therapist is where the healing happens. I hope that makes sense.

At Pacifica Graduate Institute, where I'm receiving my training to become a depth therapist, defines depth psychotherapy or psychology as psychologies that orient themselves around the idea of the unconscious.

There's a lot of different traditions and methods within that. So what are those? So there's psychoanalytic psychodynamic. Those styles really focus on the attachment repatterning working with relationships and working with gaining insight into the unconscious dynamics that are happening and sometimes this is enacted in the therapy room. Sometimes it's more about talking through it. But oftentimes, the dynamic is brought to light through working with the therapist.

There's also Jungian analysis. Jungin analysis I'm finding is really more about interpreting and that may or may not be for some people. I find it to be sometimes when we interpret too much it doesn't facilitate the healing process, but Jungian definitely works with the unconscious and has more of like a spiritual bent versus psychoanalytic or psychodynamic.

There's also relational psychodynamic therapy which is really based on that attunement and the relationship between the client and the therapist.

And then there's sandplay therapy. Which is where there's literally a tray of sand, and you might want to Google this or YouTube it, and it's really interesting to watch. There's a tray of sand that the therapist has, and then they have all of these figurines and then the client will create a like a scene in the sand using the different figurines and with sand play therapy. That is typically no interpretation. It's creating the tray and then if you want to, you can talk about it, but you don't have to. The emphasis is more on the nonverbal process. I'm emphasizing that that it's less talking and more just doing. We could also say that expressive art therapy is this way too, when there's no. When there's no analyzing of it, like oh this, you know this figure, and this figure means this. I think that's so important because that process is a nonverbal healing phenomenon.