An Interview with John

Q. What is your professional psychological background?

I have a Bachelors in Psychology from Elizabethtown College, 1970; A Masters degree in Human Development from FarleighDickenson University, 1973; A Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from University of Pittsburgh, 1986. I have been in private practice since 1994 and I assess and diagnose for a wide spectrum of emotional disorders and provide psychological treatment. I am a Pennsylvania licensed provider for behavioral health patients; certified and authorized in Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator; have been a student of Dr. Ira Progoff’s (Jungian) Intensive Journaling Workshops. I was Chief of Clinical Social Work at the Department of Veterans Affairs from 2005 until I retired in 2014, having provided treatment for groups and individual veterans since 1987. I supervised Behavioral Health staff doing psychotherapy, provided guidance for clinicians assessing suicidal clients, oversaw peer reviews in Behavioral Health, and evaluated mental health service delivery for veterans. I am providing psychotherapy treatment in my home office and see approximately 4 clients a week.

Q. How did Jungian psychology and dream work fit with this?

I have used Jung’s theory of Type as a basis of assessment in all my couple counseling cases. I have an extensive professional history with over 200 couples over 25 years and find this helps clients with understanding and accepting personality conflicts. I have led one/two day workshops on this topic. I work with the inferior function (Jungian concept) in psychotherapy illustrating how the shadow, the animus and anima pop up in dream images and can be used to guide a person to become more complete or whole (individuation). To transcend the duality of our beings by embracing the conflicts within us is a constant goal of my therapy; and to integrate our inferior or opposite mental function (our least preferred type in the MyersBriggs) into our conscious awareness is crucial to mature, neurotic-free development and good self esteem. I believe that the unconscious plays a significant role in the process of individuation and work with my clients on dreams using Jungian methods: amplification, making associations with the symbolic history of dream images in myths and fairy tales; and active imagination, making a dialogue with the dream characters in a dream sequence. These methods not only work to help interpret the dream story for the people concerned but add a sense of significance to the dreamer’s journey in life. I think that for trauma victims, helping them accessing trauma (which is often avoided and repressed in the unconscious) through dreams and through having them communicate their trauma story to me is a heroic achievement for a person on the road to recovery. I have analyzed many traumatic dreams of my patients and have extensive experience in re-working their dream images so they could integrate these images into their consciousness without distress.

Q. What is the benefit of having traumatic dreams revealed to a therapist?

Traumatic dreams are based on real traumatic events that happened to a client. A trauma complex exists in the unconscious of clients who have been exposed to traumatic events and not treated. This trauma complex usually manifests in a conflict between the client’s need of wanting to relate to people (especially if the trauma was perpetrated by a person) vs. the need to isolate from others. The ego archetype of these clients is actually split off into two parts: one ego state where the client acts with intimacy with people; the other ego state where the person wants to be alone and aloof from people to feel safe. These two ego states are dual personalities called autonomous complexes. There is a bonus of integrating these autonomous complexes into the ego structure by vivifying them through dialogues. The client names the two personalities and has a written dialogue with them, and thus assimilates their contradictory natures into their whole psyche – which is a healthy outcome. In psychosynthesis the goal is the same: to integrate these “sub-personalities” into the larger Self.

Q. How did your interest in astrological psychology develop?

I started studying astrology in 1970 and was apprentice to Mr. Charles Cook, an astrologer for Dell Magazine. This was before the time of personal computers and I had to do all the chart calculations by hand. As time went on I studied Astrological Psychology with Dr. Maureen Demont who was among the first to link Jungian unconscious and conscious contents with the planets. But I started to become dissatisfied with the disjointed astrological analysis of all these previous methods because they did not bring together individual aspects into a framework for the whole personality to be understood. I was looking for a method of analysis that pulled everything together. Then, in 2008, I found my answer in the Huber Method and its approach to aspect patterns. I became enthralled with this approach for a number of other reasons, so I enrolled on the diploma course. I am currently in the last unit of the 5th module and loving it. My tutor is Trish Crawford who is insightful and so very helpful to me as a student.

Q. Why did you decide to write a book about Dreams and Astrological Psychology?

I discovered through my long professional career that there are certain crisis times in people’s lives when emotional problems seem to escalate: leaving home as a young adult, developing an occupational identity, starting a family, mid-life crisis time when we begin to evaluate our lives and make changes, spiritual crises challenge us to find meaning in our existence as we age, and finally retirement when we move away from the active world. These developmental crises are why many people seek psychotherapeutic help and find a principled direction through this difficult period. In the beginning of my book I review the current psychotherapies available in the US, which unfortunately only emphasize cognitive behavioral models – which don’t really tackle people’s existential issues and elevate the meaning of their lives. As I have studied my own developmental crises over a 65 year span, I discovered that the Huber Age Point transits to significant points in houses and planets usually signified a crisis. Furthermore, interpretations of dreams of that period helped to clarify my ego’s position in handling these crises – actions to go forward, stall for a while or retreat. I find that stubborn ego attachments at these crisis times can hold us back from the opportunities for growth that come from psychologically changing the status quo of our lives. Dreams show us the way out of this maze. From studying my own developmental crises, which I highlight in the book, and referencing the dream logs I have kept since 1972, I found inspiration and direction on how to handle these crises. So I am saying that, from a single study point of view from my own journey, perhaps this process would also be helpful to other spiritual seekers in finding their way through their own life crises and finding meaning in their dreams at those times.

Q. Can you summarize the main message of your book?

My main message is that interpreting our own dreams can guide us to become more mentally healthy, better integrated human beings, and inspired – significant individuals. How vital and significant would we feel if we learned that in the recorded history of humankind, our obscure dream image had showed up in a different time, in a different country and had an importance as part of, for example, a hero/heroine’s quest that put a new slant on our current dilemma? Furthermore, dreams when paired at crisis times with Age Point progressions, can provide direction and guidance in how our “little egos” can handle these challenges. I want to teach people how to do this and my book is an instruction manual for at least the dream interpretation part of the process. For the rest of the story, one needs to study the Huber Method and Age Point progression and Transit interpretations – which are in my book as they relate to significant dreams