The Umwelt and Networks of Archetypal Images: A Jungian Approach to Therapeutic Encounters in Humanitarian Contexts

This paper attempts to develop a new framework within which to comprehend the interrelationship between the ‘inner’ and ‘external’ worlds, between the personal and social, and among the intra-/inter-/trans-psychic realms. It proposes the Umwelt as a heuristic concept to grasp and formulate these interconnections. Then, it argues that if we expand the Jungian theory of archetypes by introducing the concepts of ‘network of archetypal images’ and ‘collective structures of meaning’, it is possible to develop a more coherent framework to address ‘therapeutic encounters’ in the context of humanitarian work. The pro- cess of ‘therapeutic encounter’ is distinguished from ‘doing therapy’. An example of such an encounter is offered and a new reading is suggested of processes and phenomena that are often examined through existing approaches.

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