Erik Davis

Recent Posts

Lionel Corbett: The Value of a Depth Education

Posted by Erik Davis on Aug 11, 2016 1:38:11 PM

A depth education has value for any individual because it fosters the journey of individuation, and allows you to get to know yourself. To “know thyself” is one of the greatest injunctions in the history of our thinking, suggests Dr. Lionel Corbett, Jungian analyst and professor of depth psychology at Pacifica, because the more we know our shadow, the less we project it onto others, and the more understanding and compassionate we will be.

If you are a therapist, it enables you to realize that when a client presents with a specific problem, that problem is not the main area of concern. Rather, it is the attempt of the personality to deal with the problem. Dealing with a problem at a superficial level is like ripping out a warning light and not dealing with the issue at a deeper level, notes Corbett. A depth approach enables us to deal with the deeper level of the problem.

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Remembering the Role of the Body in Culture, Trauma, and Everyday Dynamics: An Interview with Dr. Rae Johnson

Posted by Erik Davis on Aug 1, 2016 11:30:20 AM

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, The Power of Myth

If you’ve ever had the experience of being fully in your body, you can likely relate exactly to what Campbell meant when he referred to the “rapture” of being alive. I remember hiking through a rain forest in Belize a few years ago in a mighty tropical rainstorm, boots sliding on slick, wet, red clay earth as I grasped at vines to pull myself up embankments. My leg muscles felt infinitely powerful as they worked in perfect harmony with deep rhythmic breaths that seemed to form in perfect accord with the sound of the rain beating giant fronds all around me. I felt lithe, powerful, sleek—almost panther-like—I remember thinking at the time. And, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. I was truly fully embodied in the midst of one of the most powerful places in nature that I have ever been, and I have never felt so euphoric, nor so alive.

This powerful image of my felt experience while in the jungle re-appeared instantaneously for me when Dr. Rae Johnson reminded me of this powerful quote by Joseph Campbell when we recently sat down for a conversation together. Rae is a somatic movement therapist, educator, and researcher, and also the Chair of the Somatic Studies Specialization of the M.A./Ph.D. Depth Psychology Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, and she offered some captivating examples of just how transformational embodied awareness can be—especially if it’s grounded in a depth psychological context.

Click here to Listen to the full interview with Rae Johnson (Approx. 37 mins) 

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Posted in: Trauma, Social Justice, somatic bodywork

What Attending Pacifica Gave Me

Posted by Erik Davis on Jul 26, 2016 9:46:09 AM

A guest post by Craig Chalquist, Ph.D.

From my first glance at the school emblem during an online search for PhD programs in psychology, I knew I would apply to Pacifica. Until then, what had come up in that search failed to appeal to me. The strange, magic feeling that swept through me when the words For the Sake of Tending the Soul of the World appeared announced something important at hand.

Of course, I went carefully over the time to be spent there, costs, schedule, transportation, etc. But at a deep level, the decision had been made. As a boy, I had been obsessed with City Beneath the Sea, a TV movie set in a future oceanic research community. Whenever the movie aired, once every year or so, I always had to watch it. The name of the undersea city was Pacifica. As James Hillman points out in The Soul’s Code, how often possible future directions emerge first as childhood fantasies!

Many of us arrive on campus under a spell that casts a sparkle of enchantment over the school, the instructors, the other students, even the grounds and the buildings. Sitting in orientation on the very first day, the arc of professors seated in front reminded me of the first Round Table Knights ever glimpsed by young Percival. When sunlight reflected off their shields, he thought these riders were angels. He followed them all the way to Camelot, where King Arthur wisely put him into the kitchen for a few years of discipline. He had arrived where he needed to be.

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Archetypal Reflections: Dr. Keiron Le Grice on Jungian and Depth Psychologies

Posted by Erik Davis on Jul 22, 2016 9:12:17 AM

A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

C.G. Jung contended that our personalities are made up of a multitude of archetypes, Dr. Keiron Le Grice, Chair of the Jungian and Archetypal Studies program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, reminded me when he recently sat down with me to share his insights into the field of depth psychology. Each archetype asserts its own aims, moods, and ideas on our personalities, influencing our lives on a day-to-day basis. Jungian and depth psychologies, by aiming to make what is unconscious conscious, offer an entrance point into recognizing and understanding the various deep forces that move through us from one day to the next, engendering a deep comprehension of the psyche and the motivations, instincts, and impulses that are at work in our lives.

Individuation, a term coined by Jung, is a way that we can come to terms with this multiplicity of forces, and to attune to a greater organizing force, perhaps looked at as “the god within.” An archetypal view can enable us to find deep meaning in life, Keiron notes. We live in a time when we no longer have a religious, spiritual, or mythological framework to provide orientation in our lives. To be able to turn within, through the study of dreams and synchronicities that occur to us, through direct engagement with the unconscious and through spiritual experiences, we can begin to find our own personal sense of meaning. When we encounter the numinous, (a term coined by Rudolf Otto and adopted by Jung), that tremendous and fascinating mystery that underlies our experience can ground us in our own spiritual and moral autonomies. We need to each find our own individual myth at a time when the collective myths are rendered invalid by the dominant scientific rational perspective in the western worldview.

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Posted in: archetypes, C.G. Jung

Pacifica Graduate Institute Celebrates 40 Years!

Posted by Erik Davis on Jul 20, 2016 4:08:34 PM

"Pacifica is a Mission within an Institute. The mission, "anima mundi collende gratia," (tending the soul of and in the world) has inspired a literal host of others far and wide-those who now carry the fire of the vision itself. The intensity of that calling is the seed impulse carried within the dreams of many. When cultivated, this soul spark, rooted in the animated presence of the deep psyche, opens to personal fulfillment and a more just and fertile planet. In an increasingly complex world, the scholarship and service of Pacifica's faculty, staff, alumni, and students offers a soul centered "intelligence" integral to what is being asked of us now." - Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., Chancellor, Founding President. Watch video below. Read More

Yoga Meets Depth Psychology: Union, Consciousness, Healing

Posted by Erik Davis on Jul 11, 2016 4:28:09 PM

A Guest Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

“The body is merely the visibility of the soul, the psyche; and the soul is the psychological experience of the body” —C.G. Jung

“Yoga is most often understood as the union of the individual with the transcendental self, with what Jung terms the Self.” —Judith Mills

In recent years, the practice of yoga has made headlines in the mainstream media as parents in U.S. school districts challenged its inclusion in the curriculum at public schools, insisting it amounts to religious indoctrination and that it violates religious freedom.[1] In the U.S. today, while mainstream yoga is largely focused on physical poses and breath work, historically it evolved over millennia in the context of the spiritual and religious traditions of India. As such, it is not a religion, but rather a philosophy that enables mindfulness and a sense of well-being, among other benefits. No matter where you fall in the debate on whether—and where—it should be taught to children, practitioners of depth psychology and those seeking positive transformation appreciate yoga for its powerful potential to heighten spirituality and increase consciousness.

C.G. Jung, who valued yoga for its evidence-based experiential approach, perceived “important parallels” with psychoanalysis. He made a comprehensive study of yoga, delivering multiple lectures over the course of several years focusing on a psychological interpretation of kundalini yoga. He asserted that as yoga, being the oldest practical philosophy of India, is the mother of psychology and philosophy (which are one and the same thing in India) and therefore the foundation of everything spiritual.[2]

Yoga, meaning union in Sanskrit, seeks to create awakening through somatic experience, cultivating states that connect us more wholly with something larger than our ego selves—the ground of being, the web of life, or what Jung termed the “Self”—effecting a transmutation of consciousness that stems from attention to inner experience. The experiential, embodied practice puts us in touch with our physical being and grounds us more fully in the earth, anchoring us to something immutable, even as our breath and movement serve to make us more consciously aware and to shift inherent patterns and blocks we may be experiencing.

 “Yoga teachers are well aware of how the practice of yoga brings awareness through the layers of the body, often dredging up previous traumas and somatic awakenings,” Cheri Clampett, who is a certified yoga therapist with over 25 years of teaching experience, and the co-author of The Therapeutic Yoga Kit confided. “When these two complimentary fields come together, they offer deep avenues of healing for the soma and psyche.”

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Posted in: somatic bodywork

Your Journey to Graduate School

Posted by Erik Davis on Jun 27, 2016 9:51:39 AM

We are honored that you are considering Pacifica Graduate Institute for continuing your education.  The decision to further your education is only the first step in the journey, the next step is deciding which program to pursue.  At Pacifica, we offer a personalized education that foster’s a deeper understanding of human experience, imagination and exploration.  With nine specialized graduate degree programs to select from, with three that lead to licensure, there is a path for everyone.  The low-residency program format creates a collaborative cohort learning experience built on the foundation of Depth Psychology.  With the option of choosing what degree level to pursue, whether a M.A, a M.A./Ph.D., Ph.D. or Psy.D, our students and graduates understand what they are called to do in this world.  With the many option available, we have created a comprehensive overview of our programs, along with links to the program information which contain FAQ’s, course descriptions, curriculum overview and faculty bios.

Video: The Application Process at Pacifica Graduate Institute

Contact the Admissions Office (805) 879-7305

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Michael Meade Interview, Author of The Genius Myth

Posted by Erik Davis on Jun 27, 2016 9:28:41 AM

A Guest Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

When Michael Meade was thirteen, his aunt, seemingly by accident, bought him a book of mythology for his birthday. Though he felt profoundly aligned with the book and stayed up all night reading it, it would take another 20 years before it became evident it was his path in life, guiding him to his current calling as a renowned storyteller, author, and scholar in mythology and depth psychology.

 “The soul’s way of being is unique to each person,” Meade wrote in his acclaimed book, Why The World Doesn’t End. “It was seeded and sown within each of us from the beginning and it tries to ripen throughout our lives. What exiles us more than anything is the separation from our own instinctive, intuitive way of being. We are most lost and truly in exile when we have lost touch with our own soul, with our unique inward style and way of being in this world.”

In a recent interview, Meade shared insights with me into his own mythological and depth psychological view of how—though we’re living in a radical time when it seems like the world is falling apart; when “nature is rattling and culture seems to be unraveling”—being in touch with one’s innate genius is “an unerring guide to what a person’s life is supposed to be about.”

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Posted in: Mythology

The Value of Multi-Cultural Perspectives in Depth Psychotherapy: An Interview with Dr. Matthew Bennett

Posted by Erik Davis on Jun 22, 2016 2:41:33 PM

A Guest Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Counseling is an applied healing art that helps us address suffering, enrich personal lives, activate our potential, to live more fully, and to develop more adaptive capacities to life in the view of Dr. Matthew Bennett, a psychotherapist and lecturer who teaches in the M.A. Counseling Psychology Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute. More, psychotherapists and counselors that have a depth psychological orientation are prepared for a “broad spectrum slice of the human experience,” which for Bennett, includes the ability to be emotionally present in difficult emotional circumstances or even to simply better hold and tolerate emotionally powerful situations.

Depth psychology is grounded in the humanities, Bennett reminded me when we connected for an interview on the topic, and therefore it can contribute to an individual experiencing a fuller and richer life. Being able to identify with different kinds of people and to accommodate varying perspectives are just some of the advantages that depth training can contribute to a therapeutic practice. In addition, if one is willing to be a student of the human mind, and of the context provided by mythology and literature, it all serves to “broaden us out”—in a depth psychological way.

Jung spoke of his own work in archeological terms, which does imply a depth that is “going toward the center,” Matthew points out. All depth psychological orientations anchor us, and mythology, storytelling, dreams—even reading fiction—each express some dynamic of what it means to be human. Each contains energetics that are useful in reconciling opposing points of view. That’s how depth becomes breadth, Matthew says. It enables us to countenance the deeper or chthonic layers of life and to draw closer to the archetypes, where things become not only more dynamic and more irrational, but also more powerful.

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Posted in: Counseling Psychology, Psychology, depth psychology

Peace Corps and Pacifica Graduate Institute Announce New Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program

Posted by Erik Davis on Jun 21, 2016 4:35:32 PM

LOS ANGELES, CA, June 21, 2016 – The Peace Corps and Pacifica Graduate Institute today announced the launch of a new Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program that will provide graduate school scholarships to returned Peace Corps volunteers. All program Fellows will complete internships in underserved American communities while they complete their studies, allowing them to bring home and expand upon the skills they learned as volunteers. 

“We are delighted to partner with Pacifica Graduate Institute to support our returned volunteers as they pursue higher education and continue their commitment to service,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Communities are moved forward by the selflessness of volunteers, and returned Peace Corps volunteers have unique skills and experiences to offer their local communities.”

Fellows selected for the program will have the opportunity to earn a master’s degree through Pacifica’s M.A. program in Counseling Psychology with Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Clinical Counseling and Depth Psychology. Fellows selected for the program will receive $1,750 per quarter for up to 10 quarters.

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Posted in: Counseling Psychology