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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751

Abstract

VAN WYK, Carel. A Jungian perspective on synchronicity in equine-assisted psychotherapy. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2016, vol.56, n.3, pp.795-808. ISSN 2224-7912.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2224-7912/2016/v56n3a5.

Synchronicity is not generally known in therapeutic modalities except for analytical psychology. Although there is a variety of literature sources on synchronicity and equine-assisted psychotherapy as entities in and of themselves, there is a dearth of information about the phenomenon of synchronicity as experienced during equine-assisted psychotherapy. The fact that this phenomenon is largely undocumented leads to synchronistic occurrences being labelled as mere coincidence. Consequently, the therapist and the horse behaviour specialist may fail to therapeutically process a synchronistic event with the client. This article thus aims to address the mentioned dearth in the literature by subjecting this phenomenon to scrutiny. Since a digital search of the literature yielded no search results for the combination of "synchronicity" and "equine-assisted psychotherapy"*, separate searches were undertaken for each of these terms. In the classic Jungian view, synchronicity is defined and described as the simultaneous, acausal occurrence of a psychic and a physical condition which is embedded in the constellation of archetypes found in the collective unconscious. "Sinngemäβe Koinzidenz" (concurrent/analogue coincidence) is translated from German into English as "meaningful coincidence", while meaningful coincidence instead translates to "sinnvolle Koinzidenz". This has resulted in a situation where the meaningfulness of a synchronistic event is emphasised over the ontology, the latter being Jung's intended focus with this phenomenon. Similarly, in this article, the focus does not fall on the ontology of synchronicity, but rather on how it manifests within the framework of equine-assisted psychotherapy. A distinction is made between equine-assisted psychotherapy and equine-facilitated therapies. In the first-mentioned form of equine therapy the horse is utilised as a tool, while in equine-facilitated therapies horses are regarded as fully fledged co-therapists. Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is distinguished from other forms of equine therapy due to the utilisation of prey-predator dynamics and the horses' instincts during therapeutic sessions. The present article describes the phenomenon of synchronicity as it manifests within equine-assisted psychotherapy by means of an example from practice. In this example, the client undergoing equine-assisted psychotherapy as a member of a developmental group session voiced a preference for one horse over another since it seemed lighter and thus more capable of flying away from her existing problems. At precisely this time the heavier horse jumped a fence for no apparent reason. This synchronistic occurrence is analysed in terms of the Jungian view of synchronicity by explaining that two psychic conditions occurred simultaneously and acausally, and that this held meaning for the person who experienced it. Thus, an understanding of synchronicities is developed through equine-assisted psychotherapy and the way is paved for possible further research. It is envisaged that a mixed-methods research design may be applied to collect qualitative as well as quantitative information on synchronicity with the ultimate aim of developing a model for future analysis of synchronistic events in equine-assisted psychotherapy.

Keywords : analytical psychology; archetype; causality; Carl Gustav Jung; collective unconscious; equine-assisted psychotherapy; Jungian; meaningful coincidence; mirroring effect; synchronicity.

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