The Archetypes In Counselling

The concept of Archetypes is extremely helpful in therapeutic counselling and Emotional Process Work.

Ever since I was introduced to the concept of human archetypes in 2002, I’ve used the idea more and more in counselling with clients. People seem to naturally understand the concept that our personalities are all made up of certain common “archetypes”.

But what is an archetype? 

Each of us has different parts of our personality which are responsible for different aspects of our feelings, thoughts and behaviour.

For example, we all have leadership qualities, even if we don’t express them!

And we all have a highly developed mind with which we can think logically and creatively, and which allows us to access our intuition.

We all have a sensitive, feeling part of ourselves, which controls our ability to be in relationships with others.

And in all of use there is a part of our personality responsible for taking action, a part of us that goes out into the world and get things done.

When we talk about archetypes, we are simply giving these different parts of the personality a particular name which reflects their overall function. The four principle archetypes of the human personality are:

1 The Sovereign – the King or Queen. This Archetype is the part of you which acts as the leader in your life. 

Think of your world as a Kingdom or Queendom, of which you are the Sovereign. This Kingdom or Queendom might be your family, your business, or your place of work. Most importantly, each of us is also the King or Queen in our own life, the Kingdom within our heads. You are, to put it another way, the leader in your own life.

2 The Warrior. This Archetype is the part of you which goes out into the world and get things done. Your Warrior also defends the boundaries of who you are, protects you from others encroaching on your boundaries, and provides you with a strong sense of identity.

3 The Magician. This Archetype is the part of you responsible for thinking, the part of you which finds solutions to problems, the creative, problem solving part.

4 The Lover. This Archetype is the part of you which is responsible for connection with others, connection with the world, and connection with yourself. It’s the place where you feel the  magnificence of nature, revel in sensuality, and create connection and relationships.

Video – Introduction to the Archetypes

You Rule Over Your Own Kingdom

I use the concept of the Archetypes in counselling because everybody understands the idea immediately! Everyone can relate to the idea of their personality having different aspects which serve different functions. This is a neat way of representing the human mind!

And when you think of your personality in this way, you can immediately start to see where you lack strength, where you need to develop greater energy,where you need to reduce the amount of energy, and so on.

Let’s see how this works, starting with…

1 The Sovereign Archetype

The Sovereign is in charge of everything that happens in your world. Just like a strong King or Queen ensures their realm runs smoothly, a strong Sovereign archetype within you will ensure your life is in order and your kingdom is running smoothly. With a strong Sovereign, you’ll display good leadership, wise decision-making, and you’ll have a sense of vision, mission and purpose in your life.

But how is all that to be achieved, you may wonder? Simple! It’s achieved with the help of the other parts of your personality, your other archetypes.

So, for example, the Warrior, the part of you that goes out into the world and get things done, could also be called the Worker. It’s the part of you which is your powerhouse of energy, and which can impact the world. However, the Warrior archetype needs to be controlled and directed by the Sovereign or it may crate chaos!

2 The Warrior Archetype

When the Sovereign desires to get things done in the world, this other part of you, called the Warrior, will go out and get those things done when given his or her orders by the King or Queen.

Of course you’re not really aware of these different parts of yourself unless you take specifically identify them and work with them. That’s what we do in Archetypal Counselling. 

We can identify some other things for which the Warrior archetype is responsible, too. As you grow up, it’s responsible for forming your identity and developing a clear sense of “this is who I am”.

You see the Warrior switch on in little children around the age of 2 to 3 when “No!” becomes their favourite word. They’re learning about boundaries, they’re learning they are a separate individual from the rest of the world, and they’re testing their strength by asserting themselves against their parents.

When this process is allowed to happen freely, and is supported, children will grow up with a clear sense of their own identity. But if a child’s parents don’t like the idea of their child asserting itself against their will, they are likely to suppress that Warrior energy. The child will then grow up with some kind of emotional wound or “issue” around assertiveness, boundaries, and self assurance.

Although identity formation is a lifelong process, there’s another notable phase in the teenage years. As a parent, you’re in the role of Sovereign over your kingdom. It’s your job to recognise that what looks like rebellion in your children is a necessary phase in their Warrior’s development. Their Warrior is growing so it’s strong enough to take them out into the world and get things done without being blown off course by other people.

All in all, your Warrior functions like a general charged with the defence of the realm.

3 The Magician Archetype

I mentioned above that the Magician archetype is the part of your personality associated with thinking. This can be any kind of thinking. Top of the list is advising the King or Queen on different options and possibilities, and coming up with solutions. The Magician also works on finding and applying the specialist knowledge you require for any job. He or she also comes up with creative ideas, and accesses your intuition.

The Magician is a clever character, and sometimes a cunning one too. We all know how children and adults alike can manipulate the truth to make ourselves look better. We know that people can use their Magician archetype to manipulate so they get what they want.

We also know that honesty, integrity, and clear, straightforward communication come from the Magician archetype as well.

4 The Lover Archetype

The Lover archetype is all about sensuality and feeling. It’s not just about sex and love, though these are a big part of its function. In a broader sense the Lover archetype is associated with connection: with other people, the world around you, the planet on which we live, and indeed connection with yourself.

The Lover is the part of you which appreciates the beauty of nature, or the sensual experience of a massage, or the beauty of making love to another person. It’s the part of you which revels in closeness, intimacy and connection.

We’re all born with the Lover archetype fully active. You only have to look at how a baby and mother bond after birth (or at least how they “should” bond) to see that a baby is still a part of its mother.

Separation will come later, but for the first few months of life at least, mother and baby are inseparable. This lack of boundary is something towards which the Lover archetype is drawn. In fact, the Lover archetype may continue to seek union with another person for as long as we live. 

At its peak, the Lover archetype may lose its identity completely in the search for union with another person – perhaps in spiritual or intense lovemaking, for example. (This is the antithesis of the Warrior archetype, which at its most well-formed is clearly boundaried, and knows exactly who he or she is.)

And since the Lover appreciates connection and intimacy as well as sensual experiences, the foundation of all our relationships lies in this archetype.

If all of these archetypes were manifested in their full, glorious and powerful form, each and every one of us would have a balanced personality without any problems of any kind!

Ah! If only it were so. Find out how emotional wounds can affect us all here.