Get To Know Your Archetypes


A Coaching Model By Ekaterina Breous, Life Coach, SWITZERLAND

Find Your Archetypes

Archetypes Coaching Model Ekaterina Breous

People often come for coaching because they experience setbacks or breakdowns in their life or there is some goal that they are having difficulties achieving. To move forward and become “unstuck” it can be helpful to become aware of the problem, name it and then look at it from a new perspective. I found that the archetypal dynamics give us a creative framework for doing that.

What Are Archetypes?

Archetypes Coaching Model Ekaterina BreousArchetypes are universal patterns that arise in life and art. “Archetypes,” Carl Jung wrote in The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche,

are the living system of reactions and aptitudes that determine the individual’s life in invisible ways.

Jung thought that archetypes derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. While archetypes are always influencing us, we can take the driving seat by becoming consciously aware of them. Let’s take a look at an infamous example of an archetype – The hero. All Hero stories are similar – heroes usually begin in routine events, are “called to adventure,” and finally must rise against their greatest fear resulting in a profound transformation. An example of this archetype is Harry Potter who thinks of himself as ordinary until he discovers he is a wizard with magical abilities. Other examples of common archetypes include Mother, Father, Warrior, Sage, Servant, Saboteur, Bully, Manipulator, Child, King, Queen, Mentor, Rebel, Artist, Adventurer, Entertainer, Tyrant, and Villain.

According to the author Caroline Myss:

The inner guides are archetypes that have been with us since the dawn of time. We see them reflected in recurring images in art, literature, myth, and religion: and we know they are archetypal because they are found everywhere, in all times and places.

While the client may not be familiar with the terminology of archetypes, the archetypes themselves are present everywhere. They are in stories and movies – fictional and of our lives. Jung and Myss hypothesized that each of us is in league with an entire constellation of archetypes. According to Jung each of us has twelve archetypes that represent the main human motivations. Each of us has one or two dominant archetypes that can rule our personality.

The concept of archetypes is used in psychosynthesis, where archetypes are called “subpersonalities”, as well as in In Internal Family Systems, where they are called “parts”.

“Where there is light, there must be shadow, and where there is shadow there must be light. There is no shadow without light and no light without shadow”, said Haruki Murakami. So it goes with archetypal characters – there is a light and a shadow form for each of them. In coaching, this can be used in a similar fashion as the FlipIt approach. For example, if a client finds themselves in the shadow form of a Hero – cowardice, the awareness of having this archetype and its light possibilities – bravery, can be truly transformative. Through this duality, the archetype offers the client a “menu” of behavior choices to be able to choose or work towards a desired quality. Our clients may decide to use a particular archetypal trait. They can identify it first and then work on building it up supported through coaching. Let’s have a look in more detail at how knowing the archetypes can help.

Why Incorporate Archetypes in Coaching?

The coaching practice views the client as wholesome and coming from a place of abundance and resourcefulness. What the client is looking for in a coach is to hold the mirror and the flashlight for them – in order to guide them to a state from where they can level up. The coach is also there as the accountability partner for the client for taking the steps to get them to that new level that they may aspire to go to. A transformative approach to achieve this is to support clients to see themselves and their situation from a new perspective. Archetypes can provide a new set of glasses for looking at a situation in a new way. Myss writes: “Archetypes are the psychic lenses through which we view ourselves and the world around us.” Gaining the awareness of which archetypes dominate our lives gives us an opportunity to open to think and view and choose differently.

The archetypes represent patterns. By identifying and acknowledging an archetype, the client can work on their patterns – by either developing a desired one or breaking out of the undesired one. Often these are interconnected and by developing a new pattern, the client will come out of the old one that is no longer serving them. Importantly, the client can also identify parts of themselves that they are neglecting. While some archetypes may be dominant, others may be lying dormant. An archetypal mapping (a process to identify the archetypes described below) can help the client to identify those archetypes that are not currently expressing themselves. By working with them, the client may find new, untapped aspects of themselves. For instance, someone who is spending their life in a technical profession may discover that they have a creative part that would enrich their life if nurtured. Having the awareness of a creative archetype does not necessarily mean that the client shall choose to become an artist. However, the client may choose to use creative ways of expression in their work, such as, for example, storytelling and artwork. It is thought that people who have identified and are connected to all their dominant archetypes are happier and more fulfilled. Finally, once a client understands their team of archetypes, they can intentionally “call on” the appropriate archetype to come out in a situation. It can be truly comforting to know that you have your archetypal team inside you that you can call on at any time. Since the awareness of archetypes is best brought out by questions, the field of archetypal dynamics compliments the discipline of coaching and can be paired together. Let’s take a closer look at how it can be done.

How to Incorporate Archetypes in Coaching

Archetypes can be identified and explored over the course of several sessions. A rough outline of how it can be done is offered below.

Session 1: Knowing Yourself

Questions to ask:

What words come to mind when you think of describing yourself? What words would your friends, family, and coworkers use to describe you? What are your strengths, and passions, and why?

The outcome of the session is to identify the archetypes that are present in the client’s life.

The client would be first asked these questions and then guided through the cards of archetypes developed by Caroline Myss. The cards depict the 80 most common archetypes and describe the dual structure of each of them. The client would be encouraged to pick out those cards that clearly stand out to them as describing themselves. Questions about the importance of these archetypes can be further asked to strengthen the client’s understanding. This may lead the client to uncover additional archetypes that are present but are not dominant.

Session 2: North Star

Questions to ask:

Where do you want to go? What are your aspirations? These questions are applicable to both a specific situation and a general exploration of the client’s path in life.

The outcome of the session is to understand how the archetypes can help the client to achieve what they want.

The above questions are to be explored, followed by connecting them to the archetypes uncovered in Session 1. How can these archetypes enable you to achieve your North Star? What would need to be resolved for these archetypes to help you? If the client or the coach feels that additional archetypes may be present – the client can again be guided through the Myss cards to find out more archetypes. Once identified, the questions are to be asked again, including – What can be possible now, having uncovered this new archetype? If the archetype is in its shadow form, the coach can explore if the client may want to choose to “flip” the archetype and “try on” the light archetypal quality – How would the outcome look now?

Session 3: Inspired Action

Questions to ask:

What are you going to do to get to your outcome? Where are you getting stuck? How can each archetype support you along the path? What other resources do you need?

The outcome of the session is for the client to come up with concrete action steps involving the knowledge gained about their archetypes.

The coach can start the session by laying out the cards representing the client’s archetypes and prompting the client to describe them by asking – What possibilities come up when you look at these cards?

Session 4: Nurturing Archetypes

Questions to ask:

What do you need to do to nurture each archetype? What can help you to nurture each archetype? How can you “call out” each archetype? In the case of archetypes in the shadow form – How is it serving you? The coach can invite the client to imagine that the archetype is in the light form, and then ask the client – What is possible now?

The outcome of the session is for the client to have a strategy about which archetype they want to nurture and how.

Session 5: Integration

Questions to ask:

What are your archetypes? Are you in the light or the shadow form of each of them? If in the shadow, challenge the client by asking what might they want to do about it.

The session’s outcome is to bring it all together – for the client to understand their archetype, how to “call them out” and how to nurture them.

At the end of the session, the coach can invite the client to “tell a story” about themselves using the archetype cards.

Now that the client is aware of their archetypes, they can enter into intentional relationships with these energies. If that is not done, archetypes can exercise their influence. Anytime we see a pattern occurring in a client’s life, it is often the sign of an archetype asserting its will. Knowing your archetypes and being able to change the relationship with them can be a breakthrough approach to breaking out of the pattern.

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Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious – Carl Jung
The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche – The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche
Archetypes: Who Are You? – Caroline Myss
Archetype Cards:

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