Central to Jungian psychology is the concept of individuation, referring to the psychological evolution of an individual over time. Jung used the term to describe a lifelong expansion of consciousness, as well as the development of an increasingly differentiated personality. Jung felt that this was accomplished through the integration of unconscious contents and the reconciliation of opposites within the psyche.
Individuation is considered to be a process that occurs naturally over the course of life, though it can be enormously facilitated through analytic work. To the extent that we are unconscious and undeveloped, we are limited in our ability to respond productively, creatively, and adaptively to life. In fact, it was Jung's feeling that the greater the split between the conscious and unconscious mind, the greater the likelihood of a neurotic, or in some cases, psychotic disorder. For Jung, then, psychological symptoms frequently signal the fact that our psyche is fragmented, unbalanced, and ill-adapted to reality. Jungian treatment requires us waking up to the unconscious dynamics creating our suffering.
A unique aspect of Jungian analysis is the provocative notion that direction for what we need to deal with and who we must become to function fully, comes from within ourselves. Jungian psychology proposes that there is a source of symbolic wisdom within each person's psyche-a regulating center that Jung calls the Self--that contains knowledge beyond what we know consciously. The Self within us guides us into our impending inner development not only are we influenced by that which has gone before , but also by that which wants to become. To use a clumsy analogy: The acorn "knows" what the tree shall be. It contains within itself the" image "of the tree, and as the tree grows, it unfolds according to the image. Jung felt that the unconscious Self is constantly communicating information to consciousness, but due to its symbolic nature, we usually fail to understand its meaning.