Although Jung was wary of founding a "school" of psychology, (he was once rumored to have said, "Thank God I am Jung and not a Jungian."), he did develop a distinctive approach to the study of the human psyche. Through his early years working in a Swiss hospital with psychotic patients and collaborating with Freud and the burgeoning psychoanalytic community (eventually he broke away from Freud and fell into a deep depression for several years as a result), he gained a close look at the mysterious depths of the human unconscious. Fascinated by what he saw (and spurred on with even more passion by the experiences and questions of his personal life) he devoted his life to the exploration of the unconscious. Identifying not experimental natural science as the best means to this end, but rather the world of dream, myth, and psychopathology, Jung sought to understand psychology through the study of the humanities.

The ultimate goal of Jung's life work was the reconciliation of the life of the individual with the world of the supra-personal archetypes. He came to see the individual's encounter with the unconscious as central to this process. The human experiences the unconscious through symbols encountered in all aspects of life: in dreams, art, religion, and the symbolic dramas we enact in our relationships and life pursuits. Essential to the encounter with the unconscious, and the reconciliation of the individual's consciousness with this broader world, is learning this symbolic language. Only through attention and openness to this world (which is quite foreign to the modern Western mind) is the individual able to harmonize his or her life with these suprapersonal archetypal forces.

"Neurosis" results from a disharmony between the individual's consciousness and the greater archetypal world. The aim of psychotherapy is to assist the individual in restablishing a healthy relationship to the unconscious (neither being swamped by it--a state characteristic of psychosis--nor completely shut off from it--a state that results in malaise, empty consumerism, narcissism, and a life cut off from deeper meaning). The encounter between consciousness and the symbols arising from the unconscious enriches life and promotes psychological development. Jung considered this process of psychological growth and maturation (which he called the process of individuation) to be of critical importance to the human being, and ultimately to modern society.

In order to undergo the individuation process, the individual must allow herself to be open to the parts of herself beyond her own ego. In order to do this, the modern individual can pay attention to her dreams, explore the world of religion and spirituality, and question the assumptions of the operant societal worldview (rather than just blindly live life in accordance with dominant norms and assumptions).