Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries
Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change
Shamanism; Coaching; Depth Psychology; Collective Unconscious; Mystical Experiences;Q41516;
In this article the author discusses various similarities and differences between the healing practices of shamans and the work of therapists and executive coaches.The author also explores the extent to which the shamanic perspective can contribute to contemporary psychotherapy and executive coaching. The author conjectures that it is important to recapture humankind’s phylogenetic patterns in our present-day “rational” world, if we are to tackle the increasing alienation of humankind. The author suggests that the shamanic worldview does not differ greatly from that of the founders of depth psychology, Freud and Jung.While shamans are involved in “soul retrieval,” contemporary psychoanalysts, dynamic psychotherapists and many executive coaches are engaged in “self retrieval.” In addition, reviewing Jung’s writing, the author makes a number of observations about the collective unconscious, mystical experiences, spiritual healing practices, active imagination, and visualizing.The author raises the question whether contemporary psychotherapists and executive coaches realize the extent to which they are following in the footsteps of their shamanic predecessors. Furthermore, in this paper the author also addresses the question whether the shamanic, more holistic perspective will help humankind to reduce their sense of rootlessness.