Presentations, Workshops & Teaching

Letting Go and Holding On: October 28, New York, NY

Letting Go and Holding On: Essential Archetypal Tools for the Journey of Individuation

Saturday, October 28, 2017
9:30 am– 4:30 pm

A daylong seminar led by
Gary Trosclair, DMA, LCSW

Contact hours: Six CE contact hours for Licensed NYS Social Workers and Psychoanalysts for this program.

Jung suggested that in the journey of individuation the ego needs to let go of control and defer to the Self, submitting to a principle greater than personal identity. Relinquishing old stories of a heroic ego is essential to the individuation process. Yet holding closely the values that bring us joy, strength and meaning are also essential as we enter new stages of life. This talk will explore the essential role that these deeply embedded tools play in individuation, from the viewpoint of human development, Jung’s own life, scientific research, and mythology and religion.

We will explore the dynamics of Holding On and Letting Go as two aspects of a vital and ever-changing flow of beliefs that keeps life fulfilling. Using experiential techniques, writing, and small group sharing we will identify and explore the stories that we live by and how they affect our tendency to constrict or expand. Our process will encourage a bottom up process in which deeper aspects of the psyche can emerge and develop, rather than a top down process in which the ego controls and limits.

Methodology will include lecture, powerpoint presentation of related images, writing exercises, small group sharing, large group sharing, experiential exercises, and question and answer periods.


In November and December, 2017, I will once again be teaching the course:

Music as a Bridge to the Unconscious at the Jung Foundation of New York:

5 consecutive Tuesdays, 6:30–8.10 pm
Beginning November 7th

The power of music to move us and connect us with deeper levels of psyche is clear. Just as dreams do, music can reunite us with aspects of the collective unconscious from which we’ve become disconnected. Yet music has received little attention in the Jungian world. This course will explore the psychological functions of music for both the individual and the community through a Jungian lens. We will explore a wide variety of musical styles in their cultural contexts in order to understand how music compensates collective imbalances. We will also explore the archetypal nature of music and how it may be used or abused in the process of individuation. We will approach our subject matter from many perspectives, ranging from evolutionary psychology and neuropsychology to a personal experience of the numinous.


Letting Go and Holding On: September 15-16, Portland,  Oregon

Letting Go and Holding On: Essential Archetypal Tools for the Journey of Individuation



On Tuesday, December 1st, from 12:30 until 1:30 I will be signing books and giving a talk about my new book, “I’m Working On It In Therapy: How To Get The Most Out Of Psychotherapy,” at the C.G. Jung Center of New York, 28 East 39th Street. For more information, click here.


Beginning Wednesday, January 28, 2015, I will be teaching a 14-week course at the C.G. Jung Foundation of New York about the client’s role in psychotherapy:

The Alchemical Opus: What Does it Mean for the Client to Work In Psychotherapy?

Many people have little sense of what they would need to do in their sessions if they entered psychotherapy, and many already in therapy have little sense of how to use their sessions effectively. This course will explore the role of the client in psychotherapy, demystifying a process which may seem obscure.

Some have found a helpful metaphor for understanding therapy in the ancient art of alchemy. While alchemy was ostensibly about turning lead into gold, it was really about creating an incorruptible but flexible personality out of the dark, heavy, leaden events of our lives. It was never about magic, but about the work that goes into the creation of a more complete personality. Many of the symbolic processes that the alchemists engaged in help us to understand what clients need to do to change in psychotherapy.

While research indicates that it is the client’s participation in therapy which accounts for its success, few really know just what that participation entails. This course will explain, in a grounded and practical, way how that transformation comes about through the work of psychotherapy.  The course will utilize contemporary research, timeless stories, and ancient images to explore the clinical dimensions of the client’s role in psychotherapy. Both therapists and clients are invited to attend.

For more information or to sign up, go the the Jung Foundation’s website:

*   *   *

On July 16, 2012, I will be returning to speak at the Jung on the Hudson Seminar Series, In Rhinebeck, NY. The theme for the first week of the series is entitled “The Heart: It Myths and Meaning.” The title of my day-long presentation will be “The Enduring and Sustaining Heart: Surviving the Difficult & Creating the New.” Following is the description of the talk:

“Looking beneath the common use of the heart to symbolize romance, we find that the heart is more deeply a metaphor for the values of feeling, character, conviction and courage. These are the values that sustain our relationships and our individuation through depression, anxiety and challenges for growth. When we are heartbroken, these values have been lost and we feel alone and bereft. Healing the broken heart calls for a restoration of faith, not necessarily of the religious or romantic variety, but a faith that we can make meaning in life. If we can make this shift, depth of character is forged and relationships become more intimate. In this seminar we will discuss the possibility of cultivating heart, what it means to have and heal a broken heart, and the shadow side of the heart. We will explore film, music, religion, analytic theory, and references from The Tinman to tattoo to elucidate this most valuable treasure of human experience.

In the afternoon workshop we will explore what it means to live with heart and from the heart, probing the essence of the heart as it has sustained us, figures that have inspired us with their hearts, and what has blocked us when we couldn’t live with heart.”




Freedom, Individuation, and the Greater Good
Intersections of the Personal and the Political

As the individual is not just a single separate being, but, by his very existence, presupposes a collective relationship, it follows that the process of individuation must lead to more intense and broader collective relationship, not to isolation.
C. G.  Jung

Individuation requires the freedom to turn inward, away from the influence of the collective, in order to be authentic and whole. This archetypal intent is so powerful that it may override all other aspects of development, affecting individuals, collective movements, and the relation between the two. Sometimes wholeness requires us to turn outward after introversion, to participate in community, or even to serve it, as did the heroes and heroines of mythology, who return to the collective to share the boon they discovered on their inward journey. This outward movement requires that we remain free of the unconscious effects of the collective, yet finely tuned to the involvement that our individuation calls us to. This course will explore the complex psychological interface between freedom and community–local, political, and environmental–and the role of psychotherapy in navigating it.



C.G. Jung Foundation Professional Seminars
Jungian Perspectives on Diagnosis and Treatment

If we are not to submit psychic phenomena to the Procrustean bed of a preconceived theory, we must seek the categories for understanding the psyche within the psyche itself.
Edward Edinger

Psychopathology was originally intended to be a meaningful and empathic understanding of “the suffering of the soul,” just as diagnosis was originally meant as a “discerning or seeing through to wisdom.” But because these terms have become associated with reductive and negative compartmentalization, many analysts tend to shun diagnosis. Yet if we seek to understand the psyche on its own terms, by asking what it is trying to accomplish, we may be able to understand the possible meaning of distinct and universal patterns of human suffering without a reductive or negative attitude.

This course will explore common forms of “psychopathology” such as depression, anxiety, relationship issues, character disorders and substance abuse as entries into what psyche may be expressing, by viewing them through the lens of teleology, the purposiveness of the psyche. Diagnostic tools including symbolic and archetypal understanding, complex theory, transference, countertransference and dreams will be discussed. We will compare various diagnostic points of view, not from an either/or, or good/bad perspective, but rather from an inclusive standpoint that allows for the possibility of multiple levels of understanding.
This course is designed for clinicians who see patients on a regular basis, and is intended to give a sense of how Jungian analysis is actually practiced.



The Clinical Relevance of Carl Jung’s Archetypal Psychology
Westchester Chapter of the New York State Society for Clinical Social Work

Carl Jung is known largely for his investigation of mythology and its relevance to dreams and psychology in a very general way. Yet, for many, his ideas are far removed from what we actually need to know and do to be effective with our clients. This talk will address that gap. In particular I will focus on how archetypal and teleological (purposeful) understanding of a patient’s underlying dynamics can bring a depth and perspective that can be very helpful in our work. I will outline five broad areas of Jungian thought and give clinical examples to demonstrate relevance in each case.

While many schools have independently discovered and applied some of the ideas that Jung developed, and while there is certainly overlap between different psychodynamic schools, there is still a difference in the degree of emphasis on certain attitudes, and a degree of development of certain ideas that does make Jungian clinical work different.

This presentation is intended for practicing psychotherapists and psychoanalysts.



Duty and the Death of Desire:
The Psychology of Personal Freedom

I’ve often asked myself why people come to hate and resent doing things that they used to love to do, once they have to do them. Why do good careers become tiresome? Why does sex with a partner we love turn stale? Why do we dread going to that group we joined with such enthusiasm?

Of course there may be many answers to these questions, but the one I have been investigating has to do with freedom—how we can end up foregoing things we love in order to feel like we are free. Sometimes we end up cutting off our nose to spite our face.

But if we look closely, we can see that there is a real reason for it, even if we have gotten off-track in how we do it. It is important to have the space to be our authentic selves. It is probably one of the most satisfying things we can do. But whether we need to cut ourselves off from all duty in order to do that is a question that calls for differentiation.

As with other issues, the idea is not to look just at what caused us to be a certain way, but what the problem is trying to tell us. If we find ourselves avoiding obligation, it may be that we are trying to protect something very precious—our own growth. How we best do that is the question. I find it helpful to take problems like this seriously, but not literally.



Music as a Bridge with the Unconscious

A friend once said to me, “If I could only remember what Beethoven’s music says, I’d be fine.” His comment immediately rang true to me, but I wondered just what it meant. What does Beethoven’s music say, and why has it stayed with us for 200 years? Or for that matter, what do John Coltrane’s or John Mayer’s music have that can exert such a profound affect on us?

Having been a professional musician the first half of my life, and a psychotherapist now, it has only been natural to start to ask these questions. I’ve come to conclude that music helps us to connect with aspects of ourselves that are missing and that we need to be in touch with in order to feel more whole. When we are out of Tao, music helps to balance us.

Answering these questions has not been simple, but it has been fascinating. It has led me to read neuropsychology and evolutionary psychiatry, enthnomusicology, ancient history and archetypal mythology. Further, it has led me to apply Jung’s theories and work them through.

From time to time I teach a course on this subject with the following description:

What are the psychological functions of music? Looking through a Jungian lens, music can be seen as a bridge between conscious and unconscious for both individuals and culture. Just as dreams do, music can call our attention to discarded or unacknowledged aspects of the collective unconscious. This course will take a look at a wide variety of musical styles in their cultural contexts in order to explore how music compensates collective imbalances. We will also explore how music may be used or abused in the process of individuation. We will approach our subject matter from many perspectives, ranging from personal emotional experience of the numinous to evolutionary psychology and neuropsychology.



New Orleans Mardi Gras and the Dionysian Spirit

In March of 2004 I gave a talk about the spirit of Mardi Gras: the music, costumes, customs, history, and the archetypes and mythology behind this millenia-old celebration.

Why would a therapist be discussing Mardi Gras? Aren’t therapists supposed to deal with depression and anxiety? Yes, we do. But it is also important to understand the archetypes behind joy and freedom, and how they express themselves in our culture, in order to work effectively with depression and anxiety. In this talk I will discuss the importance of forging a link with the unconscious in order to gain a new approach to life when the old approach is no longer working.
Here is a description of that presentation:

Jung said that the Gods and archetypes were not just age-old textbook relics, but alive and with us today. One of the most visceral examples of this happens when Dionysus manifests in New Orleans each year for the winter rites known as Mardi Gras. His appearance has relevance and meaning even for those of us far away from New Orleans. This presentation will explore the significance of the Dionysian archetype of ecstasy, liberation, and renewal, tracing his wanderings and visitations through history up to present day Mardi Gras. Dr. Trosclair’s presentation will include slides and music of Dionysus in action in myth, and at Mardi Gras.



Jung and Wagner: Transformation and Musical Symbolism in the Ring.

This was the first in a series of four lectures by four different Jungian analysts about Richard Wagner’s cycle of operas, The Ring. The series was co-sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

Jung and Wagner shared an interest in the importance of bringing the unconscious part of human nature into consciousness through the use of symbols. They also shared an interest in the transformation of character. This talk will suggest how Jung might have interpreted Wagner’s actual music. It will explore Jung’s understanding of symbolism and its role in transformation, through the text and music of the Ring of the Nibelung, including a discussion of its primary musical themes or leitmotive. Examples will be drawn primarily from das Rhinegold, the first of the four operas in the Ring cycle.