A midlife psycho-educational intervention based upon Jungian typological foundations

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


According to Jungian typology, the essence of most problems encountered in navigating the midlife journey stem from inadequate development and/or inappropriate use of one's inferior ego function, yet the use of typology has not been directly applied as a midlife transition technique. Implicit in Jungian literature, when one is familiar with one's inferior ego function and knows how to identify and contend with its outward manifestations, one is likely to cope with psychic conflicts more appropriately and may maneuver through the midlife years more smoothly. Conversely, when one is not familiar with the inferior ego function and its outward manifestations, one may become easily confused and/or distressed with the inevitable psychic conflicts, which typically surface during midlife.

This research addressed the development of a short-term psycho-educational intervention to assist persons in midlife transition, specifically addressing the development of the inferior ego function, and assessing how such an intervention would impact upon the midlife transition in terms of stress-anxiety and depression reduction. The nine-hour intervention was composed of three three-hour sessions.

This action study considered these questions: (1) whether there were overall significant differences in stress-anxiety and depression levels of workshop participants versus comparison group participants; (2) what kinds of insights about midlife transition would be identified by subjects as a result of participation in a short-term psycho-educational intervention focusing upon midlife; (3) what manifestations of this training would be experienced in participants' everyday lives regarding typical features, sensitivities, projections, eruptions, and expressions of each of the four inferior ego functions in midlife; (4) what strategies would be identified for coping with midlife change; and (5) whether there would be evidence of internalization of material presented in the intervention.

An experimental pre- and post-test design using an off-the-shelf stress-anxiety measurement instrument, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAD), and an off-the-shelf depression measurement instrument, the Personal Assessment Inventory (PAD), were used for the study. The two groups were compared according the results of the pretest/post-test STAI and PAI scores. Four qualitative components also were included in the research design (1) participants' journalized reflections; (2) researcher's observations; (3) post-intervention evaluation questions; and (4) post-intervention follow-up questions. Qualitative data was collected, analyzed, and reported narratively with supporting tables where necessary.

Quantitatively, a statistical analysis of the STAI and PAI indicated a significant difference among individuals grouped according to ego function and a significant interaction between ego functions and group membership. Another significant difference was identified in post-depression means of the two groups. Within-group comparisons indicated a significant decrease in state anxiety for the treatment group and in depression for the comparison group. Qualitatively, all psychological types in the treatment group were able to report tangible effects of the workshop in terms of understanding and utilizing their learnings in their everyday lives -- whether it be a cognizance of their own formerly unconscious behaviors or the behaviors of significant others. Participants further characterized the workshop as a very positive and enlightening experience.