Louise Austin

Collaborative Imaginative Engagement: Revealing the Emotional Experience of Educators Through Making and Working with Images of Countertransference

My investigation into the emotional dynamics of the educator involves two adult educators engaging in a collaborative inquiry. This research method - collaborative imaginative engagement - pioneers making and working with images of countertransference with a post-Jungian revisioning of Jung’s method of active imagination. If ‘image is psyche’ (Jung, CW13, para 75), then image making can illuminate the emotionality of the educator, revealing insights beyond conscious thought.

My research findings contribute to transformative learning theory. Whilst Jungian perspectives in this field elevate the role of the unconscious in personal transformation, scant attention is paid to unconscious dynamics between educator and learner and feelings stirred up in the educator within this relational matrix.

Rowland (2022) positions Jungian psychology as enriching arts-based research through taking seriously the role of the unconscious in ways of knowing and meaning making. I propose collaborative imaginative engagement, through emphasising the emotional and intersubjective nature of the research relationship, contributes to this strand of research.

I present an overview of collaborative imaginative engagement, comparing it with Jung’s method of active imagination (exemplified in the Red Book) that emerges from his process of translating emotions into images. I illustrate how my approach extends the intrapsychic focus of active imagination into a collaborative co-creation of knowledge. I revisit Samuels’s (1985) seminal contribution to Jungian perspectives of countertransference positioning the analysand/analyst within a shared mundus imaginalis. I propose collaborative imaginative engagement connects the relationship (interpersonal) with the image (intrapsychic) to overcome the ‘habitual division’ that Samuels argues is inherent within Jungian scholarship. Finally, I illustrate how collaborative imaginative engagement becomes a process of co-individuation between researcher and participant founded upon a nuanced awareness of emotions and the ways these may manifest in research.


Louise Austin is a third year PhD student in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies in the University of Essex under the supervision of Dr Kevin Lu. Her collaborative and arts-based inquiry investigates the emotional experience of the educator through a Jungian and intersubjective lens. Louise has 30 years of experience working in adult education in numerous settings to include higher education and global organisations. She is clinically trained in Integrative Art Psychotherapy and currently lectures at the Institute of Arts in Therapy and Education. Louise is also a tutor on the MA in Jungian and Post Jungian studies at the University of Essex. She has been course director of a two-year arts psychotherapy training programme and has launched and led the first professional accredited training in Creative Collaboration.


  • ‘The Wounded Facilitator: the gift of countertransference when facilitating transformative learning in groups’, Journal for the Association of Management (2018)
  • Education and Development, 25(1), pp. 59-67. Austin, L and Mackenzie, B. (eds.) (2019) ‘Creative collaborations’


© 2022–2023, Jung Institute