What is the Third Realm?
Updated: Aug 1
By Maegan Kenney, M.A. PhD Cand., Transpersonal Therapist, Owner of Third Realm Integration
When I decided to name my practice Third Realm, I was knee-deep into my personal heart-centering meditation journey. I was also taking a Jung and Imagery course just prior to the launch of Third Realm, which is when I came across an article written by Haule (1997) describing the "interactive field"(p. 1) or the "analytic third" (Ogden, 2018, p. 1). I was struck by the way in which the author took the reader through the depths of a dense concept: that between the analyst and analysand there emerges a third interactive space that possesses a consciousness all on its own that allows a deep psychological transformation to ensue for both the therapist and patient. It's an invisible space comprised of the patient's conscious and unconscious processes, the analyst's conscious and unconscious processes, and the way both interact with the elements at play. The role of the analyst, then, is to observe and traverse both terrains helping to move the client through (Haule, 1997). In this process, the analyst can help bring the patient out of the dark invisible grips of their own unconscious mind and begin re-collecting and integrating their own unconscious projections (Haule, 1997). However, the therapist must first be conscious of their own transference onto the patient (i.e., the way they respond and react to the patient). Second, the therapist must be able to hold the space and create a container of safety to help the client reach an appropriate amount of vulnerability to break down their own psychic complexes and defenses.
When I read Haule’s piece, I was already trying to figure out a new career path for myself. I was working as a case manager for a company that had no longer aligned with my values. I was looking for something more. In fact, I was craving full independence in both my personal and professional life. I was burnt out from seven grueling years of working in the mental health field and felt suffocated by not seeing clients reach success in their lives. They were not thriving, and some weren’t even surviving. I was feeling defeated and frankly, I couldn’t wait to exit the mental health field. “I just need to finish my degree first,” I thought. At the time, I didn’t yet know that I would be running away from the most profound opportunity in my life to date if I had made my exit. As a result, I stuck it out and tried to change up the landscape a bit. I quit my job as a case manager, ditched the clinical psychology training program I was in and switched into a transpersonal psychology PhD program, and launched Third Realm. I dove in headfirst into my work feeling relatively unprepared to take on what was ahead. Yet for the four or five years prior to this change, I was working diligently on my own healing process using heart-centered meditation. Along the way, I was gaining profound incremental insights about my life's patterns, what role I was playing in the perpetuation of my own pain, and how to create change. One toxic relationship after another in search of something that couldn't have existed at the time was nothing short of exhausting. I'm still not sure how I made it through that period in my life (and I was already recovered from addiction for several years, so imagine that!). However, the heart-centering work was a game changer. It created the foundation necessary for me to take major risks with the intuition and stillness of my heart and see them through. I soon learned that this was the way into the Third Realm.
Each week, I supported clients with crystal clear awareness. I saw all that was unfolding before my eyes and at times, struggled to feel useful. I maintained weekly contact with my teacher who held the space for me when I needed it most. I sought her supervision when I felt like I was losing track of why I decided to become a therapist in the first place and what role I was here to serve with each client I saw. Eventually, things started to click. Questions I had been searching for were starting to get answered. During this time, I also decided to move 15 hours away from my childhood home to a town where I knew no one in search for peace and a full release of my life’s traumas. It was the best decision I've ever made. It afforded me the opportunity to delve deep into the parts of myself that I had long avoided, but without distraction and interference. Soon, my energy started to shift. I started to gain more confidence about my role as a healer and what that needed to look like in order for me to feel fully energized and aligned. I began to understand the projections of my own codependency patterns and why I wanted healing for people in my life more than they wanted it for themselves. The skies started to part when I began to let go of the many things I was still attaching myself to. Because I was able to stay grounded through this self-discovery journey by connecting into my heart’s center, I was able to take my healing to the next level. As a result, I was finding my groove with my clients. I let go of my need to fix their problems and merely allowed the sessions to unfold as they may while rooting myself in my heart center. I made sure to meditate on each client’s energy prior to each session and grounded myself into the space of compassion. Sometimes, sessions came with insightful chaos. Other times, they offered beauty in stillness. Each step of the way, my feet were planted, and my heart remained open. I was now beginning to grasp the nature of the third realm: “where our unconscious minds meet and the transformation begins” (Kenney, 2021).
When we have been granted the gift of participating in another person’s healing journey and maintain gratitude for how this union can also change us in the process, major shifts are created in our immediate atmosphere and beyond. This ride of life is remarkable, that I know. It comes with great responsibility and there is nothing more exciting to me than that.
May you experience the energy of the third realm at least once in your life.
With love and light,
Haule, J. R. (1997). SCHWARTZ-SALANT, NATHAN.‘On the interactive field as analytic object’. In The Interactive Field in Analysis, Vol 1. Chiron Clin. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 42(3), 548-550.
Ogden, T. H. (2018). The analytic third: Working with intersubjective clinical facts. In The Analytic Field (pp. 159-188). Routledge.