Mental health therapist Machiel Klerk helps bring Carl Jung’s theories to UtahApr 22, 2021 12h15 ● By Sona Schmidt Harris
Machiel Klerk addresses a crowd at a Jung Platform event. Klerk is the founder of Jung Platform. (Photo courtesy of Matthias Busche)
By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]
It was a dark and foggy night (literally) when Machiel Klerk first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in January 2004. He didn’t know then that Utah would become his home. He had just come back from a year of walking through Asia with a backpack and wanted to try what he called “an interesting six months in corporate America.”
He is still here 17 years later.
Born in South Africa, Klerk spent a lot of his childhood in Holland. He is comfortable on camera where he often appears on Jung Platform (jungplatform.com), which he founded in 2011. He created Jung Platform based on a dream he had wherein he saw Carl Jung working on a platform near a lake. Klerk, a dream specialist, took it as a sign, and the “platform” was born.
Previously, Klerk founded the Jung Society of Utah in 2009 from which he has now stepped away as president. The theories of Jung resonated with Klerk, so much so that he studied at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland.
“I feel this deep gratitude towards the world of dreams and its inhabitants, and I want to provide ways to think about dreams and really practical ways of being with the dream that can help people to live more soulfully and meaningfully,” he said.
Klerk is devoted to helping people access their dreams and learn about the theories of Jung, one of which is synchronicity.
“Listen to synchronicity—these meaningful coincidences—whether you think about your friend, and there the phone goes…,” he said. “It doesn’t always mean something, but it allows one to ponder—be deeper in touch with one’s own self.”
Klerk hopes that dreams become more important in the West. “We don’t give it the power we used to, and there are several explanations for that,” he said. “The development of the intellect, which is such a helpful tool, might have squeezed out the world of imagination.”
He further stated, “The church does not talk a lot about it despite that in the Bible there are some big dreamers like Joseph and Daniel and people that had prophetic dreams or big dreams.”
Still, Klerk is hopeful. He believes that if people start writing down their dreams, they will soon see that they have helpful dreams that will inform, warn about danger and offer suggestions.
“And if there were enough people that think it works, we might start asking at the breakfast table and families about dreams,” he said.
In addition to being a Jungian expert and dream specialist, Klerk is also a licensed therapist. He lives in the Sugar House/South Salt Lake area where he has been since 2015.
A world traveler and globally educated, Klerk has studied approaches to psychology and dreams in many cultures. He noted differences between belief systems regarding why people go to the psychologist.
“For example, if I look at the more indigenous cultures in Africa where I have been, especially in the South, their people have a higher tendency to go for more spiritual problems or knowing what the ancestors say or connecting with spirit guides or getting rid of something.”
“Getting rid” of trauma is something we seek here in the West, and Klerk practices “Embodied Imagination” techniques to help his clients do this.
“More and more you see that the trauma cannot really be fixed by talking only,” Klerk said. “The trauma is really something that has manifested in the body, and to deal with trauma and engage with the trauma, the whole body goes into fight and flight response, and you have to learn ways of self-soothing, make sure the body can feel safe again.”
For instance, Klerk asserts that anxiety is often felt in the stomach area. By engaging with the body where these emotions are located, he believes that people can work through trauma in remarkable ways.
If you would like to learn more about the Jung Society of Utah, Jung Platform, or Klerk’s work as a therapist, visit his website at: www.machielklerk.com.