The Trickster Archetype in Coaching

🤡 About the Trickster archetype 🤡

(And a bonus embarrassing story)


In jungian psychology the Trickster is equivalent to the Fool, the Court Jester, the shapeshifter, Hermes (in Greek mythology), Loki in Norse mythology, or the Joker in Batman.


The Trickster causes us moments of embarrassment or even humiliation by opposing our conscious position. For example, a very powerful, grandiose man walks on a stage only to fall over much to his humiliation and embarrassment. Looking for your glasses everywhere only to discover they were on top of your head. Dreams where you need the toilet and can’t find anywhere to relieve yourself. Shapeshifting from one form to another. Embarrassing Freudian slips at the wrong moment. All these situations are infused with Trickster energy.


The Trickster


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Let me share a story (I’ll regret this later):

I was a fresh graduate with a degree in Psychology and I was working as an online coach using my psychology background. I felt very confident in my abilities, like many fresh graduates who believe they know everything and are ready to take on the world. I was very high on my pedestal of oh-how-non-judgemental-and-helpful-I-am.


One day, a person contacts me, and starts sharing their challenge. This challenge was quite unique - definitely not the “regular” topics you encounter in coaching.


After they share their challenge, they ask: “What do you think I should do?”


“I can’t tell you what’s right or what’s wrong for you.” - I responded.


… Or at least that’s what I *wanted* to respond.


What I actually said was… “I can’t tell you what’s right or what’s wrong *with* you.”


😬 😬 😬

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I dare you to guess many milliseconds it took for my face to turn completely red!


Now, with 15 years and many more embarrassing moments under my belt, I can see that this situation showed me where still needed to work on myself. But more importantly, they pointed to me my own inflation, showing me my own limitations as a human, and that I needed to come down from that pedestal I put myself on.


The (often painful) purpose of the Trickster is to point our inflation back to us. It invites us to not take ourselves so seriously. To laugh at ourselves, like I can laugh at myself 15 years on after that story. The Trickster is the Court Jester who points out a painful truth about the King in an amusing way - often risking his own life to verbalise a reality that nobody else has the courage to say.

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✨ Archetypes can infuse our coaching practice with themes of universal, collective and existential experiences. Using archetypes in coaching enables us to shift from the perspective of our individual history, and zoom out to see the bigger picture. These are themes that that we as humans have been confronted with since the beginning of times. Seeing these archetypes at work in our own lives often reveal painful, but valuable truths about ourselves. Being able to integrate these truths means we no longer need to carry the pain, and instead uncover the gem that was hidden in this “prima materia” all along.


Do you feel comfortable sharing a story when you experienced the Trickster archetype in your life?


PS: As a coach and supervisor, my work is infused with jungian psychology. I am starting a supervision group for qualified coaches in February 2022. If you want to work on mastering your coaching craft, and jungian psychology appeals to you, send me a message and we’ll talk.

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