Know Thyself: A Kid's Guide to the Archetypes

ABOUT Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek
I am a clinical social worker and writer living in Cranston, RI. I have a private practice where I work with people of all ages providing individual and family therapy.



Know Thyself is a book for children ages 5-15 to help them explore the many aspects of themselves.  With illustrations of 12 different archetypes, children learn relationship, conflict resolution, and coping skills.  They are provided with space to make their own notes about each archetype and to rate each archetype on a scale of 1-10 in terms of how much they identify with each.

When my daughter Katrina was in the 6th grade, I asked her if she would draw a picture of "the Innocent" for me. She drew the picture that is on the cover of the book. The picture made me smile, and gave me a distinct feeling for both my own innocence and my daughter's. From there, I asked my daughter if she would help me depict a series of archetypes through drawings that I could show to children who came for counseling, similar to the feelings cards I used, in order to elicit more information about their emotional life and their relationships with others. I found that these images opened up worlds to me in terms of getting to know the children and families who came to me for help. I could see how even small children could quickly relate to the Wounded Child or the Warrior, and could tell me about the emotional struggles they were having. I had always been deeply curious about archetypes. I had belonged to a Friends of Carl Jung group in Providence before entering graduate school, and enjoyed reading about archetypes in books by James Hillman, Christine Downing, and Carol Pearson. I began to read and research more about Carl Jung, and to learn about how images of archetypes were expressed for him through his artwork and writings in The Red Book. I also have an interest in Internal Family Systems, which is a school of therapy that helps an individual define their different emotional "parts" and then integrate them using their curious and compassionate leader part. It occurred to me that a valuable tool might be a book that introduces children to a spectrum of the archetypes and helps them to work with their parts to develop internal harmony. Putting these different ideas together, and thinking about my practice of psychotherapy with children and families, I decided to create an identity development workbook for children and young adults about the archetypes. The book is meant to stimulate reflection and self-awareness and build in coping skills early on in life. I see it as a work-in-progress and welcome your feedback and suggestions.