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Kairos: (καιρός)  Opportunity; seizing the opportune time and place for transformative change.     

"Kairos reigns where creative purposes are to be achieved.” (Aldridge, 2000: p.3)

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Kairos:  an opportune
time and space; 
   a window of opportunity - 
 “the right or opportune moment".

The concept of Kairos encompasses both time and space, and relates to:
  • "the auspicious moment"   (Kelman, 1969)
  • "Kairos in a psychotherapeutic context can be described as: ... an opportunity of spiritual as well as psychological transformation." (Gostecnik, 1997, p.56)
  • "a series of opportunities occurring over time..."
      (Myers, 2001, p.11)
  • a window of opportunity 
       (Sullivan, 1992, cited in Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001)
  • ‘the right time’, ‘timeliness’ and "also carries a spatial metaphor, that of a critical opening"    (Onians, 1951, cited in Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001
  • an opening, a portal
  • liminal time, as experienced during a rite of passage, enabling transformative change    (Turner, 1982)
  • "Chronos-Kairos, ... the dynamic concept of the emergent moment in therapy after a prolonged suffering or crisis." (Gostecnik, 1997, p.57)




Kairos: "the Greek's subjective conception of time, kairos, ... is the passing moment in which something happens as the time unfolds. It is the coming into being of a new state of things, and it happens in a moment of awareness. It has its own boundaries and escapes or transcends the passage of linear time. Yet it also contains a past. It is a subjective parenthesis set off from chronos. Kairos is a moment of opportunity, when events demand action or are propitious for action. ... It is a small window of becoming and opportunity " (Stern, 2004, p.7)

"In summary, therapy is the opportunity for transformation because of the specific nature of the therapeutic experience. In therapy, there is a significant dynamical interplay between the intrapsychic and interpersonal, past and present, which is reenacted and reactivated in a therapeutic relationship. It is a special time of vulnerability and a time of grace, when the change can occur. It also is a time of fulfillment when the person is ready to learn different ways of being and relating. Therapy, therefore, can be conceptualized as a time filled with grace, or Kairos, a time which brings into focus the whole human experience in a very specific way and gives rise to transformation."  (Gostecnik, 1997, p.58)

Jung (1957/2011, para.595, pp.59-60; 1957/1970, para.585, pp.303-304) wrote: 
"The development of modern art with its seemingly nihilistic trend towards disintegration must be understood as the symptom and symbol of universal destruction and renewal which has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically , socially, and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the καιρός - the right moment - for a "metamorphosis of the gods," of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science."

In Greek, two words for "time" were:
- "chronos" - linear, chronological time,
- "kairos"   - qualitative time, a moment in an indeterminate period when something special and transformative can happen. 

In Greek mythology, Kairos (Καιρός) was also a god who was the youngest of the divine sons of Zeus and was the personification of opportunity and opportune moments. 

In front of the stadium at Olympia there were two altars, one dedicated to Hermes and the other one to Kairos (Caerus). Hermes, also a son of Zeus, was a god of transitions and liminality (Pausanias, 1918).

Kairos is sometimes depicted as having a long forelock of hair at the front (by means of which one could grasp the opportunity as it presented itself), shorter hair at the back and sides, having wings on his shoulders and heels, holding a butterfly, holding scales balanced on a razor's edge, and with his foot on a globe (Cook, 2010).

"The earliest Greek uses of the term, in both archery and weaving, referred to an ‘opening, an aperture,’ through which an arrow or a shuttle must pass." (Hedaa & Törnroos, 2001)

Cook, A.B. (2010) Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, Vol.2, Part 2. Cambridge University Press.
Gostecnik, C. (1997) Chronos versus Kairos in Psychotherapy. American Journal of Pastoral Counseling, 1:1, 49-60.
Jung, C.G. (1957/2011) The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Jung, C.G. (1957/1970, 2nd ed.) Civilization in Transition. CW10. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
 Neki, J.S. (1981) Ausar ("Kairos"): and its place in creative psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Review, Sept.1981, 68(3):425-449.
Stern, D. (2004) The present moment in psychotherapy and everyday life. New York, NY and London: Norton.

Subpages (1): Symbols