What is Process Work?
Process Work is “a multicultural, multileveled awareness practice” (Arnold Mindell)
Process Work, called also “process oriented psychology” is a theory that describes the flow of subjective experience of a person, couple, or group, as well as a practice of facilitating this flow of experiences on various levels of perception.
It is also an attitude towards life and ourselves. It is based on an assumption that our difficulties and troubles, which are so often the source of suffering, contain the seed of a solution to these problems – and more. Our daily worries, relationship problems, dreams, bad moods, physical symptoms, fears and altered states of consciousness, if approached with awareness and curiosity, can lead to new information about ourselves and show the way towards more fulfilling life.
Beginning and development
Process Work has been developed by Arnold Mindell, his students and co-workers in 70-ties and 80-ties in Zurich, Switzerland. Mindell discovered that body symptoms, like dreams, bring the information from our unconscious mind. This information refers not only to the causes of the problem, but most of all, contains the beginning of the potential solution.
Process Work has its roots in Taoism, various spiritual traditions of the world, Shamanism, Jungian Psychology, Gestalt, transpersonal and humanistic psychology, modern physics and social activist movements supporting democracy and equality.
Process Work is a process itself – it changes and develops, embracing new domains and levels of human experience. It is applied as a therapeutic practice to work with variety of individual issues (including physical symptoms, everyday problems, dreams, relationship problems, difficult states of consciousness, near death experiences, and trances including coma. It takes to account political and social aspects of individual problems. Process Work is also as a way to understand and work with couples, groups and organizations.
The term “process” refers to the flow of signals perceived by an observer. We look at the structure of the process in terms of channels, primary and secondary aspects, and various levels of perception.
Levels of perception
Process work describes experience in terms of three different realms, which are not clearly separated. As Mindell says, “Reality comes from Dreaming”. “Dreaming” has different names: Tao that cannot be named, Great Spirit, God… Here, it is called the Essence level – the root of patterns that present themselves in forms of dream images and various subjective experiences and materialize in Consensus Reality.
Consensus Reality - the everyday reality that most people consider to be “real” or “objective”; “socially constructed reality”. Signals are considered to be “real”; last long enough to be caught by regular attention. They can be easily verbalized. Perception in this realm is usually organized through and around the momentary identity, the “little I”.
Dreamland: it is the realm of subjective, dreamlike experiences and signals, such as images from our dreams, emotions, inner body experiences etc. Here we can find patterns that materialize in Consensus Reality. Signals are subtle, with short “life span”; they are often difficult to verbalize.
Essence level is the core or seed from which the experiences in Dreamland and Consensus Reality arise. It is non-dualistic, beyond ordinary space and time. This is the spiritual, cosmic realm experienced in deep mediation or ecstatic moments. From here pre-signals, “quantum flirts” arise - the tendencies before being formed into clear signals.
Primary process – experiences that we identify with, more conscious, intentional, controllable
Secondary process – experiences that “happen to us”, unintentional, less conscious
Edge – a boundary of the identity, supported by cultural and personal belief systems
Secondary process at any given moment contains the information that is potentially useful. The “art” of Process Work is to unfold the unknown aspects of experience (experiences from “Dreamland”, “quantum flirts” from the Essence level) and find their meaning for a person or group.
The process appears in various forms. In Process Work practice the most common way to differentiate the mode of experience is through sensory grounded and composite channels:
Main goals of Process Work:
to facilitate the flow of perception, embracing its different aspects and levels
to facilitate relationships between parts (inside of a person as well as outside:
in relationships, groups, in the world)
to help to integrate new patterns into everyday life
to increase awareness
For more information look at: