Author Archives: Elva Redwood

What is Processwork?

Welcome to The Edge, a blog about Processwork in all its applications and manifestations.  As a practice and theory of human experience, those applications are unlimited and as varied as all the individuals and groups who make use of it.  I hope these posts, by Processworkers in different walks of life all over the world, will draw you in and inspire you to discover how Processwork can support growth, creativity and communication in your own life and work.

By Elva Redwood, MA, PW Dipl., Managing Editor, The Edge

History of Processwork

Processwork originally grew from Jungian psychology in the 1970s and 80s, when Arnold Mindell practiced at the Jung Institute in Zurich.  Dr. Mindell’s deep curiosity and work with people on body symptoms led him to broaden the dreamwork approach and explore different sensory channels.  Processwork was born as one of the first psychologies to integrate somatic experiences, and has since grown far beyond psychology in its scope.

The group of students drawn to study with Dr. Mindell became a dynamic community who helped him creatively; to teach, apply research, and elaborate on his theory and practice of Processwork.  The discipline continues to develop and is taught with the understanding that each Processworker will make it their own and contribute their own expertise and discoveries to the whole. This original community has grown into a global association of practitioners and schools, both those without official Processwork credentials, and those with a Diploma in Processwork and affiliated with the International Association of Process Oriented Psychologists (IAPOP).

Influences on Processwork

Since its beginnings, Processwork has been shaped by many indigenous cultures’ wisdom, to which we all owe so much.  Most notably the Indigenous Australian knowledge of Dreamtime and the Chinese philosophy and practices of Taoism are fundamental to seeing the world through a Processwork lens.

Processwork Theory

The theory itself is elegant in its simplicity and application to any aspect of life.  As well as a tool for individual personal growth, Processwork’s model for identity and experience is equally useful for relationships and groups, both small and large, and any kind of conflict work.

Processwork understands human experience as a dreaming process which unfolds through sensory channels.  Our experiences are alive in Consensus (everyday) Reality as well as Dreamland – aspects of experience which are subjective and not necessarily agreed upon in a given culture.  At the deepest level, consciousness and reality spring from Essence, birthed and mediated by Process Mind, which is analogous to the ancient Chinese understanding of the Tao Which Cannot Be Said.

Channels

The simple channels of experience are visual, auditory, proprioceptive and movement.  Composite channels are made up of these simple ones and include relationship and world.  We are constantly receiving and emitting information in all these channels, though we are only aware of some of that information.

Primary and Secondary Processes

The information we are aware of and identify with comprises our “primary process,” the person or group we understand ourselves to be.  Information that we don’t identify with, which is often problematic in one or more channels, is connected to our “secondary process,” something outside our usual identity, which we are growing to become.

Edges

Between these primary and secondary processes is the phenomenon called the Edge.  It is our growing point, guarded by conscious and unconscious belief systems and contributing to misunderstandings and conflicts on all levels.

Attention to this dynamic of identity increases self-awareness, and therefore gives access to more choices of action.  Exploration and integration of secondary material leads to temporary resolution, eases difficulties, and opens a path to the next phase of growth.

Processwork is Useful Everywhere

Processworkers everywhere use this empowering paradigm to facilitate growth and creativity in uncounted spheres.  From individual psychology and inner work, relationships and families, Processwork has found rich applications in coaching, organizational development, and large-scale conflicts.  One of the most exciting applications for our troubled times is World Work, where hundreds of people meet to work on global issues. There are also dancers, painters, writers and musicians using Processwork in creating and performing their arts.  Teachers apply the theory in the classroom, and nurses use it in the OR. Anywhere there are humans, Processwork can be useful.

To find out more from these individuals, please read on in The Edge.

If you’d like to explore deeper, visit the Processwork Institute Bookstore and public manuscripts pages, check out Arny and Amy Mindell’s website at http://www.aamindell.net/, find a school or workshop near you at IAPOP, and take a class, or contact an individual practitioner.

Thank you for visiting us at The Edge!

 

by Elva Redwood, MA, PW Dipl., Managing Editor

Elva Wolf Redwood is a Processwork Diplomate practicing with individuals, couples and groups in Portland, Oregon, USA, and on-line.  She is a writer and a lover of dogs, fermented foods and knitting.  She is drawn particularly to work with artists, activists, culture changers and anyone addressing developmental trauma.

 

Sitting in the Fire: The World Work Approach to Conflict Resolution

Blog post by Lukas Hohler

 

When we switch on the TV to fighter jets taking off or “fire and fury” speeches, why does that grab our attention so much more than ongoing peace-negotiations elsewhere in the world?  Are peace negotiations just not as juicy as saber rattling?  Is there good reason we’re not transfixed by orderly people having rational peace talks about highly emotional problems?  Is it partly because many of those peace agreements will not last for long?

When Arnold Mindell first developed Worldwork in the late 1980’s, he said, “We are looking for something that is more exciting than war and more sustainable than peace.“  That is what attracted me to the Worldwork approach more than 20 years ago.  I have been eagerly studying and applying Worldwork ideas ever since, in my professional life as a conflict resolution practitioner and social entrepreneur.

What is Worldwork ?

Worldwork is an approach to group work and social issues which, unlike other paradigms, believes in the wisdom hidden within conflict, and the importance of all people involved in a conflict fully expressing themselves.  This attitude of inclusion is referred to as Deep Democracy, meaning that all levels and forms of human experience and expression are welcome to participate in a group process.

Roles and Ghost Roles

In order to facilitate a Processwork group process, we need to identify the main polarities – we call them roles – that express themselves under a certain umbrella topic.  We also examine what is being mentioned or talked about, but not visibly represented in the room.  We call that a ghost role.  

It is very important for ghost roles to be expressed for any process to move forward.  For example, if a group talks about history and the dead, the dead becomes a ghost role.  They are fundamentally important to what is happening but they are not expressing themselves yet.  In that case, we would invite the dead to speak.  Anybody who feels the dead can speak through them in that moment is invited to step into the ghost role and help it express itself.  

Other ghost roles that often arise include the founder of a movement or business, the vision of an organization, the perpetrator or the oppressor, “the system“, and more roles that we usually do not identify with.  Bringing in ghost roles has brought forward incredible relief in highly polarised situations, from social and political settings to organizational development.

Rank and Privilege

Worldwork also helps address issues of diversity, differences in the way we view the world, and how we experience those differences.  This is an area where humanity desperately needs to develop, since we are living in a globalized world and will be more so in the future.  We need to learn how to examine differences in rank and privilege and how these impact our interactions, as well as becoming aware of how each of us is powerful in our own ways and how that power can be used well.  Diversity without working on power issues is not likely to last and will result in marginalizing differences and separation.

The Kaospilots

After using Worldwork in various cultural and organizational settings, I had the pleasure to be invited to teach Worldwork at the Kaospilots; an innovative school for social entrepreneurs and changemakers, located in Denmark and Switzerland.  In both locations, the focus was on the school itself and the issues creating tension and conflict within it.

Sitting in the Fire

After introducing the Worldwork perspective on conflict as the embarking point of a process trying to happen, we steered right into the conflict and we sat in that fire together for 3-4 days.  The work mostly consisted of working our way up to a group process.  The main roles and ghost roles present took the stage, one by one, to fully express their experience to everyone present in the field of tension.  Only when everybody could empathize with every role, we moved on to the next one.  This process in itself brought a lot of insight and relief to the groups.  We would then focus on one or two central interactions that we all felt needed to happen and came up with inspiring directions to move forward.

I am very happy the Kaospilot school is interested in the Worldwork approach.  I feel it really supports the school’s vision of being a hub for social change, where real world challenges can be tackled by our future leaders.  

If such juicy conversations can happen at the Kaospilots, they can happen elsewhere.  “Fire and fury” is no longer only out there on our TVs, but can be processed among ourselves into something way more exciting than fighter jets taking off.  Using Worldwork, we can find solutions together that all parties can take ownership of.  

Instead of signatures on fragile treaties, we are working towards hugs over sustainable agreements.

 

by Lukas Hohler, MA, PW Dipl.

Lukas Hohler works internationally as a consultant for individuals and organizations in change processes.  He is also on faculty at the Institute for Process Work in Zurich, and is Managing Director of changefacilitation.ch.

As an entrepreneur he has founded SCHULKRAFT, an organization that consults with schools in Switzerland, and GRUNDKRAFT, that develops and distributes Empowerment Programs. He developed the Empowerment Programs, www.leadersempowered.net and www.teachersempowered.net, and has trained trainers and organizations in over ten countries to apply these programs in their work.

 

A version of this article first appeared in the Kaospilots Newsletter, https://issuu.com/changels/docs/whatsnew__5_2018, January 30, 2018. 

 

Photo credit: Kaique Rocha https://www.pexels.com/photo/factory-construction-sparks-fire-47221/