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Process-Oriented Coaching in Organizations

By Rho Sandberg


A Process-Oriented View of Organizations

In order to thrive in today’s constantly changing environment, most organisations recognise the need to become more agile.  They’ve often experienced first-hand the challenges that arise when structures, hierarchies, rules and work practices become rigid or are slow to transform.  Many organisations are attempting to cultivate new approaches, so that they can catch the wave of change early.

Leaders are now becoming deeply curious about the changing world around them.  They work with their teams to discover ways of operating that anticipate and are responsive to their dynamic and complex environment.

Anyone familiar with Processwork will recognise this movement to understand the dynamic forces at play within organisational life as an inherently process-oriented approach.  Arnold Mindell, the founder of Processwork, recognised the limitations of a state-based view of the world, which regards ourselves, our organisations and the world as static.  His methods introduce a way to work with the conscious and unconscious dynamics within organisations, groups, teams and the individual herself.

Accessing Deep Organisational Intelligence

Effective leaders are interested in accessing the deepest intelligence of their organisation.  As process-oriented coaches and consultants, we help leaders and teams to access tacit or internalised knowledge that is easily lost or overlooked.  

A process-oriented approach to organisational change is inherently agile.  Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Working With Disturbances

Organizations interested in being more agile, are learning to value and embrace the fluidness of becoming, as much as their current understanding of who they are and the business they are in.  In an era of disruption, the status quo can change in the blink of an eye.  Increasingly leaders engage coaches to support them in this enquiry.

A process-oriented attitude is curious about those disturbances that seem to interrupt our plans, as well as chronic organisational problems, conflicts or changes in technology and the marketplace.  We believe disturbances are of value and hold important information and potential for the organisation.  The value of this appreciative mindset, when faced with disappointments, is reflected in one of the classic business innovation case studies: The invention of The Post-It Note.  As a result of an apparent failure – an adhesive that did not stick permanently – a new product was created that had not even been imagined.

Rather than looking for one right way to do things, the process-oriented practitioner – just like an agile organisation – is looking for signs of what is happening in the environment, system or relationship in that moment, including apparent failures.  We ask ourselves: “What is right about that?”

2. Working Systemically

Process oriented coaches and consultants understand that subtle shifts in the environment can lead to major changes in society.  Drawing on the principles of complex systems theory and quantum physics, we help leaders to pay attention to what they are experiencing within themselves as a reflection of the dynamics of the larger system.   The links between inner and outer reality are understood in ways which are deeply meaningful.  

Leaders and teams that adopt a process-oriented approach begin to pay even closer attention to the early signs of pending change.  They work with curiosity and a learning mindset to discover rich sources of information they would previously have overlooked.

3. Mobilising Diversity

Solving complex social and technical problems is beyond any individual and increasingly beyond the skillset of one profession because different ways of thinking and experience are needed.  Agile organisations bring diverse and multi-disciplinary teams together.

However, forming a diverse and inclusive team is just the first step.  Learning to communicate with people who come from different professional or social backgrounds is challenging on occasions.  Process oriented coaches and facilitators draw on their training in conflict management and share these skills with others.  In this way, subtle tensions and the entrenched problems that limit creativity and stifle genuine innovation can be successfully addressed.

4. Emerging Leadership

In addition to recognising the formal roles people occupy in the hierarchy, we work with the dynamic shifts in roles which can easily be missed.  For instance, relying only on identified leaders or experts can be a dangerous trap that limits the information and insights brought to the table.

Leadership is both a formal role and an impetus that is needed throughout the organisation.  Supporting informal leadership to emerge is essential for any organisation or community that wants to tap into its resources.

Process oriented coaches work with the visions and aspirations of teams and individuals.  They help would-be and emerging leaders pay attention to their dreams and sources of inspiration, to step into their fullest potential.

5. The Skilful Use of Power, Influence and Authority

Processworkers are interested in the influence of power and rank on the ways people interact in the workplace.  The ripple effect of unacknowledged power and rank differences can be insidious, resulting in negative competition and jealousy, interrupting the flow of information and ideas, and impacting organisational morale and wellbeing.

Too often, power and rank are not recognized because of a hesitancy to talk about these things.  They are felt but not discussed.  Process workers assist others to understand their own relationship to power and impact upon others.

6. Exploring The Undiscussables

Process oriented coaches and consultants support organisations to bring awareness to the “undiscussables” which often shape their culture.  Coaches work with individuals to think about the best ways to approach these potentially challenging conversations.

We recognize that these unexplored dimensions of organisational life can block the flow of energy and resources.  An organisation that wants to be effective can rarely afford this sort of energy drain.  It undermines flow and keeps creativity and dialogue stuck.  

In fact when worked with skilfully, those things we try to avoid and regard merely as disturbances, reveal themselves as a rich source of useful insights for the organisation.  Exploring the more challenging aspects of organisational life can in fact mobilise a deep potential.

7. Adopting A Multi-level Lens

In summary, process-oriented coaches and consultants adopt a rich lens to view and work with different sources or levels of information and potential within an organisation.  They assist individuals in organisations to understand the fluid environments they operate in and to make better strategic decisions.  These elements include the flickering signals of impending change or new market needs and trends, the dynamics of leadership, team and partnership relationships, and a deep connection with the organisational mission and purpose.


By Rho Sandberg, 

MACFOC, MCogSc, PCC Accredited Coach

Rho Sandberg, along with her business partner Vicki Henricks, MA, Dipl. PW, PCC Accredited Coach, is a founder of the Global Coaching Institute, which offers internationally accredited coach training using a process-oriented approach.  Collectively, they bring over 60 years experience as executive coaches and consultants to senior levels of government and executive teams in global corporate, public sector and community settings.


Photo credit: Oliver Sjöström (cropped)


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.


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.


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, 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.


Arnold Mindell: Fall 2018

Join Dr. Arnold Mindell on Sept 21 and Sept 28 3.30-6.30pm, for his Fall 2018 classes!  

Everyone feels troubled at one time or another by body symptoms, and inner problems! These experiences are often connected to medical, personal, social and historical issues.  Solutions are crucial but not always sustainable.  This Fall, Arny will be teaching a new “Flow-oriented Inner work” to creatively help both Body and Internal problems.  Find out more …

See also evening case supervision September 21st, 7.30pm, where Dr Mindell provides live supervision on case presentations by participants. 

Winter Intensive 2019! January 20th – February 21st, 2019

Join us for the 34th Annual Intensive Course in Process WorkJanuary 20th – February 21st, 2019 … Come learn with us to listen to signals we see in everyday reality and in the world of darkness of the night, that means, from our dreams and pre-dream experiences.

The course offers a unique opportunity to learn Process Work in an intensive format and within an international group setting. The course includes Process Work’s many applications and its most recent developments, and it is designed as an adult learning event. Participants will learn and study together by means of theory, experiential exercises, and group processes. Since the course attracts students from many nationalities, ethnic groups, and religious backgrounds, issues such as multiculturalism, diversity, and community building are part of the learning experience.


Master of Art in Process-Oriented Facilitation and Conflict Studies – next cohort Fall 2018 find out more

The MA in Process-oriented Facilitation and Conflict Studies (MAPOF) teaches students to facilitate inner psychology and world problems. Our graduates work in leadership, organizations, counseling, coaching, and as mediators and facilitators in community and global contexts. Our vision is to teach people how to relate to themselves and each other, even amongst difficult conflicts, polarities, and moods. Our experienced faculty, including founders Arny and Amy Mindell, have experience ranging from depth psychology to large organizational consulting, to war zones, and offer students unique training in methods for working with the interconnectivity of personal problems and world problems.

Awareness, Power, and Process Oriented Activism

Join Stan Tomandl and Ann Jacob to explore loving detachment while surrounded by difficult situations for our environment, fellow humans, and our own hopes and dreams. A deep look inward at attitudes and beliefs: how we activate, and don’t activate, ourselves in the midst of internal and external power struggles. For those interested in social and environmental justice and the art of eldership. Register online!

Congratulations MAPOF 1!

Our wonderful MAPOF 1 cohort will be celebrating their graduation today, May 25th. Their Commencement Ceremony will be held at the Process Work Institute from 5 pm to 7:30 pm followed immediately by a Reception with food, drinks, music, and socializing.

We invite everyone to join us for this very special occasion to celebrate this cohort and honor their journey these last two years. All of us at PWI look forward to seeing you there!!
Please contact with any questions. 

The Role of Education in Government

On May 20th and May 27th join Arny Mindell for afternoon and evening courses at PWI. In these classes participants will be studying how education influences, or can determine future governments. Evening classes are supervisions of individual, group, and organizational situations. 

The Facilitator’s “Cracked Pot” and Unique Style

Join Amy Mindell Ph.D. in exploring the facilitator’s “cracked pot”. That is, the unique gifts hidden within learning difficulties or moments when you are not able to use your skills. The class is geared toward new and advanced therapists, facilitators, coaches, teachers, or helpers.  Through discussion and exercises, we’ll discover how your unique nature creates your deepest facilitator style, the “metaskills” that bring your skills to life, and renewed creativity for your work.

Check out the new Faculty VLog: What’s the Process?

Introducing a new feature to the Process Work Institute website: What’s the Process? The Process Work Institute Faculty Vlog. This vlog will feature videos by faculty at the PWI addressing questions relevant to all aspects of Process Work including body symptoms, organizational work, counseling and more. Have a look and don’t forget to bookmark!

What’s the Process? The Process Work Institute Faculty Vlog