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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, 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.


The Spirit of Conflict

By Ger Halpin

“Conflict is a gateway to a deepening of relationship with myself, with others, and the world.”

I’m afraid (in fact I’m terrified) to speak about the spirit of war and conflict, especially at a time when there is so much suffering and fear in the world.  I have not lived through the horror of war.  I haven’t lost my loved ones or seen them suffer in ways that are unimaginable to me.  Attempting to speak about conflict is brazen and potentially dangerous, and a huge part of me questions my right to say anything about any of it.  But something wants me to share my very small experience with you. 

The Fighting Spirit Inside Me

Within me, a warlike spirit emerges from the essence level, from the root of my creativity.  It is often the source of essential changes which need to happen in my life.  My war-like nature has connected me to my personal power, when everything in my life conspired to take it from me.  I’m forged in the fires of my own personal conflict and this has been at the core of my life myth

I feel compelled to explore conflict and my confrontational nature.  I yearn to have a peaceful, Zen-like nature and to emanate peace and reconciliation, but it isn’t my path.  Instead I fight, wrestle, question and trample my way towards moments of peace, insight and enlightenment.  Processwork’s inner-work model, which believes every experience is potentially valuable and transformative, has enabled me to go deeply into this aspect of my nature.  So, despite the horror and desolation of conflict, I own that I’m not yet ready to engage in peace and reconciliation.  

Why is that?  Because I struggle to celebrate and embrace my warlike nature, or to grieve for the pain and desolation I have created for myself and others.  It frightens me to say it out loud, but I am still in awe of the generative power of conflict and I’m not ready to surrender my part in that process yet.  But, because of Processwork, how I engage in conflict is changing.

Processwork Transforms Conflict

The complex nature of conflict is revealing itself to me slowly and in different ways.  Processwork enables me to work on power, privilege and rank.  Now, conflict isn’t about shoring up my identity, establishing my boundaries and creating the world according to my version of reality.  I don’t need to use it to seduce, subdue or threaten others to accept my vision. Processwork is teaching me that I fail when I use conflict to create a world which reflects only my own narrow worldview.  

Engaging in conflict is not about honing my skills and establishing strength in relationship to the weakness of another person.  Scoring points is now an empty victory if it only seeks to exclude or denigrate someone else’s experience or beliefs.  If the result of my conflict with another is to only reflect my perceptions and my experiences, then my world becomes a poorer place.  I have misused the power of conflict.  I have rejected the inherent creativity of conflict and lost the chance to create a world enriched and sustained by diversity.  

Conflict isn’t about marginalising the perceptions of other people, their diverse experiences and denying our shared history as sentient human beings.

Deepening Relationship with Myself

After years of fighting, polarizing situations, and creating stalemate in my personal and professional life, I now realize that conflict is a gateway to a deepening of relationship with myself, with others and the world.  What began as a crusade to establish my identity and to experience my own power in the face of familial and societal oppression, has now become the challenge of experiencing myself as a person and a spirit connected infinitely to everyone and everything else, past, present and future.  This is both shocking, frightening and exhilarating.  This is a world in which I can live, love, fight and explore the experience of being a woman, a mother and a human being.  

Skills for Conflicting Creatively

Processwork motivates me to find new skills to engage in conflict.  The ability to fight and conflict is a great gift to me, changing my life, sometimes for the best and sometimes for the worst.  However, my intention in fighting with someone or for some cause is changing dramatically.  I want to use conflict to learn more about myself, about you and the universe we inhabit.  But I’m fearful that without inner-work, group work and rank awareness, the cost will be too high.  

It isn’t easy to stay connected to my deepest self when I feel frightened or threatened or excluded.  I fear my opponents and their intent when they challenge me or threaten the people or values that are precious to me.  I struggle to get beyond those feelings, and sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail.  Despite this, I know conflict is a powerful path to awakening and I want to become a warrior on this path. 

At its deepest level of expression, conflict is a path of heart.  Having fought for my physical, emotional and spiritual survival, at great cost, I value and appreciate the power of conflict.  I have learned so much about the roots of my own suffering and I have inflicted wounds and suffering on other people.  I’m learning about power, how it is used and misused and its impact on all of us.  I am learning about sensitivity and insensitivity, and how these both facilitate and inhibit our capacity to notice and respond to feedback, in ourselves and others.  

Taking the Other Side

I must always remind myself that conflict loses its transformative power when I fail to take the other side as well as my own.  I am still trying to find ways to creatively engage in conflict, a possibility and a pathway revealed to me by Processwork.  I’m hoping that you and I can follow the nature of conflict, so that it isn’t just about death, destruction and subjugation, but instead becomes a channel for deepening our humanity, and embracing all our creativity and diversity.

by Ger Halpin, MPP, Dipl. Processwork, PG Dip CDRS, Approved Mediator MII

I am an eternal student of change and conflict.  Change and adaption is the key to survival.  Moving through life, negotiating conflicts and flowing with change is my life myth and ongoing challenge.  This requires awareness, a certain attitude and a spiritual practice: a spiritual practice that honors your past, your present and your future.  For me, Processwork embodies all of this and forms the cornerstone of my existence.  It is at the heart of my daily practice as a Community Worker, Facilitator and Mediator.

Ger is on teaching faculty at Processwork Ireland

Master of Art in Process-Oriented Facilitation and Conflict Studies – Next cohort Fall 2019 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.

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