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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.


Trauma Inspires Us Toward Wholeness

by Brianna Wunderlin

I had two main traumatic events as a child that affected my mind, body, and spirit, though I didn’t remember either until I was an adult.  This is quite common as the mind can protect itself until it is safer to start the process of uncovering and healing. The coping mechanisms and triggers are ways that the mind, body, and spirit are attempting in effective or ineffective ways to protect us from further harm.  The issue comes when these ineffective ways produce more harm than good, keeping us from living a life that is living resiliently in the present.

Trauma and Dissociation

Trauma affects everyone differently, but often has a physiological response, which is the nervous system’s coping mechanism; fight, flight, or freeze.  My main response was flight, which turned into dissociation.

Dissociation can be as mild as spacing out or as strong as part of your psyche split off from the rest.  Mine was severe enough that a younger part of myself had split off from the normal track of growth.

Whether we have experienced trauma or not, we are all made of many parts.  Processwork has some concepts that support healthy relationships between these parts.   

Deep Democracy

A key Processwork concept, Deep democracy, welcomes all diversity in its many forms and values, listening to all of them.  It is one of the most effective tools in my toolbox with clients and in life; deeply listening to all the parts.

Listening means not just hearing, but noticing messages in all their forms – emotions, imaginations, dreams, projections, animals, movements, energy, etc.  When we listen to the voices inside and outside ourselves, we commune with the aliveness of the world.

However, if you do not have a quiet place from which to ground yourself, and not get carried away into the information, people, places, or events, listening can be overwhelming.  

The Internal Metacommunicator

In Processwork, this place of awareness is called a metacommunicator; the part that communicates about what is going on inside ourselves.  This is the voice that can name or comment on what we are experiencing. It allows us to step outside of our experience and communicate with all our parts, instead of being swept away.  When we use this metacommunicator, we can take actions with awareness about our inner landscape, instead of pushing on, or ignoring what is occurring on the inside.

This is particularly important for those who feel they are at the whim of their triggers and internal experiences.  Many people who have had trauma have a nervous system that is easily overstimulated, and easily triggered. For this reason it is even more important to find a firm sense of stillness and grounding where you can learn to safely receive life.  


Tuning into the energy of the earth and its supportive role in your life can help with this.  Walking barefoot outside, immersing yourself in nature, or inviting the feeling of support from the earth through the soles of your feet, are all ways you can ground and tune into the energy of earth.  

Noticing Triggers and Working with Them

The trauma I experienced created a shattering effect in me.  Often when I was triggered, I would dissociate. The experience right before dissociation was a feeling of shattering apart.  Technically I was; pieces of my psyche were like, “we’re out of here.”

As I learned, through Processwork and deep yogic meditations, to track my physical sensations, I began to notice these different effects of trauma in me.  Common triggers were: anger directed towards me, a spotlight in a group or class, conflict, my internal voice wanting to say something in a group but feeling unsafe to do so, and being seen by others.  These usually only triggered me when I didn’t feel safe, which was a combination of me not feeling safe inside myself, and usually some sense of judgement from others who seemed similar to the abuser in my past.

One of the moments I realized this was at a work meeting when someone implicated me in something minor but negative.  I felt their words and energy go straight into me. My trained, sensation based awareness brought me to realize I was beginning to go numb and cold.  I quickly excused myself from the meeting.

I went to the bathroom, where I could let go into a ball of tears.  These tears came from a deep, hurt place that I knew needed to be felt, seen, and heard.  I allowed the tears to flow, hitting the sink basin; letting water meet water. As I finally felt the emotions ebb away I went back to the meeting, able to be semi-present.  When it was over, I went to the parking lot and I noticed the shattering feeling inside of me, like I had been pulled in different directions.

Using My Facilitator Skills

I called to the parts that had split off; the little girl, who was scared and alone and the me who was conscious and could inhabit my body.  I began to facilitate the different voices and bring in the ones that were missing.

In Processwork, these parts, often externalized to allow them expression, are called roles.  I stepped into the different roles: the abuser, the one who felt hurt, the protector, the caring and nurturing mother.  

At first, the protector and nurturing mother were missing, but I invited them into the scene.  I physically made a place on the pavement of the parking lot for these different roles, and I let them speak through me as I moved from place to place.  

Parts in Dialogue

Allowing parts to dialogue gives them expression in the world, and grounds them into the present time to be heard, making me more whole.  As I have learned to be with these different parts, they are no longer pieces, but make up the whole of me.

On an energy level, these parts once contained parts of my energy.  As I re-inhabit them, that energy becomes accessible for me to use with more conscious awareness.  

The Dreaming

Similarly in therapy or in a group, people can play these inner roles, and the energy landscape, or dreaming, of the individual or group can be seen.  The dreaming is the underlying, fluidly-moving river of meanings, roles, and emotions which manifest the surface level reality we all sense and agree on.  

Toward Wholeness

Being aware of the dreaming is how you become a creator of your world; owning and learning to access the wholeness of your own energy – the wholeness of you.  


Brianna is teaching an upcoming course – Sacred Resilience: Sexual Abuse Healing.  Please check out her website for information and updates.


By Brianna Wunderlin, Dipl. PW

Brianna Wunderlin is a transformational coach aiding women who experience emotional overwhelm and stress to find resilience and inner strength.  

She has worked most often with grief and loss, spiritual emergencies, trauma, mother/daughter relationships, leadership, and empowering women to embody their gifts and claim their power.  She is a Processwork Diplomate.

Brianna has worked with trauma through yoga, meditation, energy work, and Processwork.  Her favorite place is nature, and she lives surrounded by sage brush in the high desert outside Reno, NV.  

You can contact her online at & on Facebook at Becoming the Whole


Photo credit: Bekah Russom


Arnold Mindell: Winter 2019

Join Dr. Arnold Mindell on two Fridays in February, 2019 to explore our connection to dark matter, clairvoyance and everyday life …   Feb 1st, Feb 8th, 3.30-6.30pm  Find out more … Also join the evening case supervision February 1st, 7.30pm, for a unique opportunity to observe and interact as Dr Mindell provides live supervision on participant case presentations. 

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