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Process Work in Practice: Free Introductory Classes

Join Dawn Menken for Process Work in Practice: Free Introductory Classes

These free one-hour classes will present a Process Work approach to working with a variety of themes that emerge in our lives and in private practice. These short sessions are meant to introduce the public to a variety of Process Work applications but will also include ideas that can enhance learning for students and practitioners. These drop-in classes will occur monthly on-line.

First Thursday of each month (no January class)

5:30-6:30pm Pacific Time

Online @

Oct 3 – A Process Work Approach to Addictions

Nov 7 — Activism and Process Work: An Organic Union

Dec 5 – Unfolding Anxiety and Depression

Feb 6 – Exploring the Wisdom of Our Dreams

March 5 – Raising Parents, Raising Kids, Raising Us All: A Process Work Approach to Parenting

April 2 – Engaging with Dying, Death and Grief

Dawn Menken, Ph.D., is a conflict resolution educator, counselor, facilitator, and workshop presenter. She is a senior faculty member in the graduate program at the Process Work Institute in Portland, Oregon and was co-creator of its masters programs, serving as academic dean for ten years. She is the creator of Teens Rise Up (TRU), a cutting edge program that empowers and educates young people to step into their leadership, engage in honest dialogue, and co-create a more welcoming school community. She is the author of the award winning book, Raising Parents Raising Kids: Hands on Wisdom for the Next Generation. A dynamic teacher with a sharp mind and playful spirit, Dawn enjoys working with people from all cultures and backgrounds.  For more information see her website:


MAY 23-28, 2020 – Musqueam Territory – University of British Columbia – Vancouver BC

A world facing profound polarization, extreme inequities, and a global climate crisis.
We come together as an international community to learn and create a deeper democracy through awareness, conflict, and relationship.


Climate Change Inaction and Relationship

By Irina Feygina

Climate Change is at Our Doorstep.  We have all the tools needed to ameliorate, and possibly reverse, the human impact on the climate.  Our economic and human resources, capacity for technological innovation, and ability to coordinate and learn are immense, and if harnessed toward tackling this issue we can turn things around.  But we don’t.  Why are we failing to meet this challenge with the wisdom, courage, and community spirit that it requires?  How can we shift toward action and support adaptive responses?

Relationships Underlie our Responses to the Climate Crisis

We tend to envision climate change as a multitude of measurable trends: increasing greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures, climate variability and extreme weather events, loss of nature and species extinction, sea level rise and desertification – all leading to destructive impacts on agriculture, infrastructure, cities, communities, lives.

Yet, our responses to climate change and barriers to action are driven by a different layer of experience, one Processwork calls “the Dreaming”.  It is comprised of individual subjective experiences, perceptions, and interpretations – our inner, unique, authentic world from which our behavior stems.  Understandably, many who want to engage politicians and the public with climate change offer facts and scientific knowledge to convey the severity of the risks and impacts.  Yet, this approach has not succeeded because it has not recognized and addressed the barriers at the dreaming level.

In many years of learning about and attempting to address climate change inaction, I have discovered that beneath the resistance is a longing and profound need for relationship.  I offer this insight as a tool to work with climate change differently, in a way that connects rather than alienates people.


Climate Inaction Stems from the Need to Belong

Our fundamental motive, which drives much of our behavior, is the need to belong: to be an accepted and valued member of a group, welcomed and desired, loved and included in something bigger.  Our relationships may be with institutions, communities, families, friends, God or spiritual entities, animals, nature, ourselves.  For most people, relationships form the heart of our lives, and offer meaning and purpose – and we are willing to go to great lengths to protect them.

This becomes a key impediment to accepting and addressing climate change, which threatens the very fabric of our society, and the well-being of those we love.  Climate change brings the most fundamental facets of our socioeconomic systems into question – the reliance on industry, technology, and the notion of progress, and reveals their unsustainability.  Those strongly identified with and psychologically invested in these systems will do anything to protect them, and are likely to engage in denial of climate change and resistance to solutions.  This dynamic is effectively exploited by an organized, extensively funded, shadow political effort to stymie action and sow doubt about the science of climate change.

On the other hand, those who are willing to acknowledge the reality of climate change often fail to see its relevance and proximity to their lives and the people they care about.  If they do, they may be unable to take action due to overwhelming feelings of fear, powerlessness, and inefficacy in the face of this enormous challenge.  The absence of a coordinated response spearheaded by political leadership and inclusive of the public leaves a void where a shared reality is needed.  People are left without a coherent vision nor a path toward engagement which is feasible and meaningful in their lives.

The Key to Overcoming Disengagement is Relationship

Climate skepticism and complacency are both about belonging.  The skeptics perceive a conflict between responding to climate change and protecting the economic and political institutions they identify with and depend on.  The complacent prioritize responsibilities to the relationships that comprise their lives, and are lost without a community foundation for engagement with climate change.  For both groups, responses driven by identity, relationship, and community (or lack thereof) prevail over risks and scientific fact.

Consequently, to work on climate change effectively is to work on these relational processes.  Help the skeptical undo the perceived conflict and harness their desire to protect the system by reframing solutions as a way to uphold what people love and feel attached to.  Help the complacent and disengaged connect climate change to the relationships they care about – their children, friends, neighborhoods, work. 

Make climate solutions consistent with people’s values and aspirations.  Build community and empower through shared engagement and successes.

Not only is relationship at the root of inaction, it is also at the root of action.  People align their behaviors to social norms, as a way of fitting in and being accepted.  Social norms are the most powerful driver of changing behaviors toward sustainability.  Adopting clean energy technologies (e.g. solar panels) is most strongly predicted by how many neighbors have done so, not price.  People are most effectively convinced to reduce water and electricity usage through learning that other people in their locality are doing so.  The burgeoning social resistance of the youth to governmental inaction is driven by connection to members and identity with the movement. 

The Paris Accords were successful after decades of failed international climate negotiations as a result of dedicated relationship building and dialogue among the world’s nations.

Processwork Facilitates Deeper Relationships across Diversity

There are many tools that Processwork can offer for supporting relationship dynamics in the context of climate change.  I am beginning to explore ways to bring these tools to climate organizations and groups, and trust these attempts will be my teacher in how to best draw on Processwork to support the Dreaming. But here are some thoughts.  As facilitators, we strive toward an inclusive attitude that honors and recognizes all perspectives – even ones we experience as disturbing, unknown, or frightening.  When conflicting sides encounter and recognize each other in this integrative way, a foundation is created for a deeper conversation, in which each side can recognize and acknowledge the other.  This can give rise to solutions that are informed by both facts and a deeper dreaming, and foster relationship across difference.

Processwork teaches us to embrace conflict, adversity, and wounds, and trust that listening deeply will reveal what we need to know and show the path forward.  By learning to follow and trust the process we discover our unique contributions and styles of working with complex situations, and can offer support to others for deepening personal growth, strengthening relationships, and building community.  It also offers approaches for supporting team dynamics and interpersonal difficulties within groups and addressing the insidious state of hopelessness and burnout that often arise when tackling entrenched challenges.

Exploring the Essence and Doorways into Growth

Processwork also invites us to discover the essence and explore the mystery of climate change – what is it teaching us and what doors is it opening?  How is it challenging us to create meaning in this unknown landscape?  What spiritual insights and growth is it demanding of us?  Going to the essence offers a detached viewpoint from which we can step out of the ever-widening polarization and perhaps discover a new sense of interconnectedness.  It can also help cultivate hope, resilience, and empowerment.

It is time we listen to the dreaming behind climate change inaction and recognize that our responses are driven by belonging, identity, and relationship.  We have much to offer in recognizing, holding, and healing these relational processes, and moving from polarization and alienation toward community and hope.


by Irina Feygina, PhD

Irina Feygina is a process-oriented facilitator and psychologist who supports individuals and groups to deepen self-awareness, strengthen relationships and communication, and embrace conflict as a doorway into discovery and transformation.  Her passion is working on the human dimensions of climate change – conflict and cooperation, skepticism and engagement, and holding space for complex personal and community processes around this vast challenge.  She has worked in government, nonprofits, and academia, and is currently developing approaches to climate conflict that combine insights from Processwork and behavioral sciences.  Irina holds a PhD in social psychology and is completing her Diploma in Process-oriented facilitation.

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Photo credit: South Bend Voice on flickr

Image credit: Ann Kopka; Entwined

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.


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