Process Oriented Psychology



Process Work, also known as Process Oriented Psychology, is an evolving psycho-social-political theory and methodology for working with individuals, groups and communities in a range of contexts including psychotherapy, facilitation, coaching, organisational and leadership development, mediation and conflict transformation, reconciliation processes.

It was developed by Drs Arnold, and later Amy, Mindell, beginning in the 1970s and still evolving today.

It’s a comprehensive awareness model that brings together Jungian psychology, Taoist philosophy, communications and systems theory, indigenous healing traditions, and quantum physics.

One of the central underpinnings of the model is that the problems and challenges we face, the experiences that disturb us, carry valuable information about ourselves and our communities, and are an invitation to more wholeness if we can be curious enough to explore them.

These disturbances may come in the form of dreams, physical symptoms, addictions, family and relationship problems, group conflicts and social tensions: all these experiences, even the most chaotic-seeming processes, when approached with curiosity and respect, reveal an inner order and coherence that can bring new information vital for our personal and/or collective growth.

Process is the flow of information, manifesting in a variety of ways, connected by an underlying organising principle. 

Arnold Mindell

In this way, Process Work is a non-pathologising approach to working with people and groups. We don’t aim to fix things (because we don’t believe people are broken) but to support people, groups and communities to discover themselves.

The Process Work model includes a sophisticated awareness of communication signals that enable us to identify the unique language of each issue, plus a range of tools for unfolding the meaning held within the issue.

In essence, Process Work, is a set of skills and attitudes for following nature as it unfolds in people and communities. No matter the context, the Process Worker is essentially a facilitator of nature, supporting more awareness of what is already trying to happen, rather than directing it.

The term ‘process’ in Process Work refers to the shamanistic act of journeying directly with the river. The focus in Process Work and shamanism is not developing the ego further but rather upon developing awareness of change.

Arnold Mindell

Process Work can be considered an integrative approach in that we work with the mind, body, spirit and social context:

The Mind – Process Work incorporates the psychodynamic approach of working with roles or parts within the psyche (including dream work), as well as roles and parts within group facilitation. While we don’t use the language of conscious and unconscious, we work with the known and unknown parts of identity and experience to support greater self-awarenesss and integration of inner and outer diversity.

The Body – Process Work is a somatic approach in that we observe and work with communication signals that appear through movement, posture, experiences/sensations in the body, symptoms and illnesses. We view these experiences similar to dreams; that if we can decode them we will find meaning and new insight into our identity, life challenges, and direction of development.

The Spirit – Process Work is also a transpersonal approach. Rooted in Taoist philosophy and quantum physics, we work assuming the interconnected nature of reality. We understand humans to be curious meaning makers looking for a way to make sense of their existence beyond their own personal experiences.

Social Context – Process Work has a sophisticated framework for understanding the dynamics and impact of social oppression and normative pressures on both the individual and communities. In this way, Process Work can be considered a liberation psychology.


A great interview with Arnold Mindell for the US Body Psychotherapy Association.



A short introduction to Process Work by Arnold Mindell.



A comprehensive paper on the evolution of Process Work by Amy Mindell.


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