Arnold Mindell, a Jungian analyst, developed process work in the 1970s during his research into illness as an expression of the unconscious. This variation of Jungian Psychology is based on the theory that the unconscious mind manifests itself through physical symptoms, addictions, social and mental tensions, and relationship challenges as well as through dreams. By using his strengths as a physicist, Mindell incorporated group dynamics, psychology, spirituality, and expression together with Buddhism and Taoist principles in one therapeutic delivery method. He refers to the "dreaming process" as a fluid and relative tapestry of experiences that reside at the heart of all of one's traumatic and emotionally charged experiences.
Process work aims to heighten the awareness of the therapist and the client in order to understand the process--the method in which the unconscious is manifested through imagination, dreams, and fantasies. Process itself also refers to the fluid communication, both verbal and non-verbal, than ensues between the therapist and the client.
There are two distinct types of experiences in Process Oriented Psychology:
1) Primary Process - Experiences with which the client can identify or assimilate.
2) Secondary Process - Experiences that the client cannot relate to and that appear foreign to him or her. Very often clients will be unable to identify with a secondary process on any level due to a wall. This perimeter is referred to as the edge, meaning the edge of a person’s identity.
Process Oriented Psychology identifies four specific edges:
1) Personal: This edge represents a person who has perceived intelligence by others, yet considers him or herself ignorant, although he or she conveys brilliance to those around them.
2) Family: For a person to embrace and accept a particular experience, they may be required to violate a specific rule that has been instilled through the family unit.
3) Social: This form of boundary is created by social experiences. If a person grew up in a very wealthy environment with high regard for material things, he or she could not readily understand the concept of poverty or the experience of living an altruistic life.
4) Human: Human nature encompasses that which one is comfortable with and a realm in which experiences are deemed normal and acceptable. Any experiences that reside outside of that realm are considered inhuman or alien.