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Exploring Arnold Mindell's ProcessWork: Uniting Shamanic Practices, Jungian Psychology, and Deep Democracy

Arnold Mindell is a renowned psychotherapist, author, and teacher who has made significant contributions to the field of psychology through his development of ProcessWork.

Combining elements from various disciplines such as shamanic practices, Jungian psychology, and the concept of deep democracy, Mindell's approach offers a unique and holistic perspective on personal and collective transformation. 

In this article, we will delve into the foundations of ProcessWork, its incorporation of shamanic practices, the influence of Jungian psychology, and the central tenet of deep democracy.

1. Understanding ProcessWork

ProcessWork, also known as Process-Oriented Psychology or Worldwork, is a transdisciplinary approach to therapy and conflict resolution developed by Arnold Mindell. It seeks to understand and work with the deeper processes unfolding within individuals, relationships, and groups. The core principle of ProcessWork is that every individual or system contains a "dreaming process" which holds valuable information and potential for growth.

2. Shamanic Practices in ProcessWork

Mindell drew inspiration from shamanic practices found in various indigenous cultures around the world. Shamanism, a spiritual and healing tradition, emphasizes the importance of accessing altered states of consciousness and connecting with the unseen realms. In ProcessWork, shamanic practices are used to explore and engage with the symbolic language of dreams, body symptoms, and the unconscious.

By incorporating shamanic techniques like trance, movement, and ritual, Mindell expanded the scope of traditional psychotherapy. These practices allow individuals to access different aspects of their psyche, communicate with unconscious elements, and gain a deeper understanding of their experiences. Shamanic practices also provide a means for individuals to connect with the collective unconscious and tap into the wisdom of ancestral knowledge.

3. Jungian Psychology and ProcessWork

Jungian psychology, developed by Carl Jung, heavily influenced Mindell's work. Jung proposed that the human psyche is comprised of conscious and unconscious elements, and he explored the significance of symbols, archetypes, and the collective unconscious. ProcessWork builds upon Jung's concepts by emphasizing the importance of working with the unconscious and the symbolic language it presents.

ProcessWork utilizes Jungian concepts such as amplification (amplifying the meaning of symbols or experiences) and active imagination (engaging in dialogue with dream figures or inner characters) to gain insights into unconscious processes. The integration of Jungian psychology with shamanic practices in ProcessWork allows individuals to access and explore the rich tapestry of the psyche, facilitating personal growth and transformation.

4. Deep Democracy and ProcessWork

Central to Mindell's approach is the concept of deep democracy. Deep democracy refers to the recognition and inclusion of all voices and perspectives within a system, whether they are dominant or marginalized. It acknowledges that conflicts and disturbances in personal or collective realms often arise from unacknowledged or repressed aspects seeking integration.

ProcessWork fosters deep democracy by creating a space for open dialogue, active listening, and amplification of marginalized voices. By valuing and exploring the different roles, viewpoints, and experiences within a system, ProcessWork aims to uncover the underlying dynamics, facilitate conflict resolution, and promote transformation.


Arnold Mindell's ProcessWork has emerged as a transformative and integrative approach to psychology, drawing from shamanic practices, Jungian psychology, and the concept of deep democracy. By incorporating shamanic techniques, ProcessWork offers individuals a means to connect with the unconscious, engage with symbolism, and access deeper layers of personal and collective experience.

Moreover, the influence of Jungian psychology provides a framework for understanding and working with the unconscious and the symbolic language it presents. Finally, the concept of deep democracy emphasizes the importance of

inclusivity, dialogue, and valuing diverse perspectives, enabling ProcessWork to address conflicts and promote personal and collective growth.

As Mindell continues to refine and expand upon his work, ProcessWork offers a valuable and holistic approach for individuals, therapists, and communities to explore the depths of the human psyche, foster dialogue, and facilitate transformative change.