Publications & Articles

Speak Out! | Introduction

In 1979 I went to Zurich, Switzerland where I studied with Arny Mindell, founder of process-oriented psychology (process work). I lived there for over ten years and participated in the development of this innovative and comprehensive psychological system that works with a wide range of human experience, including body symptoms, extreme states of consciousness, comatose and near-death states, and relationships.

Since 1990, process work has seen the development of worldwork, which focuses on processing social issues and large multicultural group interactions. Worldwork grew out of process work theory and is a revolutionary method that uses psychological tools and awareness to address diversity in group settings. In a typical worldwork seminar, an international group of about 300 people gathers to create community out of conflict, diversity and the unpredictable experiences that groups constellate. The atmosphere at these events is often hot and emotional. Marginalized groups conflict openly with the mainstream, and momentary resolution arises out of emotional changes in the group itself. Individuals and groups that are typically not given a public voice are encouraged to speak out.

Worldwork is a unique blend of psychology, social action, and awareness principles that culminates in greater community understanding. I have learned so much at these worldwork events that much of this writing has been inspired by the interactions and reflections that occur during and after these profound encounters. During these events one witnesses the power and community spirit of individuals and groups that have been excluded from society. Listening to these voices, I have been touched to the core by the courage, depth of emotion and celebration of the human spirit under oppressive circumstances. I have been left shaking and in tears; I have been furious and I have been overwhelmed by love. I have been deeply moved, beyond what I know in myself and into the hearts of others. This movement generates something like a spiritual center for groups and creates the seeds of community life. Community grows out of the sharing of new experience, emerges by staying close to the edge of what is known. This is the pulse of group life, the mystery that moves hearts when both the individual and the group experience themselves anew.

In community life, a fundamental root of conflict can be traced to the unconscious powers the dominant segments of any given group and the voices that are disavowed, cast out, and deemed insignificant. Worldwork embraces this key dynamic by creating a powerful forum for interaction. Speak Out is a tribute to the many voices that have been marginalized, voices inside of myself as well as others. At the heart of process work and the practice of worldwork lies the basic principle of deep democracy, which addresses this perennial conflict of marginalization by emphasizing the value of all viewpoints and the necessity for them each to find expression. This is essential not only for group, social, or political life, but inner life as well; often inside of us there is tyranny in the way we disavow or exclude aspects of our experience and cement identities that inhibit us from expressing our expansive natures.

Often those of us who have been marginalized lead the group or the world with the depth and personal power that develops through living in a society that doesn't embrace us. During the worldwork seminars it is often the African Americans, Native Americans, Aboriginals, women, gays, lesbians and bisexuals, Jews, Latinos, Eastern Europeans, those from less industrialized countries, those who have known hunger and poverty and collective abuse, those who have lived under dictatorship, communism and fascism and various others who have come forward with their fury and pain, courage and compassion, breaking through our mainstream slumber.

These individuals fascinate us; they throw us off balance, knocking us out of our comfort zone. We are captivated by their experiences and awed by their power. From a mainstream perspective, we also feel outraged to be awakened. We can't listen; we don't want to. We want to hold onto our known worlds, the powers we know, the place where the world is safe and secure, the ground rules that we have created and expect everyone to live by. This interaction lies at the heart of personal, community and world change.

This work is infused with the living spirit of process work and its worldwork applications. The thinking and feeling are inspired by its viewpoint, which respects and follows the nature of life's unfolding. The personal essay format allows the reader to experience how the basic philosophical principles of process work theory and worldwork are translated into everyday living. Process work is an attempt at a "living Taoism," a psychological system and spiritual philosophy that inspires us to follow the Tao or to discover the mystery and unknown in everyday life. This work is not a theoretical book about process work; however, the essays do reflect core spiritual beliefs and worldwork principles that are embedded in personal experience.

The first piece introduces the reader to some of the basic dynamics between marginalized and mainstream groups and gives the reader a peek into the worldwork seminar in Slovakia that was referred to in the preface. Other writings make some reference to worldwork gatherings, and much of the work addresses themes of marginalization, the quest for freedom and learning and growing together as a world community. Besides my own experiences and learning that permeates this book, as a therapist and teacher of process work, I use case examples to make the situations I am addressing more real. Most essentially, many of the writings in this work explore the deeper spirit behind worldwork: love, relationship and community, and the eternal drive for learning and divine connection.

Process work and worldwork have been part of a greater evolution in psychology that brings together psychological thought with spiritual beliefs and social justice issues. Psychology can no longer afford to separate itself from the urgency of social justice issues nor can it be devoid of spirit or meaning. Speak Out is a tribute to this deep well of learning.