Process oriented counseling aims to increase awareness within individual or groups of hidden or rejected aspects which are not readily identified with but that unconsciously cause conflict and through therapy contain the solution.
Process work was developed during the 1970's by the Jungian analyst Arnold Mindell of Zurich, Switzerland. Mindell was developing the idea of illness being a physical expression of ones unconscious mind and observed that his clients' nighttime dreams were both mirrored by and mirrored in their somatic experiences and physical symptoms.
He based his studies around his term "dreaming" that encompassed unconscious aspects of the human experience that may exclude consensus views of reality, though accurately reflect a client's dreams, fantasies, physical experience and unintentional use of signals operating within interpersonal relationships. Mindell believed that illness, conflict, relationship issues and social tensions, when studied with mature curiosity and respect, can reveal information crucial to their relief and lead to personal or collective growth.
Mindell drew from sources ranging from Taoism, shamanism and modern physics information theory to develop a method of deconstruction that enables clients to embrace and understand their nonverbal, body-level experiences. This process, which he terms "unfolding", is used to integrate and interpret this unconscious material via methods involving movement, deep somatic experience, interpersonal relationship and social context. In the 1980's together with his process work colleagues, Mindell began to apply his conceptual framework to large groups in order to successfully resolve conflict on a large scale. He coined the term "Worldwork" to describe his new discipline.
Clients attempting to embrace secondary process experiences often prove reluctant or even unable - as if a boundary exists to separate the two. This boundary is called the edge and represents, quite literally, the edge of the clients identity. Edges can be classified by the identity they serve: Personal, Family, Social or Human.
The aim of Process Work is to identify the client's primary and secondary processes and the edges that separate them. Then the client's identity can be enriched by amplifying and unfolding secondary experiences until they are understood on a somatic and cognitive level to become a part of the client's experiential world.