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Process Work

By Martha Lasley, Virginia Kellogg,
Richard Michaels & Sharon Brown

Coaching for Transformation
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Process work is very closely aligned with Experiencing the Moment. This branch of psychology originated in the 1970’s with the work of Arthur Mindell, a Jungian analyst. “Mindell discovered that the dreaming process went far beyond our nighttime dreams and could be seen in physical symptoms, relationship difficulties, addictions, extreme states of consciousness and social tensions. All of these dreamlike processes—when approached with curiosity and respect, can lead to new insight and an energetic shift that is vital for our personal development and the evolution of our collective bodies.”1

Process work involves holding immense curiosity about everything the client is saying.

“If a client speaks about being hurt by an aloof partner, the coach listens as if s/he has no idea what hurt, aloof or partner actually mean. Approached with an empty mind, with no prior experience. Or we might miss the twinkle, we might miss the doorway into something special. If we interpret the client’s feelings as hurt or abandoned, we might miss the opportunity to help the client explore her own aloofness.”2

Process work emphasizes holding curiosity, paying attention to the body, staying in the moment with the client and approaching the client with compassion. Because we want the best for our clients, we sometimes join them in pushing them toward their desired changes. Th e danger of colluding with clients in this way is that we can take them out of their experience, where awareness and growth are most available. Following the client’s process is an invitation to journey to somewhere neither of you have ever been, open to possibilities and experience transformation.

Working with a Sense of Failure

Success is moving from one failure to another without a loss of enthusiasm. —Winston Churchill

Failure is a part of life. As coaches, we don’t shy away from failure or rush to cushion the blow. To stay in the moment with failure can lead to rich insights. So instead of pushing through the discomfort to get to the learning, we can instead be curious about how it is to experience failure right now in this moment. It can make a big difference to be heard. As we listen for their longing, we help them to deepen the experience. For example:

I hear deep sadness when you share the mistakes you think you made in the relationship. What is underneath the sadness?

Using the body can help integrate the feelings associated with failure. As with all the Experiencing the Moment work, including the body helps people integrate the experience and move forward.

Questions to Consider

Take a moment to notice the feelings that are present for you right now.

Where are your feelings living in your body? What is their color, shape or density?

What is a metaphor for any resistance you are feeling now?

As you continue noticing your feelings and your body, what shifts?

How can you support your clients to experience the moment?



2 Diamond, Julie and Jones, Lee Spark (2005). A Path Made by Walking: Process Work in Practice, Lao Tse Press, p. 34

Excerpt from the book Coaching for Transformation: Pathways to Ignite Personal & Social Change by Martha Lasley, Virginia Kellogg, Richard Michaels and Sharon Brown. As faculty at Leadership that Works, they certify coaches who offer personal, organization and community transformation. Check out the free Power of Coaching teleclass.

Coaching is life-changing, world-changing work. The coaching programs at Leadership that Works go beyond theories and models and work with clients on a deeper level. You learn how to coach the whole person: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Whole person Transformation.

Leadership that Works

Transforming the world.
One heart at a time.

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