The Long Version: What the Process is and How it Works

What is the Process, and How Does it Work?


The Process is a highly effective psychotherapy program. It is based on the belief that almost all psychological and spiritual problems are the result of people losing their sense of self.

The Process differs from other forms of psychotherapy.  It is an intensive, accelerated, structured program, presented in a series of steps which combine the best aspects of group and individual therapy, over a two month period.  The Process skillfully utilizes understanding and techniques similar to those of modern depth, humanistic, gestalt, cognitive, and transpersonal psychologies.  Your personal teacher/therapist guides you every step of the way, maximizing your growth in a safe and nurturing environment.  While other forms of therapy can take years to come to any concrete resolutions, the Process can achieve even better results in only two months.

Most people were not loved as children the way they needed or wanted to be loved.  These children grow up into adults who are unable to completely love themselves or their own children.  This lack of love can show itself in many different ways, for example:  negative love relationships, fears, depression, poor parenting skills, inappropriate anger, inability to grow toward one’s potential in career or in creativity, or perhaps through the absence of a spiritual connection in one’s life.

The Institute for Personal Change helps you develop an inner source of strength that you can rely on to become the complete human being you were meant to be.  Through the work of the Process for Personal Change you can learn to know yourself, to be at peace with your past, and to guide your future on a path that you choose.

What the Process Accomplishes

The Institute for Personal Change takes you on a journey back to your self.  After completing the Process for Personal Change, you will:

  • Understand how your childhood affects the way you are now.
  • Understand the dynamics of the family you were raised in.  After completing the Process, you will no longer be driven by the need for love and acceptance from your parents and others, because you will find it in yourself.
  • Become a better human being, better parent, and know how best to handle the problems that inevitably come up in parent-child and all other relationships.
  • Learn to choose your responses rather than automatically react when your buttons are pushed.
  • Learn to forgive and love yourself. With self-forgiveness, you become able to love yourself in a new and more complete way — able to “re-parent” yourself.

At the conclusion of the Process, clients often describe themselves as open, centered, loving, not afraid, and in control of their own lives. They are more able to trust themselves and their “gut” reactions.

The Process can help you find a new, authentic grounding for your life.  It goes beyond insight.  It can actually help you to create the life you want.

While the Process has a structure with a beginning, middle and end, the work done in the Process is really a beginning for most people. Once your eyes are opened and you have the experience of self love, you can then continue the growth process on your own. The Process continues to work in our lives, to help our personal growth and transformation over many years.

The journey you take at The Institute for Personal Change could be the most beautiful, important journey of your life.  We sincerely hope you’ll take it.

How Does the Process Work? The Nine Week Structure

The Process for Personal Change differs from other forms of psychotherapy most particularly because it is taught like a course. It has specific steps and experiences, and takes a specific time (two months) to complete. Each client has his or her own individual teacher/therapist, and is also part of an intense and supportive group experience.

To help you envision the work, we use Joseph Campbell’s model of the Heroic Journey.  The hero-heroine receives a Call (hearing about the Process), crosses a threshold (deciding to do it), travels a Road of Trials (learning the truth about your past, never easy), encounters Helpers (your teacher, classmates and inner guides revealed as you embark on the journey), experiences a Mystical marriage (committing yourself to Yourself for ever), receives the Elixir of Life (understanding your life’s meaning), and Returns (rejoining the community/family from which you came).  But you return a changed being, bearing a Gift, the gift of knowing who you really are.

During the course of your journey, you will meet regularly for three to four hours each week with a group of approximately 10 – 15 people. You will have weekly one-on-one counseling sessions with your own teacher/therapist. There will also be 10 – 15 hours of individual writing assignments to complete at home each week. Although the Process is an intensive program, it is designed to be as compatible as possible with normal work schedules.

The Process uses many different methods to reveal and to change the childhood programming that is still running each client’s adult life. These methods include extensive writing assignments, guided imagery, physical release of anger and other experiential work – all within a setting of compassionate support. Many aspects of the self are encouraged to reveal and express themselves: the emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual. By the end of the Process, clients come to experience themselves as truly “whole” – often for the first time in their lives.

The goal of the Process taught at Institute for Personal Change is to help us find our freedom and really experience that our lives belong to us, not to our parents. Understanding the problems we face in achieving the happiness we deserve forms the basis of the work at the Institute for Personal Change.

The way in which this goal is achieved is to go back through our childhood histories and discover exactly how we learned to be the way we are. Through guided imagery and writing specific scenes from your own childhood, your memory of your childhood experiences returns in force, and you can see exactly how and why you developed the characteristics you have as an adult.

After we recognize how we, originally so vulnerable and open to love, were taught so much negativity, our inner children are given total permission and opportunity to express the grief and rage which have been held back so long. In a safe and supportive environment, Process participants are encouraged to weep their grief and express their anger – in no uncertain terms! The grief and anger sessions are managed in a way that expresses these strong and potentially toxic emotions while not allowing them to infiltrate other areas of your life.

When all of this emotion is let out, when the child truly feels cleansed and victorious, and experiences his or her own freedom and power, then it is time to move past anger, and to find a deep compassion for and fellowship with the people who were our parents in this life. We study our parents’ lives and write their histories, as we understand them to be. At this point we are ready to forgive them, and in forgiving to be able to find forgiveness and acceptance and consistent love for ourselves. From this solid base, we are then truly able to change and grow.

The Process’ Four Steps of Self-Discovery

The Process is structured into four main stages. You will be guided and supported through each stage by caring teachers/therapists before beginning a new one. Each stage will provide you with the strength and understanding you need to prepare yourself for the next. At the end of the Process, you will know in your heart that you have completed your own personal process.

1. Orientation

There are two goals during the initial stage of the Process. The first is to teach you certain concepts and techniques to help you complete the Process. After it is over you will be able to build on what you’ve learned during the course. Our teachers will help you overcome your resistance so you can openly experience and participate in the therapy without putting up emotional guards or barriers.

The second goal during orientation is to identify the negative traits and behaviors that are causing you difficulties. Our teachers will call these traits to your attention, both in personal meetings and in taped responses to your homework assignments, as they continually challenge your automatic patterns of behavior.

2. Reliving

In this stage, you will relive parts of your childhood, discovering how your negative traits were created out of a need to earn your parents’ love. Your therapist will guide you repeatedly to a connection between your childhood patterns and your current difficulties. In group sessions, you will re-experience the pain and rage you felt as a child for not being loved enough for whom you were. Only this time, you will be given permission to express your pain and vent your rage openly, cleansing yourself of the conflicting emotions that have been pent up for years.

3. Releasing

After you have felt and expressed the deepest emotions of your childhood, you will explore the childhood experiences of your parents from a new point of view. You will see them experiencing the same yearning for love that you felt as a child, bringing you to a new understanding and forgiveness of your parents. At this point, you have the freedom to develop a new, compassionate connection with them.

4. Relearning

As you continue to release your negative childhood patterns, the Process focuses on learning new, positive patterns, and unlocking your potential to be.

As a graduate of the Institute’s Process, you can feel a new, authentic grounding for your life. You can have a deeper understanding of yourself, your goals, values, relationships, and the various dimensions of your life. You will be ready to grow and blossom into a radiant, fully alive human being.

After completing the Process, you will have one monthly follow-up session to provide additional support, enhance interpersonal skills, and help you continue the Process work on your own. Optional sessions and workshops are available afterwards for continued support.

Once most students make peace with their past and unlock their future potential, the Process becomes a natural part of their lives as they continue to grow, learn, and become.

Three Elements of Change:
Uncovering, Feeling, and Letting Go

The Process can be broken down into three elements necessary for emotional growth: uncovering, feeling, and letting go.

UNCOVERING:  Everyone needs to uncover the unresolved emotions and issues from childhood. Everything that occurred in childhood was recorded at some level.  Much of what went down we could not at the time fully comprehend.  So as the years passed we began to construct myths: “she” was a saint, “he” was a sinner; “I” was the good one/bad one/victim; others helped – or made matters worse: siblings were allies/enemies.  The entire family system becomes represented by myths.  Myths are not untruths, merely symbolic ways of expressing psychological truths.  The ones we create to explain our memories to ourselves are necessary to us so that we can have a way of relating to our past.  But the myth is always a partial and oversimplified version of the subtlety and complexity of reality.  Thus in order to understand ourselves better and resolve the negativities of the past, we need to uncover the reality behind the myth.

In the Process you get the chance to strip away the myths, guided by a teacher/therapist who works closely with you.  You will be shown how to use writing, visualization and drama to access the deeper truth of your own past.

FEELING:  As we uncover the texture and intricacy of our childhood, we begin to access the long-buried feelings that were inadequately expressed in childhood.  Feelings in childhood are so strong that they are usually perceived as “too much” for the family to handle; so we repress them.  We then act them out – and get punished for that.  Often they become inaccessible over the years, and only in dreams do we receive fleeting glimpses – the tidal waves (unshed tears), or the men chasing us with guns (pent up rage), or the horrible threatening monsters (unacknowledged terror).  Some of us do not even dream.  But the feelings remain, binding up our power, limiting our potential, draining away our capability to resolve our problems.  As long as they remain trapped, so long are we trapped.  We “forget” them, only to project out our denied pain, anger and fear onto others in our adult lives.

In the Process you get the chance to shed the cover-ups to your feelings and start to experience them.  We provide a safe structure and a supportive context in which to reconnect with your feelings.  With the skilled encouragement and analysis of your teacher/therapist, you will penetrate the truth of your childhood drama and at last express the strong feelings you once had.  As a result you learn to resolve the left-over issues from childhood.

LETTING GO:  Expressing buried feelings enables us to a large extent to let go of them.  Letting go of the past involves letting go not only of your own pain, but also forgiving the past: your own, your parents’ part in it, and the parts played by the rest of the family.  Through the power of forgiveness you can access the transcendent aspect of your being and find the true meaning of your life.

The Process provides rich visualizations and rituals to assist you in tapping into your own higher power.

A lot to accomplish in two months? Yes indeed, but the Process delivers all the elements required for the journey: a carefully sequenced, skillfully orchestrated course that assists you every step of the way.

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