Please be so kind and tell us briefly – what is process oriented psychology?

Process oriented Psychology is a mind body spirit integrative approach to individual, relationship, family, group, and world issues. Process Work, as it is called, emphasizes following nature and learning to flow with what is happening. Process Work is an awareness-based method.

On a practical level, many times we go to this kind of person for bodywork, and another one for dreams. Then we have to find someone for meditation work, or extreme state work, or movement work. If we have relationship or family problems that normally means another therapist or school of psychology, and if we want to change the world that usually means psychology avoids that topic. Mainstream psychology often says don’t bring up social issues as part of your therapy.  Process work integrates all of these different aspects into a single theoretical  and practical framework. There are days when I am traveling, where I may (in a day) be working on people’s body symptoms, relationship problems, on someone in a coma, on family issues related to coma, and then at night on a world issue at an open forum. So to have a wholistic method we need to train in many areas and be fluid in being able to apply our method.

I would like to talk more about conflict. What is conflict, really.. beyond the obvious and superficial?

In Process Work conflict is one of 4 phases of awareness and interaction. The essence of conflict is there, is us and them, me and you. In conflict we learn to take a stand for ourselves and for others. We face polarities on the outside that mirror polarities on the inside. Conflict provides us with the opportunity to momentarily transcend these conflicts and get closer to ourselves and to others, if we can learn to conflict with awareness. Conflict is all about thinking and interacting as if life is built on polarities and duality.

Why is it so hard for us to live without conflict? Why, once present, is it hard for us to look and work past it? Why so often (despite seeing it’s harmful and destructive nature) people hold onto it? Why can’t we just let go?

Conflict is a natural occurrence, and in Process Work we say it is a phase of awareness development. We aren’t meant to live without conflict, we are meant to develop the awareness to flow with conflict and have conflict and then move through it and beyond it. To let go we must develop our phase 4 detachment skills.  These skills are based on our awareness development and our skill development. We aren’t trained in how to conflict, so we have a world of out of control destructive conflict. We need to train our children from grade school on, so they become like black belt masters in conflict, moving fluidly from phase to phase. Many peace approaches are at war with conflict. In Process Work we don’t fight conflict; we flow with it and through it and past it.

In Elijahs Codes interview (which I love wholeheartedly by the way) while explaining the proces mind intervention you mention working on the polarities to reach an internal unity through movement. Please correct me if I am wrong but that rings a bell of an internal conflict as to my understanding. Why do internal conflicts occur and can we approach them the same way as the conflicts we’re having with the outside world, with our close ones, relatives, coworkers, etc.?

Inner conflicts reflect outer conflicts and vice versa. In Process Work we say you can’t have an outer conflict unless you have the same fight inside you. The same techniques for working with outer polarities and conflicts are used for inner conflicts. In a seminar I am giving this spring in London on Healing History we will focus on understanding this flow from inner conflict to outer conflict to world conflict. Working on conflict and world change takes both, inner work and outer social change. These worlds of meditation, psychology and world change have often been split but in Process Work we say they are all integral parts of the other. My inner process is full of world issues. World change means inner work, change just can’t happen on the outside it flows from the inside to the outside and from the outside to the inside.

Peace happens one step at a time and all the sudden, when enough small steps happen, the shift occurs.

One of the most common conflicts we can have outside of ourselves is with our significant other, are there any process based psychology „tricks”, if you will, that can help us resolve our day-to-day issues with our partner?

There are so many ways to help work on our conflicts with our significant other. My wife and I just taught a weekend on this. Work on your signals and double signals (non verbal signlas that don’t go along with your verbal signals) and by bringing in these signals with awareness much can clear up. Learn to take your side and the other side in conflict, as well as learn to detach and get free of conflict, into a non polarized state, to work on conflict. Study Process Work methods to create more physical and emotional intimacy. See my books Dance of Sex and Love Power and Wisdom can hep with this. Clear up your own personal family relationship and historical trauma to be more present for your self and your partner. See my book Healing History can help here.  Learn to consciously work on rank and power issues in the relationship. Finally invite your spirituality into all aspects of your relationship. Make the relationship your path to awakening.

Can a chronic physiological symptom be an information from our subconscious calling out to us, to say that an internal conflict is taking place, that something is wrong? If so – how can we read into that? How can we interpret our symptoms on our path to healing?

Symptoms are full of meaning. We have many methods to unlock the meaning, so the symptom reveals to us its meaning, we don’t have to interpret the meaning. You mention conflict. One approach we have is to say a symptom is an unresolved, unfacilitated conflict. We use Earth based and other methods to facilitate this conflict. For example, I had a shoulder injury from my Aikido training. The muscle got injured and it felt very tight and restricted. This was in conflict with another part of me that is very loose and free. So healing this injury means many things including healing this split that is not only in my shoulder but in other parts of my life and in the world.

You are well known for your worldwork and extreme conflict facilitation, especialy in the Middle East. Many have lost hope and believe that the Palestinian – Israeli conflict is unresolvable. What do you believe can still be done? How should the issue be approached in order to reach peace?

Israel Palestinian conflict work will take a long time but I expect it to heal just like other long term conflicts like Northern Ireland and South Africa. It may not happen in my lifetime though. We need lots of open forums, group process, ways that go beyond bullets and rockets and walls to try to resolve these deep conflicts. Our groups make small steps. Two leaders from different sides become friends. Someone decides not to become a suicide bomber. A city says we prevented a riot. Peace happens one step at a time and all the sudden, when enough small steps happen, the shift occurs. Keep up the work is the message, keep up the work not only to stand for peace but to facilitate conflict. We are required to have so much patience knowing that conflicts that took a long time to become chronic and repetitive can take lots of time to heal. My dream would be to train hundreds of people in this region to facilitate conflict. Instead of just training so many people on both sides in the art of war, train so many people on both sides in the art of conflict facilitation and peace making.

You said that you would like “people to be a little bit more comfortable with addressing something in their family, at work or in their church”. How can we encourage people to address and resolve issues rather than suppress them and live in hurt which (sadly) often seems to come too naturally to us as human beings? 

As people become trained in conflict work it won’t be scary and won’t seen as something to avoid until conflict explodes. We should learn from elementary school on so it becomes a natural fluid effective safe part of life. Then it is no big deal. We conflict, we change sides, we detach, we resolve conflict and we take it easy. We train people in how to use a checkbook, how to drive a car, but one of the skills that is most important to our relationships and our planet’s survival we don’t yet train in. This needs to change worldwide. We can encourage people to train in how to be in and move through conflicts and then encouraging them isn’t so hard. It is like swimming. Encouraging someone to jump into deep water who can’t swim is not only scary it can be dangerous. Train them to be excellent at swimming it is no big deal. Same with conflict. Training and practice makes for fluidity and advancement in any art.

Rozmawiała: Anna Schreckenberg

Gary Reiss has a private practice in Eugene and Portland, Oregon, has been Director of Rivers Way Community Clinic in Portland for 20 years, and teaches Process oriented Psychology worldwide, now actively teaching in 17 countries. He is a senior faculty member at the Process Work Institute, and brings 40 plus years’ experience to his work. His specialties include family therapy, sex therapy, working with coma patients, Worldwork in hot spots in the world, organizational development, and integrating Process Work with different spiritual traditions. He has published 10 books including The Dance of Sex; Dreaming Money: and Families that Dream Together. His latest book is Love, Power and Wisdom.