At the heart of the workshops and related services that we offer, the quality and integrity of the Intensive Journal™ program remain paramount. Dr. Progoff stressed the importance of offering a uniform program according to his instructions. I have sought to carry on this core priority in all phases of our program: training of our certified instructors, receptivity to feedback from participants, quality control procedures, and the suitability of the facilities that we use.
In our modern face-paced society, we often receive suggestions to help us “get modern” with the process. However, following many of these suggestions would violate key principles of the method and therefore, we have declined to employ them. Here are common examples:
Computers: We are often asked if computers can be used in the workshop. We decline to do so since research has repeatedly shown that writing by hand accesses more areas of the brain. The only exception to this ban is where a participant has a disability that would otherwise prevent them from participating in the program.
Handouts: Should handouts be used in the method? Many suggest doing so, however, we again decline since Dr. Progoff believed that the correct way to learn the method is through practice until use of the process becomes spontaneous and intuitive. (The only exception is a brief handout for the 9 Questions for the Period Log exercise for ease in completing it.) Using handouts tends to put a user in an analytical frame of mind which violates a core objective of the program. Some participants may feel lost during this process, however, Dr. Progoff urged users to “trust the process” and clarity will come over time.
Flip charts, blackboards, and audio visual presentation screens: You may have attended other conferences where a presenter writes key terms on a flip chart or blackboard, or refers to an audio visual presentation screen. We do not use this sort of equipment in the Intensive Journal workshop. While it may seem to make sense in clearly articulating key concepts, these approaches tend to create an intellectual atmosphere more akin to a classroom or presentation. Instead, we urge you to write down key terms or steps of an exercise in your Intensive Journal workbook so that you have it for reference after the workshop. We are trying to create a progressively deepening atmosphere away from your daily routine so that you can access your inner process. This is not easy to do and can be quite fragile. Our unique way of presenting the exercises is critical for the method’s success.
Shortening the length of workshops: Some suggest that the length of workshops could be shortened to make them more accessible, especially for the more impatient younger crowd. We have experimented with various lengths and concluded based upon the input of our certified instructors and seasoned participants that it denigrated the program quality too much and left out certain exercises. Employing a method for accessing an individual’s inner process at progressively deeper levels takes time to accomplish and cannot be rushed. Therefore, we have focused almost exclusively on the full-length 12 hour modules.
Other activities during the workshop: Performing physical activities during the workshop or in between sessions have been recommended to take advantage of trends in body work and massage. However, we urge participants to avoid such activities during our program. Naturally, as participants work intensively in their lives to “loosen the soil of their life,” they may turn up areas that will leave them feeling a bit different.
Feelings of all sorts may come to the surface and it is important to stay with the process, recognize thoughts and feelings by recording them in the Intensive Journal workbook as they continue to unfold in between sessions. We should not engage in activities such as massage therapy and other physical exercise that will interfere with the process taking place inside ourselves. Emotions should be recorded and processed in the Intensive Journal workbook, and not removed through physical exercise.
In summary, we have stayed true to the program that Dr. Progoff created and have resisted changing it to satisfy the demands of newcomers and other participants who are seeking to help make the process “more modern.” Given that it has helped literally thousands of people with different backgrounds and interests improve their lives, Dr. Progoff was fond of saying that it is “a true method” that has stood the test of time. Getting modern? I think the Intensive Journal method is and remains state-of-the-art.