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 Conversations with Leaders in Self-Care: A Psychological Journal as Self-Care 
Interview with Ira Progoff PhD
   as interviewed by Tom Ferguson MD

How would you compare learning the Journal from the book to learning it from a workshop?

It's probably easier in a workshop, though of course coming to a workshop is not always convenient. If you can do it, though, a whole weekend away from home can be a real help in getting deeply into it in a short time. It gives you a chance to block off all outside pressures and just focus on the movement of your life.

Learning from the book is certainly more convenient. It probably works best if you can give yourself some big blocks of time, at least in the beginning.

You were saying you're now working to make the Journal workshops more widely available.

Yes. We're now working with a number of local groups across the country—churches, community mental health centers, adult schools, universities—to help them set up and run a program of local Journal workshops.

How might that work?

Well, suppose a minister or a therapist has someone in a crisis situation and both counselor and client have been trained in the Journal method. Perhaps the client has tried to work it out for himself in the Journal but hasn't been able to.

The client could bring in his or her Journal, maybe read some of it if he chose, and the counselor, in addition to doing some individual therapy, could suggest some specific work in the Journal that might help. We've developed some specific exercises, a kind of crisis module, to be used at such times.

If some of our readers belong to organizations that might be interested in sponsoring a workshop, would you encourage them to contact you?

Oh, yes. Definitely.

How have other mental health professionals responded to the Journal method? I would think that some might find it a little threatening.

Well, of course, the ones we've been in touch with are the ones who like it and use it. A number of psychologists and psychiatrists are incorporating the Journal into their therapeutic work.

It turns out to be quite adaptable. One of the appealing things about this method is that it isn't instead of anything else. It doesn't promote or contradict any psychological or religious explanation of the nature of man. Freudians can use it. Gestaltists can use it. Behavior therapists can use it. Fundamentalist Baptists can use it. Suns can use it. We've had people from just about every possible religious or philosophical orientation use the Journal successfully. We have Catholic monks and Zen Buddhists sitting side by side in our workshops.

It sounds like you're working toward a vision of a whole new way of approaching the area of mental health care.

Yes, and I'm very encouraged by what you've told me of the self-care movement in the area of physical health. I would hope that the Journal could be an important tool for a similar emphasis on psychological self-care.

The basic concept behind the Journal method is that when you're having a hard time, when you're troubled, it doesn't mean you're sick. It doesn't mean you should immediately go out and put yourself under an expert's care. It may mean that you're in transition, that things are pretty confused for you right now, but that's all right. That's natural. It's a part of the unfolding process of life, as it moves from cycle to cycle.

When you're in a great darkness or feeling very depressed or a lot of anxiety, there are methods of working that will allow our life to tell us what it's seeking to achieve beyond that blockage, beyond that stuck point.

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 About The Author
Tom Ferguson, M.D. (1943-2006), was a pioneering physician, author, and researcher who virtually led the movement to advocate informed self-care as the starting point for good health. Dr. Ferguson studied and wrote......moreTom Ferguson MD
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