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Process Oriented Conflict Facilitation
Experience with Conflict Facilitation
Post-War Reconciliation and Rebuilding in Croatia

Process Oriented Conflict Facilitation (also known as Worldwork) offers powerful and effective tools that can help us to create real understanding, reconciliation, social justice, and community. This exciting and innovative method is based on the groundbreaking work of Arnold Mindell, Ph.D. (author of Sitting in the Fire, Leader as Martial Artist, etc.)

A main concept in this approach is ‘deep democracy’ (Mindell, 1992). Democracy usually means that different points of view are represented but ultimately the majority rules. In most groups and societies, however, some voices are pushed to the margins. They are considered irrelevant, irrational, or too extreme.

Mindell’s idea of deep democracy means supporting both mainstream and marginalized voices. It also sees the emotional experiences at the margins of group life as potentially transformative. It is through the expression -- and especially the interaction -- of all the parts, that the wisdom and creativity of a community can emerge. Deep democracy also includes facilitation of the different dimensions of a group’s experience: the outer themes and issues, the background emotions and polarizations, and the underlying shared human experience. For more on this, check out the websites of the Deep Democracy Movement and the Deep Democracy Institute.

The facilitator’s task is to bring awareness to what is actually happening in an individual or group. The method recognizes patterns for change that first appear as a disturbance (Mindell, 1986). A teleological approach, Process Work looks not just for the cause of a problem or how to eradicate it; rather when a problem is unfolded with accuracy and heart, a new way forward is discovered that is often surprising, creative and transformative.

Our ability to process outer conflicts and diversity depends in part on our ability to fluidly process these same issues when they manifest inside of us. When we open our hearts to the diversity inside of us - including the parts of ourselves that we marginalize or don't like - then we can work more deeply and effectively with the diversity and marginalization in our groups, organizations, and communities.

For an example of this work in action, Download the article "Transforming Conflict into Community: Post-war Reconciliation in Croatia" co-written with by Lane Arye, Ph.D. and Arlene Audergon, Ph.D and published in Psychotherapy and Politics International 3(2). This article vividly describes a six year project, "Building Sustainable Community in the Aftermath of the War," that they co-led soon after the end of the war in the Balkans. The project was funded by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and brought together Croats, Serbs, and Muslims to work on ethnic tension, reconciliation, democracy building, and human rights.


Lane also offers Process Oriented Conflict Facilitation workshops and classes. Click here for a schedule or contact Lane to schedule a workshop.


©2002-2005 Lane Arye, Ph.D. All rights reserved.


"When Lane worked with the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, we had just gone through a period of turmoil and painful staff changes. Lane helped us talk about things we had not been able to verbalize or were afraid to express. He gave us space and direction to have the difficult conversations and helped us deepen our dialogue. We worked on personal matters, interpersonal relations, cultural differences, and organizational structures. He helped us clarify our individual goals and our organizational priorities. With his help, we realized we needed to create an operations manual, which turned out to be very useful as our center grew. All of this made our teamwork more cohesive, enabled us to look at the bigger picture, and helped us move forward as an organization. Lane is an insightful and compassionate facilitator."
Anne Huang, Executive Director of the Oakland Asian Cultural Center

"When I met Lane Arye and Arlene Audergon, in 1994, my country was torn apart by bloody war. At that time, Lane and Arlene became our link to the world, and the world's link to us, and somehow our link to the future. Over the years, their commitment to understand, support, and facilitate conflicts and post-war tensions made a tremendous difference. It takes great skill to transform such deep conflicts, and it was hard to navigate through the thick fog of history, myths, prejudice, hatred, violence, mistrust, and hopelessness. Daring to sit in this fire with us and facilitate with respect and true love, Arlene and Lane enabled us to witness in awe moments of change. Hundreds of people left those conflict facilitation seminars with renewed sense of hope, which helped to transform their lives and their communities. Personally, I am grateful for the growth that happened inside me, inside many people I care about, and inside my country through this process."
Tanja Radocaj - Head of UNICEF in Croatia

"I saw Lane Arye and Arlene Audergon conducting reconciliation workshops with the groups of Croats and Serbs in Croatia, just after the war was over, and ever since then I have had no hesitation to recommend either of them for any conflict facilitation work. I saw them demonstrating an outstanding ability to accurately notice and understand the various dynamics in the group, not necessarily the foreground ones only. However, I was far more impressed with their courage and capacity not to understand and, then, venture together with the group in the process of unveiling. Still, all this would be in vain without the end result, which, now from the hindsight, looks even more remarkable than immediately after the workshops, when Serbs and Croats were emotionally expressing mutual understandings and commitments for dialog and support. Most of the participants did actually live up to these commitments."
Misko Mimica - United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Community Services Officer, Pristina, Kosovo

"Lane and Arlene joined us in Croatia during a very hot and difficult period immediately after the war. They participated in the design of the project "Building Sustainable Community in the Aftermath of War," and facilitated many forums for professionals and leaders from all over Croatia. They also trained, supervised, and supported members and associates of our organization. Arlene and Lane showed persistence, tolerance and enormous sensitivity to all our experiences, opinions, emotions and expressions. They helped us to understand processes and encouraged us to work with horrible conflicts and traumatic experiences. Their commitment made a change in us, local professionals - a change away from discouragement, avoidance, and giving up in this difficult job. We plan to work together more in order to prevent violent conflicts, promote higher values, and guide more people in building their sustainable communities."
Nives Ivelja, president of the Association "Mi", Split, Croatia.
President of the Council for Development of Civil Society in Croatia

NOTE FROM LANE: Arlene Audergon, Ph.D. and I have been co-facilitators, co-creators, and cohorts in the Balkans since 1996.

"Dr. Arye served as facilitator in matters concerning the City of Oakland's Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts (formerly the Alice Arts Center), especially conflicting issues involving uses and expectations by a community of performing artists needing low-cost office and performance space, the residents in the low-cost apartments in the facility, and the City itself, with lean budgets and more pressing priorities. Dr. Arye in all matters demonstrated respect for the participants, encouraged open discussion, and led various sessions to solutions that can only come from a thoughtful professional facilitator respected by those with whom he is working. He was a pleasure to work with not only because he found positive outcomes in often tense and difficult situations, but is a warm engaging person who truly cares about his clients.
Dennis M. Power, Ph.D.
Former Director of Cultural Affairs,
City of Oakland, CA

"Something extraordinary about Lane Arye's powerful work is its clarity. The results he gets in working with people in conflict may sometimes seem magical, but he's not interested in mystifying the process; instead, he works with a group to assist people to see what is really happening. When he did a weekend for us in Philadelphia, his group was largely social activists and without missing a beat he adapted his style to the activist subculture. Afterward, he met with a group of activist trainers and added still more to the transparency of his work and thinking. Lane Arye is truly about empowerment."
George Lakey, Director, Training for Change, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania