The COVID-19 Pandemic will gradually subside from the surface of our lives. The traumatic effects will last indefinitely, awaiting transformation of our inward and spiritual selves to create new light and life.
“When day comes we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade…”
Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate, USA (2021)
Intensive Journal® Zoom workshop are 12-hour private, safe writing exercises done in a small group setting.
“Learn the basic operating principles for using the Intensive Journal method through a direct experience in your life. Generate emergent insights in the writing about major areas of your life: personal relationships, career, special interests, as well as body and health. The dialogue process provides a unique way to gain feedback and momentum as you deepen your understanding of these life experiences, renewing your connection to the wider world.”
All three Intensive Journal® method institutional programs have stayed on course via Zoom and Cisco Webex platforms during the summer and fall of 2020. Good fortune in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic social distance protocols instituted throughout the Province of British Columbia, Canada.
The spring and summer program for eight men at the William Head Institution Federal Penitentiary near Metchosin, BC finished in early November, 2020, with certificates awarded to those inmates for completing the 12 weeks of workshop sessions.
In December, the eighth program in four and a half years was initiated for five newly enrolled inmates. The Correctional Services Canada pandemic protocols limit all Canadian prison program groups to a maximum of five inmates. Utilizing a secure Cisco Webex video platform, this group will complete the 4th of 12 weekly workshop sessions on the 30th of December, 2020. The program for this new group of inmates will run through February, 2021.
Since the program began in 2015, nearly 85 inmates have successfully completed the Intensive Journal® program at William Head Institutions. In that time, none of the men who completed the program and have been released on parole have returned to the prison!
The spring and summer program for seven men at the New Roads Community—created by the Our Place Society—in View Royal, BC, finished in mid-November, 2020. Certificates of Completion were awarded to those who completed the required number of 12 weekly workshop sessions. Between the two scheduled groups—the administration and staff at New Roads—undertook a special project to hardwire computer capacity in the secure facility where the Intensive Journal® course is conducted. No WiFi is available in the recently renovated, secure campus facility. Following two weeks of extra effort by the staff and residents, the Intensive Journal® program is now fully operational via Zoom at the New Roads. 11 men enrolled for the current workshop series running until February, 2021.
12 registered family caregivers from the Family Caregivers of British Columbia were enrolled in each of the two six-week series of Intensive Journal workshops across the province of BC. The series both included all of the writing prompts for the Life Context Intensive Journal® workshop. Both workshop series were conducted via Zoom platform with an FCBC staff professional as Zoom host.
Beginning Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the Province-wide Depth Contact workshop series will begin for Family Caregivers of BC. As of mid-December, there are 10 family caregivers enrolled in this workshop series. Registrations are still being taken.
The COVID-19 virus pandemic has shuttered all of the Intensive Journal (I J) workshop sessions worldwide. In consultation with Dialogue House in Ohio, and the proprietor of the I J method Jon Progoff, the “Life Context” , “Depth Contact” and “Life Integration” workshops are now available for ZOOM platform delivery on-line. The initial Canadian I J ZOOM series was Facilitated by Bill Israel and delivered to an international audience in August of 2020.
In collaboration with the FAMILY CAREGIVERS of BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA, the first on-line delivery of the INTENSIVE JOURNAL is underway with a group of 12 front line Family Caregivers.
Two more successful public INTENSIVE JOURNAL® workshops were completed in Victoria, B.C. in 2019. A total 12 participants spent the week-end of June 28-29, in a meditative writing and reflective writing process titled LIFE CONTEXT. On October 11 and 12, seven participants completed the second I J workshop titled DEPTH CONTACT.
SAMPLE QUOTES from six anonymous participants:
“The workshop was profound. Enabled me to see promising means of next steps in my life.”
“Thank you! This process has become a catalyst for a book that is gestating inside me for a very long time. I am truly grateful”
“Powerful and transformative. Excellent structure for depth work and opening up.”
“Thank you. Well facilitated and new revelations”
“I Very much appreciated the meditations and twilight imagery process”
2019 marked a sixth year of INTENSIVE JOURNAL® workshops in Victoria, B.C. In that time we have complete 17 separate public workshops in the same serene confines of the Church of Truth in Victoria, B.C., including one on Salt Spring, Island, BC at the Centre for Yoga. That includes nearly 140 workshop participants from Canada and the USA.
The COVID-19 VIRUS PANDEMIC has halted all of our “in person” INTENSIVE JOURNAL® workshops, in Canada and worldwide for the time being. However, we are prepared to do a world premier presentation of the I J workshop LIFE CONTEXT on – line via ZOOM at the end of May, 2020.
As a certified INTENSIVE JOURNAL® Facilitator /Consultant, Bill Israel also conducts the I J program for inmates at William Head Institution on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. This I J process is offered as a “course” to inmates housed at this minimum security penitentiary for those who volunteer for the 12 session workshop process. Prison facilities and schedule routines will allow for only one 3 hour workshop per week for as many as 10 inmates at a time. Resident inmates must complete all 12 workshop sessions to qualify for a “certificate” for their files.
As of December, 2019, 70 inmates successfully completed the course, having participated in one or another of the 12 week “FOUNDATIONS COURSE” sessions since 2016. An eighth I J course is planned for early 2020, with the positive support of prison administration and Inside Parole Officers.
SAMPLE QUOTES from three anonymous prison participants:
The program was wonderful and helpful. I have rediscovered my love of art.Looking at past decisions (I made) helped me see them in a different light – from a different perspective. The Spiritual Steppingstones section and the Re-Openings of Road Taken and Not Taken were VERY helpful. (Quote from a LIFER, in for 20 + years)
The most helpful part was the continued informal writing expressing oneself on paper – good or bad. Gave me meaningful thought that in my past I was lazy in my thinking and always felt negative. Being true to myself opens the door to spiritual steppingstones that I had lost when I was young. Re-opening this part of my life greatly improves my communication with others. (Quote from a LIFER in for 20 + years)
This course has helped me to re-cap everything (prison programs) I participated in throughout my sentence. The difference, from another perspective, is the non-judgmental, positive energy of the good bunch of guys in our group. I am free from my negative intensity. (Quote from a LIFER in for 20 + years).
Check the www.intensivejournal.org website for the fall of 2020. Bill Israel is presenting the first of two INTENSIVE JOURNAL® workshops – LIFE CONTEXT. Subtitled Gaining aPerspective of Life, this will be the next offering of this two-day meditative, writing process in the City of Victoria, BC since the program started in 2014. This twelve hour workshop experience will provide participants an awareness of prior life experiences, memories and feelings.
On that same weekend, Bill will be facilitating the DEPTH CONTACT workshop on November 19-20 at the Church of Truth in Victoria. Subtitled Symbolic Images and Meaning in Life,this two day workshop is focused on the experience of dreams and images for clarifying priorities and ultimate life concerns.
The INTENSIVE JOURNAL® program has an official sponsor in Victoria. It is The Earth and Spirit Society. You can learn more about the work of this dynamic society at their website www.centreforearthandspirit.ca
Following evaluation consults with the Inmate Committee, the Program Administrators at WHI and support from the Insiitution Parole Officers, the Intensive Journal® program has a new designation, and a renewed schedule. A new group has just begun their work as of March, 2017.
The new “course” is titled FOUNDATIONS for Preparation of PersonalRelease Plans. The response was immediate and very positive. The Parole Officers expressed good support for this volunteer opportunity for inmates to work privately, and in small groups, on life issues, their crime/ incarceration, and preparing written plans for their eventual release on parole. At the first two hour orientation to this renewed writing process 18 inmates attended.
From that initial show of interest, 10 inmates have enrolled in the a 10 week “course” of non-diagnostic, non-judgmental process of guided introspection, meditation, reflection and Journal Workbook writing. Another group of inmates (8) are on the “wait list” for a second “class”.
A limit of 10 participants per group has proven to be an effective number for optimizing the private and intimate nature of the FOUNDATIONS group process. The nature of the course will not permit the admission of late-enrolees to a session that is underway.
At the conclusion of this posting, I will publish the 400 word ABSTRACT paper that I submitted to The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) in March of 2016.
The Abstract was peer reviewed by staff at CIMVHR and accepted for presentation at the national FORUM in Vancouver November 21-23, 2016. The Abstract has been published in the FORUM Journal for the 2016 event.
Under the title The INTENSIVE JOURNAL® Method, A Structured, Professionally Facilitated Procedure for Therapuetic Healing from the Stress of Trauma” Bill Israel manned the 7 foot poster facility amid 64 other “poster presenters” at this national conference.
In addition to a significant number of programs and research projects on varied treatment therapies for military veterans and their families, the INTENSIVE JOURNAL® poster was one a few “new” modalities and approaches for treating the physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of those suffering the effects of trauma.
The peer reviewed ABSTRACT
ABSTRACT SUBMISSION FOR CIMVHR FORUM 2016
The INTENSIVE JOURNAL® (I J) method for therapeutic healing of traumatic stress.
The I J process is a structured, self-help journal method created by Dr. Ira Progoff (1921-98). The method is premised on an hypothesis of holistic depth psychology which he developed subsequent to his years of post-graduate studies with Dr. Carl Gustav Jung. The I J process was developed and refined by Progoff in the course of his 30 year practice as a researcher and psychotherapist at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, USA. The current International website address is www.intensivejournal.org
Operational definitions for holistic, depth, and psychology:
Holism: Whole entities (systems) are greater and more dynamic than the mere sum of their component parts.
Depth: The quality of one’s inwardly perceived self-understanding. A perception of self derived from one’s empirical life-experience, including elements of which are non-cognitive or unconscious.
Psychology: In contrast to a conception of psychology as a descriptive (analytic or diagnostic) science, Dr. Progoff describes it as an evocative discipline. This “evocative” process stimulates a natural, holistic sense of self, inclusive of an evolutionary, creative, inborn healing capacity of the human psyche.
Dr Progoff’s hypothesis integrates the research and thinking of Alfred Adler, MD; Carl Jung, MD; and Otto Rank, MD; in their varied, alternate conceptions of the function of the psyche. In contrast to a traditional Freudian conception of the psyche operation that is reductionist and subject to diagnostic analysis, the integrated works of Adler, Jung and Rank postulate the psyche function as an open-ended, historic and creative source of regenerative human growth potential.
The program entails a professionally facilitated journal writing process, done in small group workshop sessions of 12 hours duration over a two day period. The Journal Workbook writing is private, structured and undertaken in a safe, quiet, meditative environment. The hand-written journal and reflective process begins with conscious (‘surface”) personal life experiences. The writing then progresses toward a more “transpersonal” and non-cognitive sources of holistic and healing creativity as per intuition, dreams and meditative twilight imagery.
This program is appropriate for adults experiencing behavioral, spiritual and psychological effects of trauma, including Adverse Childhood Experience (re: ACE research). It is appropriate for military personnel and adult family members.
Clinical outcomes are measured through self-reporting of clientele regarding improved self-esteem and self control, family and social relationships, life work, hopefulness and meaning of life.
The LIFE CONTEXT (Gaining a Perspective on LIfe) workshop will take place on Friday and Saturday, November 25 & 26 at the Church of Truth. This venue is located at 111 Superior Street in the James Bay neighborhood of Victoria.
The DEPTH CONTACT (Symbolic Images and Meaning in LIfe) workshop will take place on Sunday and Monday, November 27 & 28 at the same venue.
Registration is open and the sessions are about half full. If you are interested to attend please contact Bill at 250-744-0590 or e.mail firstname.lastname@example.org
A FREE two hour orientation to the Intensive Journal method is available on Friday, November 18, 2016. The Chartwell-Ross Retirement Residence is located at 2638 Ross Lane in downtown Victoria. This brief, comprehensive introduction will take place from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Free parking. Refreshments. Q and A following the presentation. Call Bill if you would like to attend.
For the past six months I have been reading and researching material on the emotional, physical and behavioral impacts resulting from the stress of trauma. The most notable sources I have encountered in this recent research effort are three different, well-known medical practitioners, including a psychiatrist. The writings of Dr. Gabor Maté, Dr. Steven Porges and Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk all reveal promising new perspectives about the physical, neurological, emotional and spiritual effects of trauma and in particular early childhood trauma.Each of their insights contributes to new approaches in the treatment of the effects of trauma.
The stimulus for doing this research arose as a result of the experience I have had over the past two years as a volunteer working with long term inmates inside the federal penitentiary at William Head Institution in British Columbia, Canada. Many of these inmates are “lifers”, who have committed serious offences and have spent many years behind bars in a variety of prison environments ranging from maximum to medium to minimum security.
My contact with these men is in two forms. One night a week a group of about 15-20 volunteer inmates gathers in a Restorative Justice Circle conversation with a handful of volunteer “outsiders” (members of the Restorative Justice Coalition of William Head Institution). For 3 hours the group engages in a facilitated “conversation” about life in prison and the process through which inmates must transit to be released on conditional parole.
The second engagement I have with a smaller group of volunteer inmates is through a weekly offering of the Intensive Journal ® workshop process. I have been doing this for almost a year at this writing. It consists of a two hour workshop session that includes meditation, writing and private self-reflection about the past, present and future prospects of their individual lives. Very little talking or group interaction as per the discipline of the Journal method.
The prison system is operated by Correction Services Canada. Their highest declared priority is public safety. Their rehabilitation practices are basically non-existent, focusing primarily on punitive confinement, outdated psychological concepts and required “recovery programs”. Addressing issues of personal trauma is focused exclusively on the victims of these “criminals”. Nowhere in the rehabilitative process, that I have witnessed, are the issues of the perpetrators pre-or post-crime trauma considered, related to inmate rehabilitation.
The most penetrating “insight” for me at this point, given my experience with about 75 different inmates, and as a result of my current research in the trauma phenomena, is the following:
The prison rehab system, in it’s woefully underfunded, and outdated methods, is asking an unproductive question of inmates. The question is premised on the medical meta-narrative of “normalcy” and assumes that with proper programming, psychiatric assessment, psychological treatment and prisoner will-power (induced through punishment), these men can be “cured of their criminality.” The misdirected question, upon which these practices are premised is WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?.
It was in a Youtube video (Vicki Kelley: “The paradox of trauma-informed care”) where I learned this simple truth. The more productive question for these inmates is WHAT HAPPENEDTO YOU? The problem with this is that there is absolutely no capacity for the prison system, in its current practice of punishment, addiction treatment programming and isolation, to pose this question or help facilitate the inmates answer to it.
More on this personal discovery, and how it applies to The INTENSIVE JOURNAL process, and the ironic paradox of self-healing, in my next blog posting.
Bill Israel has been invited to make a presentation to the National Forum for the CANADIAN INSTITUTE for MILITARY and VETERANS HEALTH RESEARCH (CIMVHR). This Instituteis a branch of Veterans Affairs Canada.
In March, 2016 Bill, who is a Certified Facilitator of the Intensive Journal method, submitted an Abstract for consideration the the College of Peers at CIMVHR. The paper is titled “The Intensive Journal: A Professionally Facilitated Journal Method for Therapeutic Healing from the Stress of Trauma. The Abstract was approved for presentation at the National Forum in Vancouver, B.C. November 21-23, 2016.
The INTENSIVE JOURNAL® workshop program has already been approved for inmates at William Head Institution, a federal minimum security prison in British Columbia.
There is much renewed interest and research into the field of trauma, including early Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) studies as well adult experience with trauma. The ACE studies were done by the Kaiser Permanent Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control in the United States (ca. 1980’s)
Dr. Ira Progoff’s INTENSIVE JOURNAL® method offers a non-diagnostic, non-analytic, guided self-help process for individuals engaged in life transitions of all sorts, including holistic healing from trauma.