Apply Spiritual Disciplines
to Your Spiritual Direction Practice
Through the Intensive Journal ™ Program of Ira Progoff, PhD

Ira Progoff

Combining principles of depth psychology and spiritual disciplines to create an integrated tool for ongoing development

•   Reflective/Contemplative Approach
•   Obtain Inner Wisdom
•   Integrated Process Using Writing
•   Learn Valuable Techniques
•   Complement to Spiritual Direction Sessions
•   Connect with the Spirit

Workshops taught internationally (mostly online) by certified leaders under the auspices of Dialogue House

What is the Intensive Journal method?

An Integrated Series of Writing Exercises

To access and connect with your emotions and experiences. Sample exercises cover personal relationships, career/special interests, life history, dreams and imagery, and spirituality.

Workshop Atmosphere:
Implementing Principles of Depth Psychology

  • Creates a progressively deepening environment working at a depth level away from your daily routine to become centered and access your inner process.
  • Work in total privacy in a non-judgmental and non-analytical frame of mind.

The Goals of the Program Include:

  • Get to know yourself better;
  • Develop the continuity and direction of your life;
  • Gain a foundation on your life as you work in its many areas;
  • Work through issues over time within the context of your life;
  • Become sensitive to using symbolic imagery as an integrated part of your life;
  • Develop the spiritual aspect of your life.

Practical Techniques for Working with the Deeper-Than-Conscious

  • Covers such areas as dreams, imagery, and spirituality;
  • Each area becomes an integrated part of an evolving life process;
  • Provide leads for creativity and insight about areas of life.

Apply Spiritual Disciplines

  • Stresses the importance of spiritual development as a component of overall growth: one of the four dimensions of the Intensive Journal workbook focuses on the subject of Meaning (Process Meditation).
  • Adopts a neutral set of procedures to connect participants with their beliefs, values, faith, or lack thereof.
  • Utilizes a reflective meditative approach for connecting with one’s true self.

Workshop Details

  • Certified leaders guide you step-by-step through Intensive Journal exercises;
  • Offered under the auspices of Dialogue House, the administrative headquarters for the work of Dr. Progoff;
  • Conducted primarily online through Zoom;
  • Typically 12 hours in length, spread over 2 days with breaks to pace the work;
  • Scheduled on weekends and weekdays;
  • Typical costs are about $210-$225 per 2 day workshop.

Statements from Dr. Progoff about his approach to human development

My goal in creating Dialogue House is to provide a place where people can go to work privately in their lives using the Intensive Journal method. Then, after the workshop, they can use the Journal on their own, returning as necessary to the workshops.

Ira Progoff, PhD

Connect with your creative process to discover the real you

“The Intensive Journal process is our inner workshop, the place where we do the creative shaping of the artwork of our life.”

"Creative persons who reach out for the deeper mystery of reality... are also expressing their seed nature."

“The ultimate task of the new psychology is to reestablish man’s connection to life, to the sustaining forces beyond all intellectual doctrines."

"Events that seem to contradict one another all are part of the unity of process by which a life unfolds."

Learn a tool to use throughout your evolving life

"The Intensive Journal process is an open-ended means of gaining a perspective on where you are in the movement of your life."

"People become sensitive to the elusive threads of their inner lives when they have a definite way of working with them."

Work at a deeper-than-conscious level

"The method provides an indirect approach to solving our life problems ...we step back and move inward and meet them at a deeper level."

“Outward activity propelled from within is the essence of creative existence.”

Access symbolic imagery in its various forms

"The creative person is one who is able to draw upon the images within himself and then to embody them in outer works, moving inward again and again for the inspiration of new source material, and outward again and again to learn from his artwork what it wants to become while he is working on it."

Clarify and deepen the spiritual dimension of your life

"The meaning of life cannot be told; it has to happen to a person."

"Only an experience of a meaningful life can make a person whole."

"For many people the Intensive Journal process has evolved into a spiritual discipline that fulfills the creative role of awakening."

A Pioneer in Developing Techniques for Profound Spiritual Growth

Beginning in the early 1950s, Dr. Progoff was a leading proponent of the importance of spiritual development as an overall component of psychological healing and growth.

The Cloud of Unknowing

Dr. Progoff wrote one of the leading introductory commentaries and translations on The Cloud of Unknowing by the 14th century anonymous monk as he describes how individuals can become connected to God.

"What is separating man from God is not any physical thing but the state of his consciousness. More specifically, it is man's consciousness of his separateness, of his existence as an individual apart from God that keeps him separated from God. To overcome this awareness of separateness, he must place himself in a psychological situation that weakens, and ultimately dispenses with, the conscious guidance of his personal being. He must permit himself to drop into a condition of unconsciousness, a condition of total unknowing. This encompassing state of unknowing is the cloud of unknowing that covers him in darkness, dulls his awareness of his separate existence, and provides the medium in which his union with God may take place."

Developing Spiritual Disciplines

As a leading psychotherapist, Dr. Progoff stressed the importance of creating a conducive atmosphere and approaches for connecting with your true inner self. He emphasized:

Process Meditation procedures

Process Meditation methods provide an integrated set of procedures for deepening inner experience in the context of your entire spiritual life. They provide an ongoing spiritual discipline for working actively and systematically at an inner level reaching toward an experience of greater meaning.

Direct ongoing experience

"There is no use in one person attempting to tell another person what the meaning of life is. It involves too intimate an awareness. A major part of the meaning of life is contained in the very process of discovering it. It is an ongoing experience of growth that involves a deepening of contact with reality.

Silence and privacy

"Spiritual contact, the awareness of the profounder meanings of life and the experience of its symbols, is an individual endeavor that can be carried through only in the silence of privacy."

Working at an inner level

"When our attention is focused inwardly at the depth of our being in the context of the wholeness of our life, resources for a profound knowledge of life become accessible to us."

Dr. Progoff's work then culminated in his creation of the Intensive Journal method that provided a practical means for implementing his philosophical approach described above. He provided a practical way for ongoing self-discovery and growth to develop your life, including spiritual awareness using his Process Meditation™ procedures.

Intensive Journal Method: A Form of Prayer

The format of the Intensive Journal workbook and its individual exercises, and the workshop atmosphere are some of the reasons that the Intensive Journal method has been viewed as a form of prayer.

Prayer and meditation in the midst of life

Dr. Progoff states that the "Intensive Journal work is indeed a type of prayer and meditation but not in isolation from life and not in place of active life involvement. Rather, it is meditation in the midst of the reality of our life experiences. It draws upon the actualities of life for new awarenesses, and it feeds these back into the movement of each life as a whole."

Atmosphere for prayer

The inward movement of the method creates an inherently meditative quality where the workshops have reminded participants "of profound prayer or of deep meditation." Prayer requires a "special condition of being, an inner state of unity, freed from the interventions of his [her] conscious ego, in which the ground of his [her] being was connected with an at-one with the abiding reality of God."

Being in relationship with God

The essence of prayer is being in relationship with God. A key aspect of the Intensive Journal method is being in relationship with major aspects of your life, including wisdom figures such as God. These exercises help you gain unpredictable insights as you deepen your connection to each area.

Adopting an accepting and non-judgmental approach

Effective prayer requires each of us to bare our soul to God to accept divine wisdom and forgiveness. We work in the Intensive Journal method using a non-judgmental approach, recording both positive and negative thoughts as a way to honestly connect with the full scope of our lives.

Repetitive meditative breathing exercises

The Intensive Journal method uses a repetitive meditative breathing exercise that is called the Mantra/Crystal exercise, to create a great energy and atmosphere for wisdom.

Employing Eastern Religious Traditions

Dr. Progoff was a proponent of employing traditions that are found in Eastern religious traditions. He was a student of Zen master D.T. Suzuki. Dr. Progoff’s methods include:

Adopt a non-judgmental attitude, becoming receptive to working with a full range of experiences and feelings.

Focus inward in a neutral, unbiased way to the source of direct knowing, your true inner self.

Adopt no expectations or time frames for answers to issues or making decisions; awareness comes when it is ready to reveal itself as you adopt an approach of passive receptivity.

Work in silence to become centered and focused to access your inner self.

"Intensive Journal retreats are where I am able to return to myself without distraction, guided through gentle meditations and intriguing prompts to discover the threads weaving through my life. The process leads me to a teaching that is uniquely growing out of my unique life. In the Buddha's dying words, he urged his followers to "Be a lamp unto yourselves" -- exactly what the Progoff process facilitates, as we dive down to find the truths of our own experiences over time."

Helen Hobart
Sacramento Dharma Center

Featured Article

The Intensive Journal Program: A Spiritual Tool for Modern Times
by Rev. Wallace Chappell

Rev. Chappell was a United Methodist Minister in Dallas, TX who also led Intensive Journal workshops for over 30 years as a certified leader.

The Intensive Journal process has been, for the years, one of the primary “tools” for my own inner journey in a life of ministry.

Most of the great spiritual writers across the centuries stress being silent, listening, and attending to the voice of God. But the fact of life for busy pastors is the incessant schedule pressure which almost excludes quiet moments. It is hard enough to settle into silence, and even harder to linger there until God “speaks.” Our personal depths become as churned up as our life schedules. The result is very little serenity, meditation, or sense of God’s presence in what was intended to be a religious life.

Within this condition of constant demands and endless doings, it is great to discover a modern system for achieving the deeper listening that brings a sense of God’s presence, peace, and will. The Intensive Journal program has been that for me. It gives us something to do, on the way to our deeper self. That doing, that deeper awareness, and the power for Godly living that flows from it, is a practical way of speaking of the Intensive Journal method. The method is proven by the results. The Intensive Journal process “works” for religious people who don’t live in a monastery.

Details are too extensive for this testimony, but the result is beyond question:

  • Current issues clarify themselves;
  • Old relationships are healed;
  • Next steps define themselves;
  • Old agonies are dealt with;
  • A deep energy flows into life;
  • The “voice” of God stirs in our thoughts.

And this takes place at an experiential level, a level that underlies the intellectual structure of creeds and doctrines. You trust what you “hear.”

Laity find the method powerful, not only in reconciling a troublesome past, but also in the discernment of next steps in life. In the language of classic spirituality, the Intensive Journal method is a work of discernment. Many also discover an “inner counselor” that leads them into a capability for living life without frequent pastoral ‘hand holding.’ One middle-age woman was ecstatic and thrilled to put to rest old issues with her father. She said, “It was like he was here talking to me.”

The Intensive Journal program has been one of the foremost “pieces” of my own inner life for so long I wonder what I did before I found it. Of all the spiritual disciplines that I have used across the years, this one has been the most dependable in keeping me on track, energized, and focused. I recommend it to all pastors and the congregations they serve.

Originally published in the Progoff™ Ministry Newsletter, Vol. 1, Issue 1, Winter, 2007, p. 3.

Use the Intensive Journal method to enhance your spiritual direction process

Connect With Many Facets of Your Life

Develop a foundation on your life as you work in many areas to develop a more meaningful life. Realize connections and relationships between different areas of your life and the spiritual component.

Enhance Your Listening Skills

Increase your attentiveness to recognizing many different facets of experience. Become more receptive to hearing your inner voice and less judgmental and reactionary.

Obtain a Direct Experience in Your Life

Benefit from a deepening workshop experience away from your daily routine to connect with your inner self.

Experience a Reflective and Contemplative Process

Apply a neutral meditative process for becoming centered and deepening your inward journey.

Learn Practical Exercises for Connecting With the Spiritual Dimension

Deepen your experience of the Sacred in your life. Discern the deep inner purpose and direction of your life as it can be lived most authentically in the world. Connect with and develop greater awareness and sensitivity to important religious/spiritual experiences. Clarify beliefs, values, priorities truths, purpose and religious/ spiritual experiences.

Tap Into the Wisdom of Spiritual Figures

Use Progoff's technique of inner dialogue to connect with the wisdom of spiritual figures to obtain clarity and understanding to resolve issues.

Benefit from the Whole Life Approach

Develop a broad foundation on your life, working in many different areas. Then, you can work through specific issues within the context of your entire life, leading to more optimal results since you know yourself better. It also provides greater safety since you are working within a framework of your entire life, rather than in isolation.


Learn practical techniques to use with directees;

Experience the Intensive Journal method so you know how it can benefit directees;

Become a more effective spiritual director by developing your own life;

Spiritual directees become more engaged in their own development by using the Intensive Journal method to raise and work through issues. Spiritual direction sessions are more productive.

Spiritual directees are able to work through issues more quickly and more effectively.

Highlights of Dr. Progoff’s Career


First American to Complete His Doctoral Dissertation on the Work of Dr. Carl Jung

Upon reading Dr. Progoff doctoral dissertation, Dr. Jung invited Dr. Progoff to study with him in Switzerland in the early-mid 1950s, with a focus on the latter works of Dr. Jung. Dr. Progoff’s dissertation was published as Jung’s Psychology and Its Social Meaning. He later wrote a book on Dr. Jung’s concepts of synchronicity entitled Jung’s Synchronicity and Human Destiny.

Dr. Progoff presented at the annual Eranos conferences in Switzerland from 1963-1966 with his articles being published in Eranos Yearbooks. Dr. Jung was intimately involved in these conferences prior to his death in 1961. Dr. Progoff published these articles in his book, The Dynamics of Hope.

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Wrote a Trilogy of Books on Depth Psychology Describing His Theories of Human Development

The titles are Death and Rebirth of Psychology, Depth Psychology and Modern Man, and The Symbolic and the Real. These works formed the basis for creating the Intensive Journal method


Prominent Advocate for the Integration of Spirituality into an Overall Program for Human Development

Progoff wrote one of the leading introductory commentaries and translations on The Cloud of Unknowing by the 14th century anonymous monk as he describes how individuals can become connected to God.


Created the Intensive Journal Method in the Mid-1960s

Provides a practical way for people of different backgrounds and interests to develop their lives;

Implemented his theories of human development that he termed holistic depth psychology;

Served as director of his organization, Dialogue House Associates, the administrative headquarters for the Intensive Journal program

Taught internationally under the auspices of Dialogue House through its certified leaders.


Refined the Intensive Journal method; professor, lecturer and author.

Added a major section on spirituality (the Meaning Dimension to the Intensive Journal workbook) which he described in his book, The Practice of Process Meditation (this material is now incorporated into the revised edition of At a Journal Workshop (1992).

Conducted hundreds of Intensive Journal workshops nationwide as he refined and developed the method further. Workshops also conducted for low income staff at a geriatric center and for offenders in the criminal justice system.

Graduate school research professor at Drew University in New Jersey studying the lives of creative persons and the processes that made them creative and dynamic.

Well-known lecturer on a broad range of topics related to psychology and spirituality.

Author of numerous published articles on his philosophy of human development and the Intensive Journal method.


Authored Fourteen Books on

The Intensive Journal method;

Meditation (Entrance Meditation readings);

The work of Dr. Jung;

Depth psychology;



Spiritual Director

The Progoff Intensive Journal method is a powerful reflective tool for accessing inner wisdom and the movement of the Spirit. Its process for deepening awareness enhances the spiritual journey. I highly recommend it for those providing or receiving spiritual direction.

Dr. Marianne LaBarre
Portland, OR

Spiritual Director

I found the program initially attractive because it is open to and compatible with the possibility of a relationship with the transcendent. In other words, it has a spiritual dimension.

Rev. John McMurry, SS
Baltimore, MD

Spiritual Director

As a spiritual director, I find the Intensive Journal method to be a helpful tool on the spiritual journey in many ways. It provides an opportunity and a tangible process in which to do the 'inner work'. The method can help broaden perspectives, and facilitate awareness of the connections that exist in all areas of our lives, facilitating integration and expansion of various aspects of our lived experience.

The Journal honors every aspect of our life and encourages us to trust what we experience. It encourages us to develop and use our intuitive gifts as a way of knowing.

The Intensive Journal method provides the same sort of inner space that a retreat can for anyone wanting to open themselves more deeply to a spiritual process. It can be a gift to us as spiritual people trying to tend our journey. The Intensive Journal process is a tool that can help us honor the life that we live and in that, the Source from which that life flows.

Ruth Wirtzfeld
Fargo, ND

Spiritual Directee

I have been involved in spiritual direction for many years and the Intensive Journal process was an integral part of enhancing the sessions with my director. My spiritual director and I have both utilized Dr. Progoff’s Intensive Journal method, having attended many workshops.

The Intensive Journal method was an extremely important tool in a number of ways. My spiritual director and I could follow the threads of continuity or connections between different phases of my life, and see patterns in my life history as they emerged in the Progoff approach. Using the method helped me develop an expanded consciousness about the elements of my life and synthesize a coherent whole identity from all the various and divergent areas of my life.

We also focused on issues of belief, personal limitations, challenges for personal and spiritual growth, sexuality, my professional counseling career, and even balancing my participation in both Christian and Buddhist traditions. I gained clarity as we worked through these issues. My tendency to over-scrupulosity from boyhood, my fears of having no beliefs, and my major life transitions as I grew older all were reflected into our spiritual direction process with the Intensive Journal method being the vehicle we used as our primary mutual referent.

The entirety of my life at each step of the way was reflected in the Intensive Journal method and we actively used my journal as a tool for discussion of my issues when we’d meet face-to-face for spiritual direction. I developed more responsiveness to my director’s suggestions and directions, and documenting the process gave me a substantial body of material to embrace as the content of my inner life, and claim as my own. I believe I developed a much clearer identity as a result of the Progoff process, and that both my spiritual director and I used the Intensive Journal method to traverse sometimes difficult ground with ease and in-depth.

R. Glenn Guillory, ACSW, SFO
Glenmora, LA

Simple Ways to Learn More

We have many ways for you to learn about Dr. Progoff’s pioneering work in depth psychology and the Intensive Journal method. If you find our program of interest, we invite you to join our mailing list and consider attending an Intensive Journal workshop.


Read our two most popular articles

The Way of the Journal, by Robert Blair Kaiser Download PDF ↓

This article originally published in Psychology Today provides an excellent introduction to the program, describing the workshop experience and Dr. Progoff‘s unique background and philosophy.

The Intensive Journal  Process: A Path to Self-Discovery, an interview with Ira Progoff, PhD by Kathy Juline. Download PDF ↓

Dr. Progoff explains his philosophy of human development and key principles and aspects of how he implemented it in creating the Intensive Journalmethod. Dr. Progoff discusses the importance of each person connecting with their inner nature to realize their potential. He explains how the Intensive Journal method can help us achieve this goal.

“One of the goals of psychology is to help individuals to live and unfold the potentials of their being in terms of the wholeness of their inner nature rather than a partial or fragmented aspect of their outer lives.”

“The creative process in people’s lives takes time to unfold before they can truly realize their potential and know what their lives are trying to become. Before that occurs, people experience cycles of hope and anxiety, success and failure, confidence and uneasiness...

“The Journal provides an instrument that helps people to maintain perspective as they move from the valley of anxiety until they reach the upward phase of the cycle. They learn from these cycles of experience so their awarenesses are enlarged and new capacities are realized. They work through their cycles of experience to realize their potential.”


Listen to a portion of Dr. Progoff’s lecture entitled Active Methods of Spiritual Growth - Develop Meaning in Your Life

Acquaint yourself with the fundamental concepts of Process Meditation techniques, a tangible method for developing your inner life without analysis or intellectual self-consciousness. Covers the importance of drawing from your inner life to enrich your outer existence and vice versa. Dr. Progoff conducts selected Intensive Journal exercises and provides feedback and explanations to audience participation.



Purchase Dr. Progoff’s award-winning book At a Journal Workshop (Rev. Ed. 1992)

Describes each Intensive Journal exercise with background information. An excellent resource to use after attending an Intensive Journal workshop.

"One of the most significant psychospiritual books of the twentieth century."

Common Boundary Magazine Award

Common Boundary’s distinguished committee selected 65 books of the twentieth century which transformed individuals or impacted the fields of psychology and the nature of spirituality, or both. This list included leading figures from the fields of psychology, philosophy and theology such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Martin Buber, Norman Vincent Peale, Carl Rogers, and Rollo May.

Dr. Ira Progoff was selected for his pioneering book on the Intensive Journalmethod - At a Journal Workshop (original edition 1975).

Next Steps


Join Our Mailing List

We invite you to join our mailing list.

Receive program updates, including announcements of Intensive Journal workshops;

*Obtain a free copy of chapter 1 from Dr. Progoff’s primary book on the Intensive Journal program: At a Journal Workshop (Rev. Ed 1992)

*You should receive a response within 24-48 hours.


Experience a sample Intensive Journal exercise

One of our certified leaders, Dave Arbogast, will provide you with an overview of the principles for using the Intensive Journal method followed by an opportunity to experience a sample Intensive Journal exercise.


Try a 3-hour Introductory Session for only $25*

Learn the key principles for using the Intensive Journal method. Experience sample Intensive Journal exercises as applied to your life to know what happens in a workshop.

This is not a sales pitch; you are learning how to use the method. We let the Intensive Journal method sell itself.

By attending this session, you will have a much clearer idea of what the Intensive Journal method is and whether you want to register for a full Part 1 - Life Context Workshop (LC): Gaining a Perspective on Life, a 12 hour program.

To register for a 3-hour session: Register Now

  * The $25 rate applies where Dialogue House is handling the registration and includes the registration button on this page. Other organizations that are hosting a 3-hour introductory session may charge different rates and involve a separate registration process.


Attend an Intensive Journal workshop

An Intensive Journal workshop is truly a life-changing memorable experience. The concepts that you have learned about in this overview will come alive in your life to create a profound experience for your ongoing development.

The workshops are listed on our website. Most are online through Zoom; we are offering a limited number of in-person programs at retreat centers. You will receive announcements about programs that are coming up.


Questions? Contact us!

Contact us at 330-998-6000 or at [email protected] for additional information.


Let's be friends on Social Media!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We have put a great deal of material on our Facebook and Instagram pages, including statements from Dr. Progoff, participants and other notable people in society.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel. You can listen to sample portions of Dr. Progoff’s Entrance Meditation readings, his lectures, and interviews. Listen to the content of articles that have been converted to audio.