Progoff Intensive Journal Program for Self-Development

Kelley Williams

Kelley Williams

I’ve kept personal journals all my life; even as a child, before I knew how to write, I crafted little books of folded paper and scribbled what looked to me like writing. Later, my journals became a support and consolation when, during a dark time, I left my hopes for a life in the theater and the arts at a crossroads for a 40-year career in academic medicine as a writer and, eventually, as managing editor of scientific publications.

I discovered the Intensive Journal program in 1985 in Chicago, where I lived and worked. There, I met Ira Progoff, PhD, who became my most revered teacher. In 1991, after becoming certified to lead Intensive Journal workshops, I began leading programs in the Midwest. In 2012, I moved to Phoenix, and I now lead workshops in the Southwest and, thanks to the miracle of Zoom, again in the Midwest, and anywhere.

Dr. Progoff saw the Intensive Journal method as more than an instrument for helping us deal with challenge and change.  While it surely accomplishes that, it also encourages the realization of our creative potentials. I found the Intensive Journal program at the height of my career, when I still yearned for the artist’s life I left at that crossroads, and it has guided me through retirement into a creative life, with a book of poems published, a novel nearing completion, and deeply satisfying work as a stained glass artist. Informing and enriching it all is my Journal work.

My greatest challenge came in February 2021 with the death of Fred, my beloved husband of 45 years. My Dialogue with Society exercise, where we enter into dialogue with a social group, in this case Widows, is among the most profound of my Journal experiences, for the Widows told me the ones who are able to live on with meaningful lives are those who are of service to others.

I‘m profoundly grateful to Dr. Progoff, for I know he’s correct when he writes that through the Intensive Journal method, as we develop our capacity to enter the depths of life, and as our sensitivity to the symbolic dimension grows, a new atmosphere radiates outward to influence others, even without our conscious communication. When it is experienced by a sufficient number of persons, we can hope to redirect the destructive course of history by transforming humankind, one life at a time, realizing the true magnitude of human personality. In workshops, I witness that magnitude; lives deepen, grow larger, more creative, loving, radiant

As an artist, I love how Dr. Progoff refers to our life as an artwork and the Journal workbook as being like a musical instrument, for example, “Once you have learned to use it, the Intensive Journal method becomes like a musical instrument you can play; and its melodies are the themes and intimations of meaning in your life. Going to great heights and great depths, the life music persons find themselves playing upon their Intensive Journal instrument is often startling. They did not expect to find in themselves sounds of such strength or sweetness, such sensitivity in the midst of pain, such capacities for harmony, such inner vision.” (At a Journal Workshop, rev. ed. 1992, p 12).

Article By Kelley Williams

An Introduction to the Intensive Journal Method By Kelley Williams

Journal consultant Kelley (Carolyn) Williams explores the history, structure and philosophy behind the Intensive Journal program