A Key Processwork Tool
One of the greatest tools I learned in my years of Process Work training was how to use “Blank Access.” Blank Access is a Process-Oriented Psychology term to describe a technique used to amplify a signal in a particular channel. This can be done by using verbal statements, auditory cues, visual images, or movement prompts. The goal is to create a space for the signal to emerge more fully into awareness.
Once it is identified, the signal can be amplified within that particular channel. Often, the energy will naturally unfold itself through the channels on its own. This technique can help build trust and rapport with others and help them access their inner experience. So let’s break it down!
What is Blank Access?
In The Leader As Martial Artist, Arnold Mindell describes it this way:
“Blank access is a term I use for an intervention that invites the hidden processes to appear.” (page, 43).
Practically speaking, Blank Access means making space for whatever wants to come up, without trying to control or direct the process. It is a way of holding the space for others (or for ourselves) to explore what is alive for them in the present moment.
For example, imagine you are in a meeting and someone starts talking about a difficult issue they are having with a co-worker. You could try to problem-solve or give advice, but that would likely shut down the conversation. Instead, you could use Blank Access to amplify their own experience with gentle cues that address what channel of experience the emergent phenomena is arising.
This can sound a little technical, but it is actually fairly simple. In Processwork, they identify distinct channels where human experience occurs. The first step of Blank Access is to notice what channel the energy or signal is emerging in. Here are the Processwork Channels:
- Auditory : hearing and noticing information as sound. Thoughts are commonly auditory information as they are often “Heard” an internal monologue by the hearer. So is music and environmental noise. If a client begins humming under their breath, or seems suddenly sensitive to background sounds, this is another indicator that they are in the auditory channel.
- Kinaesthetic : the sense of movement. Movement, for many living in highly industrial societies, is usually very unconscious. In terms of channels, this indicates that there is information and messages happening in the kinaesthetic channel that are waiting to share their messages about the person’s wholeness at that moment. *For example, if someone says that they want to go to a party, but when they say yes, they cross their arms over their chest and close their eyes, it shows both that a different signal is arising in the movement channel (their arms) and that something in them is intrinsically directing awareness more towards that channel (the eyes closing).
- Proprioceptive : a feeling sense. Different from the body moving in the Kinaesthetic channel, this is more about feeling and sensing. It could be a rush of cold or hot, a tensing or relaxing, etc. Example: If a person suddenly takes off their jacket, clenches their teeth, stops breathing.
- Visual : perceiving with reference to sight. For example, seeing an image, a visual memory coming up, noticeing a visual element in their surroundings.
- Relationship : Occurring within the dynamics or energetic exchange of a relationship. Indicators that a signal may be in the relationship channel include: the person may be talking as if it were observed by or coming from another person. Another common relationship arising is when someone tries to bring up an issue directly with you.
- World : perceiving information as happening in or noticed by the world at large. You can notice the world channel when a person brings in worldly events or systems. Also when they engage processes around wanting to come forward into the public and have an impact, for example.
* For more on channels, explore Margaret McNeal’s Amazing Glossary of Processwork Terms. And for a more in-depth discussion, see her thesis Process Work and the Living Unconscious: Embodied Praxis for Depth Psychology
Once you identify the channel, you can utilize a Blank Access cue that speaks directly to the channel. Here are some examples of Blank Access interventions:
- Verbal Channel: “Yes, that!” “Something about that…” “Say more.” “Wow.” (These are commonly used in therapy).
- Auditory Channel “Listen to that.” “Oh that sound that you are making” “I hear you.” “More of that” “yes.”
- Visual Channel “Really look.” “Let yourself see more.” “Ahh! You are seeing something important.” “Pause. Breathe. Let it show itself to you.”
- Movement Channel : “Let that (Insert body part/ area) move.” “Follow your body.” “Follow yourself” “Go with it.” Yes, more!” “Complete the movement” “Go to the farthest edges of that” “Keep going” “Take it all the way.”
- Proprioceptive Channel: “Really feel that,” “Wow, you’re feeling.” “That touched you.” “Be with that feeling.” “whew… yeah, that feeling.” “Really notice this.” “Focus in on this feeling.”
The intention of these Blank Access statements is to create a space for the signal to emerge more fully into awareness. It is important not to get caught up in “fixing” or trying to make sense of the signal, but rather to support the client in moving towards greater embodied awareness of themselves in that moment. Once the signal is identified in its proper channel and amplified using Blank Access, you can continue to unfold the experience by expanding it into other channels of experience.
For example, take a proprioceptive experience into a movement, add a sound to the movement and see if a visual channel element spontaneously emerges. Once you give the cue to enter an additional channel, you can continue to use Blank Access to amplify within that channel of experience. Often the energy will naturally unfold itself through the channels on its own!
In this way, Blank Access creates a safe container for others to explore their own inner experience. It is a powerful way to build trust and rapport, and it can help people to access
With Blank Access, we fill in the blanks with our own sounds, images, and fantasies. All blank-accessing methods are soothing and creative because they help bring up what is inside by giving it space and time.
Resources for Further Reading:
– Glossary of Processwork Terms by Margaret McNeal
– The Dreambody Tool Kit by Joseph Goodbread
– The Hidden Dance by Amy Mindell
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