Core Curriculum Training

A Three Year, In-Depth Training Process

Personal Growth, Supervised practice. 


Learn how to use deep imagery in your practice or for personal use. A highly enriching 3-year training in process-oriented, accessible, interactive deep imagery. 


Chakra Animals ~ Dream Guides ~ 4 Ways of Knowing ~ Relationship work ~ Polarities ~ Emotions ~ Life process and changes ~ Trauma ~ illness ~ Wholeness ~ Deep Inner Wisdom


Training and Certification in the Personal Totem Pole Process

A three year, depth process; a life-changing experience; integrate with your profession or use for your own development.



In order to explore what the 3 year Core Curriculum Training in the Personal Totem Pole Process involves, one must first understand what we mean by Deep Imagery.
Deep Imagery/Personal Totem Pole Process (PTPP) is not the  type of imagery work often referred to as “visualization” whereby a guide is expected to lead the person undertaking the imagery work, down a fairly set path, with a prescribed goal in mind. That is, it is not the type  of visualization or imagery work that involves instructing the person to see or do specific things. e.g. “see yourself walking along a path in the woods” or “walk to the top of the mountain and see an old man sitting there” or even “see your blood cells fighting the infection.”

A Deep Imagery or PTPP® journey involves an open ended engagement  with the deeper levels of the imagination, where the  imagination itself is active. It allows an individual explore aspects of their consciousness through building a relationship with their own deep imagination. Because the activity of imagining is in the moment, alive, the PTPP® does not involve learning preconceived ideas about either the path a journey needs to follow or its outcome.

The PTPP® teaches a person how to engage respectfully and communicate with the images that present themselves without relying on preconceived ideas of what that image might mean or signify. Instead, the journeyer is asked to greet, speak to and develop an honest relationship with the image, often an animal, that has presented itself. The work is about the present moment experience of the person undertaking the journey. The goal of PTPP® is ultimately to help the person regain the central positions of aliveness, wholeness and balance in themselves.


The trained Deep Imagery guide must first have the capability to draw the journeyer to these depths and secondly, be comfortable with the open-ended nature of the journey. That is, that the Deep Imagery guide does not try and steer the journey towards any specific outcome. The guide’s main task is to keep the person undertaking the journey in touch with their imagery. It is not to interpret or intervene but simply to facilitate, as deeply as possible, the journeyer’s interaction with their own imagery. 


In order to do this effectively, the training to become a Deep Imagery/PTPP guide is highly experiential and oriented towards the participants’ process. Training in the Personal Totem Pole process is based upon the understanding that the foundation for any therapist is his or her own inner growth. The trainee is not merely taught a number of techniques which can be applied from an intellectual perspective, but is expected to undertake his/her own inner growth with a seriousness of commitment which insures that their eventual ability with the Personal Totem Pole process emanates from personal experience rather than the application of an intellectually acquired formula.

Through participating as deeply as possible in the training process, a Deep Imagery guide grows to understand that engaging with deep imagery helps us gather all of who we are and as such moves us towards wholeness. By undertaking his or her own healing work, the trainee comes to know that within a journey, healing is possible. The openness to the possibility of healing and the trust that the animal guides one meets in the journeys know exactly if and how the healing process needs to occur, become fundamental attitudes in guiding.

The Core Curriculum in the Personal Totem Pole process is a three year commitment, consisting of the equivalent of twelve full days per year. Over the course of the three years, the trainee is guided on and also guides others through a series of journeys that allows him/her to experience the structure of the deep imagination and thus to become more skilled at guiding another person in a deep imagery journey. By undertaking their own work, and experiencing the healing and wholeness working with the deep imagination brings, the trainee guide gains an awareness of the processes and constructs of the deep imagination and how to work with it.

Furthermore, because the trainee guide both journeys and guides, he/she learns how to remain present, and not be entangled by their own injuries or preconceptions when guiding another person. By undertaking his/her own work actively during the training, the trainee guide becomes more aware of his/her own processes and the places they may tend to interfere or hinder the process of guiding.


The fundamental aim of the three year training is to learn how to skillfully guide an individual on a journey that allows them a deep interaction with their own imagery.

Training in the First Year provides the basic theory and procedures governing work with the chakra animals and a minimal amount of experience in its use.

The second year involves extensive experience in developing a relationship with knowing through intuition and the four modes of knowing: thinking feeling, sensing and imagery.

The third year is spent in developing skills in working with two people simultaneously, firstly with their chakra animals and then with their animals of the four modes of knowing, in order to allow them explore their relationship at many levels.


The fundamental orientation of this first year of training is to bring a student to the place of being able to guide another person one-on-one, not through imitating someone else and not through having learned an intellectual formula, but through the process of having undertaken their own growth work in relationship with the animals in a profound and serious way.

Respect for the animals and for the individual being guided are essential precepts. The manner in which this is accomplished is based on non-intrusion on the part of the guide and on knowing how to recognize when they have been snagged by the journeyer’s process and what to do on such occasions.

The guide is essentially a sherpa, who must know the trails and the weather conditions and is available to the journeyer, but does not confuse the person’s journey with their own.

The first year of the training program consists of

  • introduction to the seed imagery,
  • working with a single animal,
  • several days of experience working with polarity animals
  • work with all seven chakra animals including the council of animals, the healing circle.

Chakra animal journeys
Deep imagery is the medium used to encounter an animal in each chakra. In first year, you will have the time to meet and work with the 7 chakra animals of your personal totempole. When all the chakra animals have been met and journeyed with, they are brought into a council in which they work toward each others growth and health. In doing so they typically raise issues which the person has not previously adequately faced. The person is now supported in doing so by the animal guides themselves. The animals grow and become more supportive of each other and the individual feels a growing harmony and centredness in his or her own life.

The inner support of the chakra animals comes to be deeply appreciated and richly felt. The work is deeply healing and transformative as the animals know how to guide us with precision through the sequence of experiences that lead back to our own original wholeness.

Polarity journeys
We learn very early to think in polarities and to split our perception into two poles: good – bad, light – shadow, male – female, etc. These inner polarities are in a state of tension that attempts to move towards resolution. If you like, this is Jung’s Transcendental function. Deep Imagery moves towards the resolution of opposites with ease and grace. In a polarity journey we call an animal for each pole of the opposition. Through meeting the animal (or other guide), we get to explore how the polarity originated in our lives. The animal shows us what we need to see and what it needs from us. Eventually we may ask the animals of both poles if they are ready to meet each other. These encounters are often healing and, if the animals desire, can lead to a final merging of the two of them. A new being can be born out of that merging, a being that comes directly out of the aliveness in us.

As in all deep imagery journeys the core lies in the respectful communication with the animals. Through them, it becomes clear how far the integration of the two polarities is possible, in that moment. Polarity journeys are an important step on the way to our aliveness, and often they bring us back to lost aspects of our selves.


Whereas the first year of training was focused on an individual looking within and developing a relationship with those inner dimensions that essentially guide one through the experiences necessary for healing, growing, and coming into wholeness, the second year of training involves a broadening of possibilities.

It will includes journeying with

  • the animals of the senses (eyes, ears, taste, smell, and touch),
  • work with dreams in non-intrusive ways
  • working with the Animals of the Four Windows,
  • the animals of the four memories and the animal of intuition.

The second year also involves using deep imagery as a way of looking outward, and arriving at the place of natural storytelling, the quality that most differentiates us from the other animals. It also explores chakra reading, combined with storytelling and journeying, in a way that recognizes how part of what we see is always filtered through our own lenses. In a therapeutic setting, this skill can be used to assist a client who has difficulty in accessing their own imagery.

The Four Windows of knowing: thinking, sensing, feeling and imagery.
Through these windows we experience the world and get in contact with it. In the journeys we meet – just as with the chakra animals – an animal of each window to finally bring them all into a council. Here it is important to know: Do the animals know each other? If yes, do they like each other? Is one of them dominating the others? Which one wants to integrate? Is one of them an outsider? In exploring all of these aspects we come to a deeper understanding of why some of our ways of perceiving the world are less developed than others. We will experience how the four windows develop a new cooperation out of their own inner wisdom and will thus allow us to gain a holistic experience of the world.

Journeys into dreams
Working with Dreams is part of Second year but because you may experience intense dreams during a training group, a dream journey may also happen in First year.

Dreams are messages that come out of the inner core of our aliveness. It is possible to journey into a dream using deep imagery. The dream itself is held in respect and not “used” or manipulated through interpretation of our thinking. In such a journey you call a dream guideand ask what he/she can show you about your dream. Journeys into dreams can be very free: some people are guided chronologically through the entire dream while others only meet a certain part of it. In any case the message becomes clear and present. Dream journeys are a powerful means to explore our inner depths.


The third year is devoted to relationship work: working with the animal of relationship, working with people’s projections on one another, and working with people in pairs, inviting their corresponding chakra animals and their animals of the four windows to meet.

In the meeting of these animals, fundamental relationship patterns become visible. In the course of a journey you can explore with the help of the animals where these patterns come from. Often it becomes clear that we meet well with another person in only some of the chakras and in other chakras there is need for healing and growth. These journeys can be done either with the chakra animals or with the animals of the four windows of knowing.

Relationship journeys
In this setting two individuals lying next to each other are guided by a third person. The two people journey simultaneously to their chakras and invite the animals of the other person to join them in each corresponding chakra. As the journeys unfold, the dynamics of the particular relationship becomes clear and a deeper understanding of how these too people interact is reached by the participants in the relationship. This experience gives the Third year trainee a solid ground for working with others in a new, creative way.

Journey to the Absent Other
Sometimes we have a desire for a healing relationship journey with another person who is not physically present. This is a Journey to the Absent other. We start by asking,  in our imagery,  for permission to journey with the energy of the other person. Only if we get a clear yes as an answer we can start our journey. We call an animal either of the relationship or of one of our chakras e.g. our heart animal. We ask it to bring us to the corresponding animal of the other person in order that the two animals can meet each other. The encounter can show us what is happening on a deeper level of our relationship and helps transform and heal any difficulties.


At the end of a training, the Deep Imagery guide or practitioner will have a solid and highly experiential understanding of the processes of the deep imagination. They will have acquired skills in guiding others in many types of journeys and will be comfortable with both the depths of the experiential process and the often times emotional content of the work. Having undertaken their own deep process work, they will also be comfortable with their own process and be aware of how to deal with any of their own issues that arise while guiding.

People coming for a journey often present with specific issues and problems that they hope to explore. While these concerns can be the doorway to deeper work they are also valid ends in themselves. During the training then, a guide is exposed to a number of journey “types” and so learns how to work with Deep Imagery to explore a variety of issues in a therapeutic manner. These include:

  • Polarities
  • Dreams
  • emotional issues (including depression, grief)
  • physical problems and symptoms (pain, headaches, physical inbalances)
  • Illness
  • Life process and changes
  • Relationships: how to guide 2 people at once, useful for Couple Counseling and conflict resolution


Interested? Email the IIVR office to find out when a new training is scheduled.

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