Bob Hoffman, founder of the Hoffman Process, had an innate and highly gifted ability to listen to deeper truths and wisdoms. It became his mission to figure out how to have more love in the world, and in each person’s life, and heal the rifts we have in our beings as a result of not being unconditionally loved as children.
Bob understood that while we are growing up, we imitate our parents in order to win their love and attention. By copying their moods, attitudes, beliefs, spoken expressions and even body movements, fundamental aspects of our characters become formed. Love conquers all neuroses and, for Bob, the fundamental neurosis was to grow up feeling unlovable.
The Hoffman Process began its evolution from Bob’s office in Oakland, California, in 1967. He began by asking clients to write emotionally charged autobiographies of their lives from birth to puberty. Then he looked at the negative emotional traits of each of their birth parents and started to develop an intuitive understanding of the emotional history of the client’s parents. This he termed “Negative Love.” He could see that parents, when they were only children, had unwillingly adopted “negative traits” themselves, and were driven by their own emotional history. It was possible, therefore, to see them as guilty but not to be blamed. These deep understandings led to the experience of forgiveness and compassion for one’s parents. Bob stressed that “everyone is guilty, and no one is to blame” throughout his life.
Bob led his early clients through a series of (usually) 8 to 10 two-hour sessions. These involved a variety of techniques and cathartic exercises designed to help them heal their pain and reach a place of unconditional love. They learned tools to break the habit of negative love behaviors and were taught self-awareness exercises.
Bob coined the term “Quadrinity” to describe the whole self, which is comprised of four aspects: the Intellect, the Emotions, the Body, and the Spirit. Participants can realize true healing and wholeness by engaging all these aspects and helping them to work in harmony. A structure of Awareness, Expression, Compassion & Forgiveness, and New Behavior was born and to this day remains the foundation of all Hoffman Process teaching around the world. His book, No One Is to Blame, was first published in 1978 as an introduction to help people understand how to change self-destructive habits.
When John Bradshaw published his first book Bradshaw On: The Family as a self-help guide for those who had grown up in dysfunctional families, he highly recommended the Hoffman Process as a way to deal with the “original pain of childhood and get back in touch with the soul.” As this book became an international bestseller and Bradshaw became a popular speaker, Bob’s work also became more widely recognized.
Over a period of 20 years and with the help of a variety of therapists, educators and doctors, Bob slowly built the structure of the Process as we know it today. He received a great deal of support from Claudio Naranjo, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist who also introduced the enneagram to western culture.
Bob believed that providing a retreat setting would allow participants to deepen their insights and personal changes. In 1985, the first eight-day residential Hoffman Quadrinity Process (as it was then called) was held in Sonoma, California.
The years that followed saw the work of the Hoffman Process spread from the United States throughout the world, with Hoffman centers opening in Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Argentina, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. This, in turn, led to the formation of Hoffman Institute International (HII), which was created to regulate and monitor the standards, safety, and delivery of the Hoffman Process around the world.
Various books have been written about the Hoffman Process, including Journey Into Love, by Kani Comstock & Marisa Thame; and The Hoffman Process and You Can Change Your Life, written by Hoffman UK co-founder Tim Laurence. This latter book enables people to read more about the techniques and exercises used in the Process. The growth in popularity since then confirms that, increasingly, people are now prepared to do deep, intensive emotional work in a safe environment.
With Hoffman-affiliated centers in 10 countries, people from all walks of life have found that the residential, week-long Hoffman Process improves the quality of their lives, their relationships, and their careers. In the United States, the Process is offered at beautiful retreat sites on both the west and east coasts.
Though Bob Hoffman passed away in 1997, his enduring vision – to heal families, bring back love into our lives, and to heal the world – lives on. “My dream,” he said, “is that this work will eventually be recognized by scientific communities, that it will be recognized by educational leaders, and that it will be placed into educational programs.”
Over 100,000 people worldwide have now benefited from Bob’s vision and work. Many have said after the Process, “It’s the best gift you can give yourself.”
It’s also a gift that is shared among family, friends, and work colleagues as its effect spreads and lasts throughout the ensuing years.