Focusing is a particular way of paying attention to those aspects of our "knowing" which aren't readily accessed by the thinking mind. It is a way of keeping gentle company with oneself. We begin by noticing and welcoming whatever we find in our inner landscape; then we get a "felt sense" of all that's there; and, most importantly, we bring an attitude of curiosity and welcome, even to our darker and most self-critical inner places. Scientists tell us that we hold large reservoirs of information, creativity, problem-solving abilities and emotional wisdom in our unconscious. But how do we access that? We begin with our bodies! When we pay attention to the whole bodily felt sense of a situation, what at first seemed unclear and vague can begin to change and open up. Something new can be revealed by simply staying with what is already there as a feeling, an image, a thought, or a bodily sensation. Focusing is different from "getting in touch with feelings". Focusing helps us pay attention to our feelings without judgment, just as they are, without pushing them away, trying to alter or rationalize them, and without being overwhelmed by, or distanced from, them.
Where did Focusing come from?
Focusing was first observed and described by Dr. Eugene Gendlin in the 1960s. Gendlin was then teaching at the University of Chicago, and along with Dr. Carl Rogers, was conducting research into the question, "Why is psychotherapy successful for some people, while others don't seem to change?" He and his colleagues studied hundreds of hours of therapy sessions and made an intriguing discovery. What Gendlin noticed was that the method of therapy, the practitioner, and the content all had very little correlation to a successful outcome. What did make a difference, he noticed, was what the client did. When the client slowed down, paid attention inside, stayed with his inner experience and asked his "gut" for information, change would invariably happen. Dr. Gendlin identified six basic steps which these successful clients seemed to follow intuitively. Dr. Gendlin further reasoned that these naturally occurring steps could be taught and made more conscious to others. He called this process "Focusing", and wrote his first book, Focusing, to describing his discoveries and philosophy in 1978.
Who uses Focusing?
Eugene Gendlin strongly felt that Focusing had significance far beyond the psychotherapeutic environment, and he has encouraged the teaching and use of Focusing in arenas as diverse as the arts, body work, corporate boardrooms, peace work, health care, trauma work, education, work with children, mindfulness and spiritual practice, and more. Gendlin's work has been adopted, expanded and enriched by countless Focusing professionals around the world over the last 30 years and today Focusing is taught, used and practiced, in richly diverse ways, in every corner of the Earth.
What is the idea behind Focusing?
Focusing is based on a radical notion of how people change. Gendlin found that when we attempt to act on (fix, get rid of, understand, analyze, ignore or change) our feelings, they tend to stay the same or go into hiding, and becoming less accessible to us. Gendlin saw feelings as process, with each moment, and each emotion, implying, or moving forward into the next. He further observed that when we bring awareness to the process itself, when we simply keep company with our feelings as they are, without effort or judgment, they will transform. The simple act of paying attention to our feelings, without judgment, brings fresh information and a lasting shift.
How can Focusing help me?
Focusing can help if you want to:
be more compassionate with yourself and others
share more of your knowledge, skills and creativity
feel calm and centered in the midst of difficult moments
make wiser, more centered decisions
have clearer boundaries and deeper connections
tame your Inner Critic
live with more self-awareness
hear, and trust, your own inner wisdom
What is an Individual Guiding session like?
Individual Guiding sessions can be done in person, or on the phone or through telehealth. You may want to work on a specific issue in your life, or you may want to use this time to get to know yourself in a new way. You don't need to know Focusing in an individual guided session; I take you gently through the process, offering skilled and attentive listening, careful reflection, guidance, and non-judgmental support. I generally allow an hour and a half for individual sessions, including time for questions or brief discussion.
What Is Focusing-Oriented Counseling Like?
Perhaps you feel uncomfortable disclosing you deepest worries and fears? Most of us feel that way, and it is absolutely understandable. What you talk about in a Focusing session is held in absolute confidence. In fact, because of the way Focusing works, you can choose exactly how much or how little detail you share. In Focusing, we follow the process, paying attention inside. You are always in charge of the issue and the content and you get to say what feels right for you.
Focusing Oriented Counseling can offer support for people who want to explore their stories more extensively, deepen their awareness of their own patterns and inner blocks, and create more support for themselves. I offer attentive listening, reflection of the client's process, and gentle suggestions to point toward what may seem, as yet, vague or unclear for the client. Weaving the Focusing process into a more narrative counseling relationship helps the client access, and stay with, bodily held "information". Other body-oriented modalities are sometimes incorporated, as well. Counseling sessions are generally an hour in length, and we usually meet weekly.
What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn't make it
any worse. Not being open about it doesn't make it go away.
And because it's true, it is what is there to be interacted
with. Anything untrue isn't there to be lived. People can
stand what is true, for they are already enduring it.