My work is mainly focus-oriented, within the person-centred tradition. I am passionate about this way of working, and find that it beautifully complements other the other ways in which we process our experience. Most of us generally work through things in our heads. Sometimes we can get stuck there, with seemingly intractable problems, behaviours and feelings going round and round in our thoughts without resolution. The more we struggle to think them through and solve them, the more tangled they can become. Focusing steps out of this loop. It helps us home in on the way in which the body and our inner senses hold the things that matter to us emotionally and psychologically. It helps us access these in a safe and gentle way. Focusing touches into the unconscious, the deeply felt and known things within, the things that cannot be put into words, the intuitive, the spiritual, the emotional: whatever makes up our internal, unworded life; and it does so quietly and without pressure.
Focusing is simple, elegant and gentle. Focusing does not try to ‘fix’ difficult thoughts and feelings but comes to a compassionate positive awareness of them, and through this, allows them to relax and transform.
How did Focusing begin?
Eugene Gendlin (1926 – 2017) worked with the great Carl Rogers and was particularly interested in trying to understand why some counselling clients seemed to be able to respond more successfully to counselling than others. He realised that these clients seemed able to focus inwardly on a ‘sense’ of something, rather than merely trying to understand cognitively or verbally what was going on for them. In these moments of inward searching and awareness, often tentative and uncertain, clients were able to get an almost bodily sense – a ‘felt sense’, as Gendlin termed it – of something needing their attention. Holding this focus on a particular felt-sense for a short while helped it to become clearer and shift, moving the client’s experience forward in new and often powerfully positive ways. Gendlin subsequently developed ways of teaching this ‘focusing’ on a ‘felt-sense’ so that anyone could do it and learn better to understand themselves and to live more from their own authentic inner experiencing.
So why do I love Focus-oriented therapy?
Because it enables us to reach a deep awareness that is not just mind, or emotion, or bodily feeling, or spiritual awareness, but something that can hold, touch and be all of these.
Because it harnesses all of the aspects of self-in-awareness to resolve issues internally – the organism has its own wisdom, and Focusing enables it to be fully engaged.
Because it can be accessed by anyone, from a child to a 90-year old.
Because it is not difficult to learn and does not require special abilities or knowledge.
Because it is the individual, not the counsellor, who has the awareness: they alone can experience, know and come to a clearer understanding of what is moving them. That alone is a powerful thing. And of course, the client does all the work!
If you are interested in finding out more, go to https://focusingresources.com (loads of good stuff on the ‘Free Stuff’ tab)
or: www.focusing.org/newcomers.htm (The International Focusing Institute)