What is Focusing?
Focusing is a special way of paying attention to yourself, so
that you sense the whole way you are feeling about situations
or issues in your life. This is different from just having emotions
or just getting in touch with feelings. Focusing involves having
a different kind of relationship with emotions and feelings. It’s
as if you are becoming your own good listener. The result is greater
calm, wiser choices, and a deeper sense of connection to your
own life and being.
What do people use Focusing for?
Focusing has a very wide range of uses, from enhancing
your creativity to improving your thinking ability. Focusing can
enhance and deepen every part of your life. The uses of Focusing
that we specialize in include:
blocks to action
what you really feel and want
in touch with your life purpose
a sense of self worth
present to your life
Where did Focusing come from: who
developed it? Focusing was discovered when Professor
Eugene Gendlin of the University of Chicago researched the question:
“Why is psychotherapy helpful for some people, but not others?”
He and his colleagues studied tapes of hundreds of therapy sessions
and made a fascinating and important discovery: successful therapy
clients had a vague, hard-to-describe inner awareness, a bodily
felt sense about their problems. Paying attention to the felt
sense in specific ways proved to be a key component of successful
psychological change. Gendlin discovered how to teach this skill,
which he called Focusing. For more about Eugene Gendlin and his
Focusing Institute click
here. Inner Relationship Focusing is a further development
of Focusing created over many years of work by Ann Weiser Cornell
and Barbara McGavin. (For an article about Inner Relationship
Focusing, click here.)
What is the philosophy or guiding principle behind Focusing?
process is based on a radical philosophy of change: that there
is no need to do anything to what you are feeling in order to
experience transformation. Instead, when we understand that feelings
are in process, we realize that acknowledgement and Presence are
what is needed for natural change. Click here for an article about
How would I start learning Focusing?
starting with an individual session, which can be done in person
or on the phone. After that, many people go on to take the Level
One Focusing workshop, which can get you started immediately on
using Focusing in your life. Most of our other workshops have
the Level One workshop as a prerequisite.
What happens in an individual Focusing session?
have an individual Focusing session, you will be guided through
the Focusing process by a skilled and experienced Focusing teacher.
The most important purpose of the session is for you to actually
experience what Focusing feels like. You are also welcome to ask
questions about how you can apply Focusing after the session.
I’m hesitant to tell someone I’ve never met my deepest
secrets on the phone.
In a guided Focusing session, in person or on the phone, you will
not be asked to tell anything about your life issues. We concentrate
on the process itself, not the details of your life. If you want
to tell a little bit, to set the stage so to speak, you are welcome
to do so, and anything you say will be held as confidential. But
there is no requirement to tell anything.
Do phone sessions really work as well as in person sessions?
We were doubtful
about that, too, at first... and after doing one-to-one phone
sessions for more than 15 years, we can say that there seems to
be no difference in the benefits that people receive, whether
on the phone or in person.
One Focusing session, or many?
up to you. One session is typically enough to prepare you for
a Level One Focusing class, although in a few cases people may
need two or three sessions. If you would like to continue to have
sessions to support your Focusing process, perhaps to work on
some particular areas of life that need extra time and care, this
is something that people often do. The number of sessions, the
frequency, and when you start and stop are completely up to you.
What about classes on the phone?
a bit strange!
It does sound strange, but in practice it works
quite well. We’re very experienced in teaching classes by
phone, and we’ve developed a lot of methods to help you
feel comfortable and connected. Many people actually prefer phone
classes because you don’t have to travel, you can call from
the comfort of your home, and you can take notes or lie down without
way a phone class works is that you simply call a phone number
at the designated time, and then put in a code. No computer or
other special equipment is needed; you’re simply making
a phone call. You may want to get a hands-free headset (for example
at Radio Shack) so you’ll be comfortable being on the phone
for an hour or more. The time flies by!
Is having Focusing sessions like seeing a therapist?
We are happy
that more and more therapists are incorporating Focusing in their
sessions with clients. (Therapists: learn more about how to do
receiving guided sessions from a Focusing professional isn’t
the same as therapy. Here are some of the ways you might find
it different from many kinds of therapy:
will not be asked to disclose details or history about the issues
you’re working on
will not be diagnosed, analyzed, or given advice about your
are the sole decider of whether and when to have more sessions,
and whether and when to stop having sessions
emphasis is on your relationship with yourself
having Focusing sessions like working with a life coach?
Again, we’re pleased that more and more
life coaches are incorporating Focusing in their work with clients.
you’ll probably find that Focusing sessions are different
from life coaching in most of the following ways:
will not be asked questions.
Focusing guide will not help you set goals or remind you of
your goals. (If you want to use your sessions to set goals,
you are of course welcome to do so, but that would be initiated
is no homework or assigned work between sessions
Is Focusing a form of meditation or mindfulness?
Focusing can be done inwardly, sitting quietly, with eyes closed,
it is not a form of meditation. Focusing is an engaged process
of self-exploration that involves the deliberate inviting of felt
senses. Because Focusing is more than simple awareness of body
sensations, it is not the same as “mindfulness,” although
it shares elements of acceptance and being in the present moment.
Is Focusing a type of self-hypnosis?
is not self-hypnosis. Hypnosis involves suggestion, and in Focusing,
no type of suggestion is involved. Although people who are Focusing
may feel quite relaxed, they are not in a trance. The Focusing
process is one of listening to what comes in the body, rather
than suggesting or telling the body anything.