FOCUSING-ORIENTED THERAPY, OR FOCUSING, AS ITS COMMONLY CALLED, IS A "BODY-ORIENTED PROCESS OF SELF-AWARENESS AND EMOTIONAL HEALING, IN WHICH WE LEARN TO BECOME AWARE OF THE SUBTLE LEVEL OF KNOWING THAT SPEAKS TO US THROUGH THE BODY" (The International Focusing Institute, 2004).
Focusing comes from the pioneering work of philosopher and psychologist Eugene Gendlin at the University of Chicago, where he collaborated with Carl Rogers. Gendlin and colleagues studied the reasons why some clients improved in therapy and others didn’t. What he found was surprising. Progress was not determined by the therapist’s technique, orientation, or even the issue being discussed. The difference was what the client was naturally doing internally. The clients who regularly checked in with themselves and their bodily felt sense were more successful.
Gendlin then proceeded to develop a philosophy, and more specifically a sequence of steps, a way of listening, that anyone could use to make that same successful exploration.
In Focusing, the therapist facilitates this checking-in process, and without judgment or evaluation, helps the client listen in to their own intricate bodily sensed experience. The client ultimately makes contact with the felt sense, and new meanings can emerge.
When we attempt to solve our problems with what we already know, think, and feel, then we may find that we are just going in circles. But from the felt sense level of awareness, something new can emerge, and real change can occur. It transcends what is known on the levels of behaviour, emotion, and cognition, and brings meaning from a new level which has all these functioning implicitly in one whole bodily sense.
Focusing can easily be combined with art, movement, dreamwork, and just good old talk therapy.
You do not need to be familiar with body-centred work, or even comfortable with it, to find benefit in this process. It and your therapist will meet you exactly where you are.
I am grateful to live on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation)
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