Developed by psychotherapist Eugene Gendlin, Focusing is a therapeutic process by which an individual cultivates awareness of an internal self-knowledge that has not yet been articulated.
Gendlin called this knowledge a “felt sense.
” Different from an emotion, the “felt sense” is experienced bodily as an intuitive “something,” and can be anything from a painful moment from the past, a currently troubling situation, or a future idea or insight.
According to Gendlin, tuning into the “felt sense” helps the individual verbally clarify the significance of the “something,” bringing about greater understanding of how to resolve the issue.
Focusing was born out of Gendlin’s studies of what made for successful or unsuccessful psychotherapy.
After over a decade of research, he concluded that the outcome of the therapy depended far less on the therapist’s technique than it did on the patient’s attitude and internal awareness during the sessions.
This point is key to holistic counseling.
How is it used in my practice?
As with all the techniques in my practice, I use Focusing because it helps clients reach their own understanding of a problem, rather than passively being told.
Focusing is relatively simple and, as Gendlin intended, can be practiced at home once you are familiar with the technique.
To avoid confusion, I generally substitute the term “felt sense” with common expressions like “problem,” “issue,” or “feeling.”
The exercise begins with me asking you to close your eyes and concentrate on the sensations produced by the problem you wish to address.
We will then explore these sensations through questions.
For instance, if you are feeling angry, I may ask: Where in your body do you feel the anger.
What shape does the anger take?
What is it doing?
Does it have a color?
Giving the issue a physical form allows you to really feel and acknowledge what is bothering you, thereby diffusing the sensations’ negative energy.
Focusing can also help identify the true cause of your problem, particularly if I ask you to remember another time you experienced these same sensations.
Often suppressed thoughts will arise, leading back to an incident from childhood that still needs to be resolved.
In this way, Focusing is an excellent tool for uncovering personal truth and achieving lasting wellness.