What is Focusing?
- A tool for supporting self-compassion
- A self-help process
- A way of life
…………..all of these and much more.
Focusing was developed in the 1960s by Eugene Gendlin when he was researching why some people were able to sustain a more lasting change from psychotherapy than others. He found that those who made more sustained changes had a natural ability to check within themselves for an inner felt sense of a situation or difficulty, and to use that felt sense to intuitively find a way forward. Gendlin developed a process in order that those people who don’t have this natural ability, could be taught to develop it.
For me Focusing has been life-changing, which is why I decided to complete the training to teach other people this wonderful skill.
How Focusing can help
Focusing with a supportive teacher helps you be alongside thoughts or feelings, rather than be overwhelmed by them. You can recognise that the feelings are part of you – they’re not all of you. With practice, you can learn to build relationships with those inner parts of you, and the intense feelings will ease as those denied voices realise that, actually, they don’t need to shout so loud to be heard.
Focusing or counselling?
Focusing is not therapy, although it does, of course, have therapeutic benefits. If you come to me for Focusing sessions, you’ll be learning a self-help practice, which you can also do on your own. You don’t need to give me any history, unless you want to, as we will be dealing with your present-moment experience in sessions, even though this experience will most often be influenced by past events.
I suggest that, if you want to try Focusing, we plan in 3 sessions initially. For some people, this unfamiliar way of relating to themselves can be uncomfortable. Committing to a few sessions means that you give yourself a better chance of moving through this discomfort, where something in you might be tempted to shy away after the initial experience. Also, we’ll take some time during the first session, for some preparation before the guided exercise, and some feedback afterwards, whereas a greater proportion of the second and third sessions can be dedicated to the experience of you being with yourself.
Read about what happens in a Focusing session in this blog.
Focusing sessions cost the same as counselling sessions – information about the fees I charge is here.
What is Focusing most useful for?
Anxiety: Focusing can help you to turn a compassionate and curious attitude to what may be underlying your anxiety, and the intensity of the feelings will lessen and become easier to tolerate.
Trauma: Because of the Focusing principle of being alongside your experience – as an observer, or witness – rather than being in it, you can get a little bit of distance from your emotions. The experience of being able to be in relationship with your traumatised parts can be profoundly healing at a whole-body level.
Inner critic: The inner critic tends to develop as a protective device (based on some kind of childhood belief that if it works you hard enough you’ll be safe), and by your responding to it with compassion, it will learn over time that it doesn’t need to push you as hard.
Pre-therapy: I believe that developing your skills of listening to all parts of you, can be helpful as a precursor to counselling sessions – whether with me or another therapist.
Focusing for therapists: Some counsellors find it difficult, sometimes, to engage with their own personal therapy, because a sense of competition or fear of being judged by their therapist can hamper their ability to be honest during sessions. I don’t need to know what a particular feeling, memory etc, is connected to, in order to support your process, which means that Focusing may be experienced as a safer space than counselling at times.
You can read more about Focusing in my blog What is Focusing?, which includes a video clip where I talk you through a Focusing exercise.