Psychotherapy is a healing art. The goal of therapy in all its forms is to help you develop greater awareness and capacity to experience happiness and health in life. You may be seeking to solve a problem, to feel less distress, to sort out a complicated situation or to change destructive behaviors. You come to therapy to find new solutions and new perspectives. Focusing–oriented psychotherapy (FOT) has these same aims. What is different with FOT is that the process of Focusing is woven into psychotherapy sessions.
Focusing enriches and deepens the therapy and can be easily integrated with many therapeutic approaches.
Focusing is a way of paying gentle and nonjudgmental attention to how we carry our issues or life situations in our body. We slow down from our typical hectic pace and familiar story lines, and we take time to listen to what is within. It is an attuning process. A Focusing-oriented therapist might suggest something like…. “ Just take a moment to notice where you feel that in your body”…. or he/she might ask a question like …. “What is it like inside when you hear that?”
Or for example, a client who is experiencing exhaustion might say, “I am so tired”…. then pause to check inside….”No, actually, it’s not just tired…. I’m completely depleted… Yes that’s it…like a deflated ball…”
In the process of Focusing, we can experience a physical change – a “ felt shift” – in our body. It may be a release of stress, an “Aha!” or a resonance of “Yes, that’s it”. When we pay attention within, what emerges is often a fresh, new knowing and a more intricate, more richly elaborated and authentic understanding than what we have known before.
First, Focusing deepens the therapy because people are talking FROM Their feelings and felt senses, not ABOUT them. Secondly, it empowers people to know they have the answers within themselves and are not dependent on anyone, including their therapist, to tell them what is a right next step in their lives. Focusing allows each individual to realize his or her own path to self-awareness and healing. Thirdly, Focusing teaches us to relate to ourselves in a kind, respectful, accepting manner, instead of blaming and criticizing. And finally, Focusing feels good! Gendlin wisely points out that people can stand facing what is true within themselves because they are already carrying this knowing. In fact, it usually feels like a relief to say the truth of one’s experience.
Some people find Focusing to be a spiritual experience in the way it can open up a deeper, vaster dimension of their lives. For those not inclined towards the spiritual, what they find might be insight, psychological freedom and a release of physical tension.
Some people have trouble finding this inner process, and others already know it intuitively. But helping clients to turn inward to discover what is underneath their words or concerns is a very worthwhile therapeutic endeavor.
Focusing–oriented therapists have specific training in Focusing and are certified through the Focusing Institute. They listen in a fully present and non-judgmental way. The Focusing therapist’s ability to access his/her own felt senses helps them to help others to find their unique and creative ways of tapping into deeper levels of awareness, wisdom and potential.