Frequently Asked Questions

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. More here.

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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 I specialize in include:

  • transforming inner critics
  • making clear decisions
  • knowing what you really feel and want
  • getting in touch with your life purpose

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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 to go to the Focusing.org website.

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What is the philosophy or guiding principle behind Focusing?

The 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.

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How would I start learning Focusing?

Ordinarily you would start 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. I am not currently offering this workshop, but you can find a schedule of Level One offered by Focusing Resources on their website www.focusingresources.com.

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What happens in an individual Focusing session?

I will be guiding through the process with gentle suggestions. You can find a fuller description here. 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.

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I’m hesitant to tell someone I’ve never met my deepest secrets on the phone.

Of course! 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.

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Do phone sessions really work as well as in person sessions?

I was doubtful about that, too, at first... but my experience has been that there seems to be no difference in the benefits that people receive, whether on the phone or in person.

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One Focusing session, or many?

That’s up to you. One session can bring real change. 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. However, many people continue to have sessions to support their Focusing process, perhaps to work on some particular areas of life that need extra time and care. The number of sessions, the frequency, and when you start and stop are completely up to you. Since a series of sessions can be very beneficial, I offer discounted fees for a series.

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Is this like seeing a therapist?

We are happy that more and more therapists are incorporating Focusing in their sessions with clients.

However, 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:

  • You will not be asked to disclose details or history about the issues you’re working on
  • You will not be diagnosed, analyzed, or given advice about your life situations
  • You are the sole decider of whether and when to have more sessions, and whether and when to stop having sessions
  • The emphasis is on your relationship with yourself

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Is this like working with a life coach?

Again, we’re pleased that more and more life coaches are incorporating Focusing in their work with clients.

However, you’ll probably find that Focusing sessions are different from life coaching in most of the following ways:

  • You will not be asked questions.
  • Your 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 by you)
  • There is no homework or assigned work between sessions

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