What Is Focusing?

What we can think with our conscious mind is only a tiny fraction of what we know. Scientists tell us that over 90% of our intelligence, creativity, and energy are stored in our unconscious. But, to be at our best, we need ALL our intelligence, creativity, and energy!

How do we access more of our embodied wisdom?

Philosopher and psychotherapist Eugene Gendlin was interested in this very question. As part of his research Gendlin found

  • that when people paid attention to feelings that were (at first) unclear or fuzzy
  • and stayed with their direct experience
  • movement and growth took place.

Stuck places began to flow. Gendlin called this process Focusing because it brings our unconscious knowing into clearer focus.

I was waking up feeling angry at the world even though I have a rich and fulfilling life. After three sessions of Focusing with Sharry, I felt much more connected with my body and was back to being grateful for both the challenges and the gifts coming my way.

Sue H., Ashland, OR

The History of Focusing

At the University of Chicago in the early 1970s Eugene Gendlin, Ph. D., discovered and began to develop Focusing. His understanding developed from research regarding the question: “What makes some clients successful in therapy, while others fail to change?”

He found that successful clients were able to connect with something inside themselves that lives at the edge of the conscious mind. Gendlin called it “getting a felt sense”. From there he began to teach non-therapy clients this valuable skill. Focusing students are able to access important inner resources. In essence they learn to listen to themselves in a whole new way. Focusing is now taught in 31 countries. Countless people from San Francisco CEOs to Afghan villagers have benefited from learning Focusing.

Focusing Resources has an excellent website as does The Focusing Institute. Both sites offer history, access to research, and free articles. The Focusing Institute has put much of Eugene Gendlin’s writing on the web.

Ann Weiser Cornell, a Ph. D. linguist, has further expanded Gendlin’s work in what she calls Inner Relationship Focusing. Ann is my teacher. Through her methods, I’ve learned to guide others in Focusing.

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