The skills I teach are part of an established healing methodology called Inner Relationship Focusing. I just call it Focusing.
Focusing allows you to get past what has been keeping you stuck. With specific techniques, it uses the mind’s innate ability to heal. And it helps you to move forward in all areas of your life, not just your addiction.
Focusing starts with your felt and familiar experience of life stuckness (including addiction) and, in the moment it’s happening, helps you find a place of emotional calm and stability.
Most of us automatically push away or avoid our familiar difficult feelings. Focusing shows you how to listen to the feelings and let them speak to you. When you do this, something powerful happens. You start to connect deeply with your whole self. You experience a beautiful depth and intricacy of who you are, one that was hidden. New information comes. Stuck feelings starts to release and relax.
When you listen to yourself in this way, you gain clarity. And you’re able to move forward in a centered and grounded way.
Focusing is an innate and natural human ability discovered in the 1950’s by Professor Eugene Gendlin at the University of Chicago.
Dr. Gendlin was researching why some people do well in psychotherapy and others don’t. What he found was that those who improved in therapy had an unnamed and untaught skill of pausing and paying attention, in the present moment, to their own inner experience, especially as it related to the problem that brought them to therapy. For example, someone might sense how their stomach and head feels tense after an interaction with their boss. Or someone might notice racing thoughts when they’re triggered into acting out their addiction. With certain other techniques, paying attention at this level allows clients to make breakthroughs in their problems. Those clients who did not (or could not) pay attention in this way generally remained stuck. They either didn’t improve or improved very little.
Gendlin named this inner awareness the “felt sense” and developed teachable skills into the methodology he called Focusing.
In the early 70’s, Ann Weiser Cornell, a Ph.D student in linguistics at the University of Chicago, learned Focusing from Dr. Gendlin. She taught Focusing workshops with Dr. Gendlin for several years and then, in the 80’s, with her colleague Barbara McGavin developed what’s now called Inner Relationship Focusing.
Inner Relationship Focusing emphasizes cultivating a gentle, non-judgmental relationship with all parts of the self, especially the painful and problematic ones. It contains techniques that rebuild a warm and nurturing relationship with parts of ourselves that we judge, demean, push away, or otherwise find overwhelming or unacceptable.
When we are able to build a more loving relationship with these painful and hated parts of ourselves, we invariably find fresh insights, positive inner shifts, and healing.
I teach Inner Relationship Focusing, but mostly refer to it using the simpler term ‘Focusing.’
There are over 80 research studies demonstrating the effectiveness of Focusing. You can find a summary here.
Additionally, the creators of some well known therapies such as Somatic Experiencing and Emotion Focused Therapy openly acknowledge that their methodologies rely on Focusing as a foundation. The later, Emotion Focused Therapy, is backed by multiple randomized trials and has the highest success rate among all couples therapies.
Focusing is not a form of meditation. It is an engaged process of self-exploration and self-healing.
It does share elements of quietness, acceptance, and present moment awareness, especially body awareness, but it is more than these. Focusing guides us to cultivate a new kind of relationship with our thoughts and emotions. In doing so, stuck patterns shift. We gain surprising and meaningful information about ourselve. There’s a strong sense of inner resolution and moving forward.
The easiest and quickest way to know if Focusing is something that might help you is to do a session. You can read articles and books, but Focusing is an experiential process. Similar to riding a bike, you cannot know what’s like until you actually try it.
Alternatively, there are hundreds of Focusing teachers and guides. Many of them offer trial Focusing sessions. You can find these professionals here.
There are several ways to learn to Focusing. The two that I most strongly recommend are these:
Alternatively, I have other offerings where you can learn and practice Focusing:
You can read about all my offerings here.
In a Focusing session I simply guide you through the Focusing process.
Typically your eyes will be closed and you will be paying attention to your thoughts, feelings and body sensations as I offer gentle guidance and instruction. The most important thing is for you to get a sense of what Focusing feels like.
Afterward the session you’re welcome to ask follow-up questions and/or spend time integrating your experience and what you learned.
While many people consider Focusing therapeutic, and many therapists incorporate Focusing into their sessions, Focusing is not therapy (or counseling). It differs in several ways: