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Focusing (Eugene Gendlin's approach)

by Brighton-based hypnotherapist Jason Evans

In the 1960s, Eugene Gendlin, a colleague of Carl Rogers at the University of Chicago, became interested in the question of why psychotherapy wasn't working better for people. What he discovered was very surprising.

In the many psychotherapy sessions Gendlin studied, it became clear that it didn't really matter what the therapist did, so much as the attitude of the client.

Gendlin found that clients who had successful outcomes were often feeling around for a vague physical feeling that opened up whatever issue they were trying to deal with. Gendlin called this the 'felt sense'.

Gendlin formulated this experience with the 'felt sense' into a process that can be learnt by just about anyone in his seminal book, simply called "Focusing".

What is Focusing

Focusing is a fascinating, gentle and effective technique that is often somewhat overlooked in the therapy world for various reasons. It does have a lot to recommend it and it is well worth reading up on. A good place to start is either Gendlin's seminal book, "Focusing", or you could find out more (including courses and where to find a qualified practitioner) at the British Focusing Association (

Put simply, Focusing is a process of turning your awareness inwards, finding a physical feeling in your body which encapsulates your whole situation.

By attaching a handle or label to this physical feeling, you can gain insights into your situation that can prove useful in making progress with whatever is bothering you.

The Big Problem with Focusing

Focusing is an amazing technique, that can be used very effectively alongside more traditional forms of psychotherapy or counselling. So why is it not more widely known?

Ann Weiser Cornell, a world authority on Focusing has detailed several reasons for the lack of awareness of Focusing in her book "The Radical Acceptance of Everything". If you are interested in Focusing this, along with her introductory book "The Power of Focusing" definitely reward careful study.

Therapy for Therapists?

One of the best reasons to recommend Focusing is that many of the people who learn Focusing are themselves therapists of various kinds. It can in all seriousness be claimed to be "a therapists' therapy".

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