What Is The Focusing Process?
This isn’t to be confused with the normal focusing, as in the verb, “to focus” which means to pay particular or close attention to something. The form of Focusing we are talking about here is a psychotherapeutic process and was developed in the 1950s by psychotherapist, Eugene Gendlin. It is the technique of finding and extracting information from your own body and is often used in a number of therapy practices.
Typically, Focusing looks to address feelings of worthlessness, being overwhelmed and struggling by honing in on internal feelings which someone may not be able to address through words.
Gendlin researched and produced a number of studies which appeared in Journal Psychotherapy, through these he formulated a series of six steps which loosely form the “Focusing Process”. These instructions can assist in tapping into your inner self and finding answers through the way your body feels. The International Focusing Institute describes this step-by-step process as being “experienced from the inside, fluid and open.”
The six steps from the Focusing Manual are as follows:
Step 1: Clearing A Space
Clear your mind from all your thoughts and concerns. Push everything to one side to make space for a new feeling to manifest from your body and mind, a feeling that comes from deep inside you.
Step 2: Felt Sense
Ask yourself an open-ended question such as “how is my life going? What is the main focus for me right now?” Now, instead of answering with your brain’s analysis, wait silently for the feeling to come to your body, this is known as the “Felt Sense.”
What is Felt Sense? – Felt Sense is a term that describes the connection between the brain and body.
Step 3: Handle
Look for an image, word or phrase that captures this bodily feel created using – the Felt Sense.
Step 4: Resonating And Checking
Take the words or image you captured and hold them against the Felt Sense asking yourself if it feels right? Find new words or images to fit until you are satisfied.
Step 5: Asking
Ask yourself more open-ended questions such as “why does this make me feel this way? What is so hard about this?” And again, instead of answering, wait quietly and allow for the body feeling, the Felt Sense, to come to you.
Step 6: Receiving
At each new step, take a moment to sit with this new intuitive feeling. Acknowledge and appreciate your new found inner knowledge and insight. After this, start again from step 5 and ask yourself another open-ended question, then repeat step 2, 3 and 4 until you get a lightbulb or aha moment.
Gendlin notes in Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy: A Manual of the Experiential Method, to learn this technique may take a few days, perhaps eight 3-hour sessions.
Why You May Need To Practise Focusing Techniques
Focusing is used in various capacities, it can be practised alone as a self-help technique, or by a licensed therapist as part of a psychotherapy programme.
Focusing uses the concept that people possess within themselves the answers they are looking for. Essentially, whatever it is you are seeking, you can find by using your own body’s awareness and knowledge, which you can muster through your own mindfulness.
If you are feeling a particular way or have some unanswered questions, Focusing provides an inner-meditation-like, problem-solving process and self-reflection, helping you to answer your questions from your own inner awareness.
Please note – we do not recommend this to be replaced with or instead of prescribed therapy or diagnosis. Please see your local GP or mental health expert if you are concerned about anything.
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Gendlin, E. (2003). Focusing. London: Rider.
Gendlin, E. (1996). Focusing-oriented psychotherapy. London: The Guilford press.