Transform Your Life, Learn Focusing, Welcome the Way We Grow
By Barbara Dickinson
If you would like to listen to the audio version of this blog post, you can find it on YouTube.
We are getting ready for our first gathering (online) to explore interaction on March 17, 2024! See the Online Course Schedule at LearnFocusing.org.
If you are familiar with Focusing -- have had 5 or more Focusing exchanges -- you can skip this section and go directly to the “Exploring Interaction with Focusing” Section.
Focusing was originally designed for individual use. It forms the foundation of a number of different practices, crafted by master teachers over the decades since Dr Eugene T. Gendlin, in collaboration with Dr. Carl Rogers, first developed their concept of the “felt sense”.
The felt sense is more than a feeling, and it is more than a sensation. It is the something more that comes to our attention when we notice how our body is responding to just about anything.
One of our favorite Focusing teachers, Bebe Simon, refers to this as discovering your inner wisdom. The felt sense can lead us to a far greater and deeper understanding of ourselves, our living, our environment, and our interactions.
We encourage you to read, learn, and experience more about felt sensing if you are not already familiar. The easiest way to do that is to explore our LearnFocusing.org website, as there are many resources on offer. You can read a book, you can take a class, you can meet other Focusers in online “Changes” meetings, which always have space for beginners.
Dr. Eugene T. Gendlin outlines six steps that form the basis of a Focusing exchange. That is one of the really cool things about Focusing. It was designed to be done in partnership with another person. It is all about you, but it is also all about being heard by another compassionate non-judgmental listener, and offering the same to them in return.
Can you imagine a world where everybody practices that?
Here in this blog post, we are giving you highlights. If you want to take a deeper dive into Focusing, look at our course offerings and explore our LearnFocusing.org website. Focusing is a life enhancing, supportive, healing process, nurtured world-wide by a community of dedicated teachers and practitioners.
These are the six steps as outlined by Dr. Gendlin:
- Clearing A Space
- Getting a Felt Sense
- Finding a Handle
- Resonating the Handle
- Asking about what might be there
- Receiving what comes
These terms may not make much sense if you are not yet familiar with Focusing, but have no fear! We will include an introduction to Focusing in our upcoming meetings for Exploring Interaction. Newcomers are always welcome here!
Exploring Interaction with Focusing
Our explorations of interaction with Focusing are based on the work of two PhD psychologists, Drs. Janet Klein and Mary McGuire. They used Focusing as the basis of a study of how relationships can be strengthened, and how difficulties can be resolved between two people. They called the practice that developed out of this work “Interactive Focusing”.
What is the difference between traditional or classical Focusing and Interactive Focusing? There are 4 key differences.
First, in traditional Focusing, the Focuser does not have to say anything! In Interactive Focusing, the Focuser becomes a Storyteller, providing their partner, the “Listener”, with enough context -- their story -- so that the Listener can take in how it is for the Focuser in the situation. The Focuser/Storyteller spends about half their time telling their story, and half their time sensing into -- felt sensing -- how it is inside their being, holding that story and the bodily responses to it. Here, most of the steps of traditional Focusing can be used.
Second, in traditional Focusing, the Listener does not offer anything from their own bodily experience. In Interactive Focusing, the Listener offers a “Double Empathic Moment” to the Focuser/Storyteller. A Double Empathic Moment has 3 parts: the Listener bringing inside how it is for the Focuser, the Listener forming a felt sense of all that, and the Listener offering a symbolic expression of their felt sense of how it is for the Focuser.
Third, in the moment when the Focuser and Listener change roles, the now 2nd Focuser takes a moment for the “Interactive Response”, in which the 2nd Focuser finds what is touched inside by the 1st Focuser’s session. For many, this is a significant digression from traditional Focusing, where neither partner remarks on the other partner’s material. In Interactive Focusing, the Interactive Response is done with compassion, respect, trust, and responsibility in order to protect the precious content of the Focuser.
The second Focuser proceeds exactly as the first, coming to a resting place, and taking in the Double Empathic Moment offered by their Listener.
Fourth, at the end of both sessions -- first Focuser and second Focuser -- the closing “Relationship Check” is mutually offered. This is a beautiful and meaningful exchange to ground both partners in their appreciation of each other. Each partner offers how they are now, compared to how they were at the beginning of the exchange, and how they are in relation to their partner, with special emphasis on what they admire or appreciate.
For another time, there are some wonderful comments and questions that we have heard about why this “relationship check” is only offered at the end of an Interactive Focusing session. Why not at the beginning? And why not bring this form into everyday interaction?
Can you imagine a world where every interaction starts with a moment of appreciating each other?
We hope these highlights of our explorations of interaction intrigue you and inspire you to join us in the coming months, both here on the website where we have a variety of resources, and in the virtual world of our online Changes Meetings for Exploring Interaction. Use our Online Course Schedule to register.
In the coming months, we will take a more in-depth look at all of the components of exploring interaction:
- Felt Sensing
- Focuser as Storyteller
- Listening in a Focusing Way (Empathic Listening)
- Focuser as Teacher
- The Double Empathic Moment
- Symbolization for a partner
- Resonating with a symbol
- Interactive Response
- Relationship Check
- Double “Wing” of Interactive Focusing
Until next time!
- You can find our Monthly Changes Meeting schedule here.
- Read more about exploring interaction here.
- Resources about Interactive Focusing are found here.
At this time, the author wishes to pause for a moment of silence. Our dear friend Bebe Simon passed away on January 20, 2024, at her home in Oak Park, IL, USA. She will forever be remembered.
Sandy Jahmi Burg
This site does not provide medical or any other health care or fitness advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The site and its services are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment.