Welcome to Creating Space for Lasting Change Courses! Join us here...

*to nurture trust within yourself and become your own best friend.

*to develop social and emotional skills that make it easier to be your authentic self in the world.

*to explore the essence of change and the healing capacity of our own body.

*to heal trauma and learn to support yourself and others in change processes.

*to rewire your autonomic responses toward safety, belonging and resilience.

*to experience yourself as living process, evolving toward a greater sense of wellbeing.

*to maintain a healthy brain in a world struggling to know what is real.

*to begin your journey toward Certification as a Focusing Professional with The International Focusing Institute.

Creating Space for Lasting Change is a 15-18 month journey divided into 4 courses.

Each course consists of 6-8 classes. Our most popular course format meets every 2-3 weeks for 2 hrs. This gives us time to fit training into our busy lives, provides a structure for us to continue practicing, helps us bond with the Focusers in our group and gives the subtleties of this process time to work. 

The path you choose may involve more time or repeating some courses. Our current neural wiring has had years of reinforcement. Some of us will experience more resistance to practicing.

This is where the structure of classes and the concept of a Self-Mentor are helpful. I will support you in finding your unique way forward. Similar to a Guided Focusing Session, in group classes we are also following your body. Ripe timing is an important aspect of change. Focusing process trusts the inherent life forward movement built into all of creation. This has it's own sense of timing and we learn to listen to and follow this. 

Class sizes are limited to 8-10 participants. Please register early if the dates/times work well for you. If these fees are difficult for you, I do offer options to pay over time and often have a low income spot available. Please reach out and contact me about your situation.

Into the Flow...

Part 1 is like training wheels.

With Parts 2-4, we get even better at riding any terrain that life presents us with. It’s often during Part 3 or 4 that we have practiced this way of showing up for ourselves enough that our body/brain decides Focusing is more than just another technique. We’ll experience appreciation and supportive reminders as if what was a dirt road, easy to drive by, is now your preferred way of being.

No matter what your level of Focusing skill is when you begin these trainings, the door is now open to a sense of more empowerment.  In ever-flowing layers, here we come to understand that we are always changing and evolving and Focusing is that essence from which we feel flow and thriving in our lives.  More often we consciously understand how to bring ourselves back to what feels open, alive and flowing anytime we do not feel that way either inside ourselves or with what is going on in the world around us.   

I have 3 areas I format my courses around. 

1. Our Relationship with Our Self. Living a Focusing way of life by incorporating the power of the pause and spatial awareness into your natural way of being. We become more attuned to our body signals and rewire our nervous system as we learn to respond to stressors in healthier ways. Self trust expands.

2. Our Relationship with Others. Inner Relationship Focusing increases our awareness to HOW we be with others. We unlearn more fear-based patterns of interacting and reap the benefits of a regular partnership practice. 

3. Our Relationship with Groups and the World Around Us. As we improve our spatial awareness with the world around us, we rewire fears related to the 'other'. This expands our capacity to feel safe in wider contexts. In Part 4, we explore other types of Focusing so that you feel comfortable engaging in the Focusing world beyond my courses.

It's all about relationship...

When we work with relationship, we work with brain structure. This basic skills course is designed for educators, coaches, bodyworkers, therapists, and anyone interested in improving their inner-outer relational skills and understanding how to enhance change by building healthier brain structure within themselves and others.

Our Relationship with Self is Primary

Opening our heart is complicated in today's world. Our emphasis here on exploring our own inner landscape and building neural connections, creates a sense of resilience. Staying connected to our own inner knowing as we go out into the world is priceless.

Our Relationship with Others Deepens

Partnership practice is an incredible gift. We unlearn our traditional ways of relating that are not helpful for connection. We learn to hold space for others without the need to fix, save or set them straight. We presume welcome and extend welcome. We learn simply to be present, as a human being. And that is enough.

Being Our Authentic Self in the World

Gendlin shows us that we are always interacting with the world around us. Often we wear different 'masks' with the goal of belonging in our workplace, home and community environments. As we become aware of what is going on within us that causes this, these 'masks' melt away. We can feel comfortable in unusual environments with all sorts of 'birds'!

Creating Space Testimonials

It's an honor to cross paths with each person who has joined these courses.

Bear Brandegee, Executive Coach, Pittsburgh PA

"Sandy is one of those teachers who will change your life. Someone you can point to and say, ‘yes, her influence gave me an entirely new perspective and skills that were transformational’. She’s so with you in the moment that you feel life moving forward in every class. Having taken both her part 1 and part 2 focusing, I have a new way of being in the world. In her virtual classes, I’ve met wonderfully talented and interesting people and I can’t wait to continue with parts 3 and 4.

I have recommended Sandy to many colleagues and friends both for her on-line classes as well as her extraordinary private sessions."

Jill McTavish, PhD, MSW, RSW

"I stumbled across Gendlin’s book Focusing in December 2021, not imagining the journey it would take me on. All I knew was that it moved something in my body. As a researcher, I was very logical and linear; however, something in my body connected to Gendlin’s advice to slow down and look within. Immediately I searched around for Focusing classes and signed up for a course with Sandy. I’m so glad I did. I didn’t realize that I had been “running over” my body’s felt sense of an issue for my whole life. Through the Focusing courses I have learned to pause and seek my whole being’s sense of an issue. In doing so I have been rewarded with wisdom, stability, and serenity. I’m no longer fighting against myself; all of myself is now brought into the ‘whole.’  

I’m so thankful to Sandy as a teacher. Attending her classes felt comforting, welcoming, settling, and expansive. Sandy patiently and skillfully helped us learn to turn towards all of ourselves. I felt safe to ask questions about the process and to share my experiences. I feel Sandy was the right teacher for me because of her ability to pause and look within. Not only did she teach the didactic content helpfully, in each class she demonstrated a different way of being, a way that included a welcoming space around all of herself and all of the students. ”

Pam Kuras, LCSW

“As a therapist, I strongly believe clinicians must continue to do their own growth work in order to best support clients. I first learned about Focusing when I mentioned to a colleague my intent to address some of my own past traumatic experiences. I am a skeptic by nature, but I was willing to follow her suggestion to try this relatively unknown life skill. Sandy’s welcoming style and gentle guidance created a safe space to explore. During Part 3, everything came together for me. With Focusing, I have made breakthroughs that decades of off-and-on therapy, paired with my own daily mindfulness practices, had merely “managed“. I am not exaggerating when I say that Focusing has been life-changing for me. Focusing is now an everyday part of my life, so I often share Focusing principles with clients and friends. I am so grateful that I found Sandy!” 


How Creating Space Courses Work


There are 4 parts to the Creating Space for Lasting Change journey. The first 3 parts consist of six 2 hour classes, the 4th part is longer, eight or nine 2 hours classes. I space the classes two weeks apart as I've found it's more likely that you'll find time to practice the exercise again outside of class with your partner. Plus, we want to be practicing these skills in our daily life, so you have more opportunities to develop these habits if we are together for a longer period.

You will receive a class roster, reading and partnership schedule at the beginning of class. I will send out an email one week before our class that covers the suggested reading preparation. In addition to the Inner Relationship Focusing we read from the two Student Manuals, I provide articles, poems and additional handouts that I design.

Class time is as experiential as possible. I review key points, offer demonstrations, answer questions, and lead whole group exercises. Breakout spaces are used for small group and paired exercises. You will be paired to practice a Focusing exercise with another participant each class session. There will also be an additional paired homework exercise between sessions that will take approximately 45 min.

Please plan to attend all sessions for the full time of the meeting. Missing one class is acceptable. I will provide an audio recording if you miss.

If you miss more than one class, we will sense into your situation together. It may be best to repeat this level or we find a way to give you extra practice. Each person's learning journey is unique. I do my best to support your process.

What does 'Creating Space' mean?


I say this a lot in classes. Space is a real thing. Space matters. How you set up your space, within, among and around you, is YOU, actively creating in this world. Many of us, much of our time, do not give space much attention. We alternate between taking it for granted as in “I want” or “I need” (and therefore it’s mine) to assumptions that ‘this’ space has no room for me. If we do this, we are following old patterns within us, or being bounced around by our environment, without awareness that space is something we control.

Space is our innate human super power.

Claiming a safe outer/inner space and defending whatever is needed now is both our responsibility and our innate super power. And this is my point. As we practice Presence as a state of being, as we begin rewiring within ourselves to create a world where everything belongs, we must rule our space both with kindness and clarity. Rule seems like a harsh word and I want it here on purpose because there is a firmness that comes from access to the bigger picture Presence gives us – the bigger picture being that this is a change from how human beings have used their brain. As Focusers, we greet everything, no matter how much of us judges ‘it’ as bad or unworthy, with kindness. We make each ‘it’, each ‘something’, space to feel safe.

This is our human super power.

No one can take this away from us.

We do it for ourselves and the other.

We create space.

It’s quite magical really.

Our body leads the way. With everything we greet, it shows us the kind of space it needs. For example, a physical inflammation first appears tight or painful. What does this tell us? It is asking for space, it is asking for fresh air as in breathing into the area. It is asking for active circulation, nutrients coming in and waste getting out. It is asking for empathy for how it came to be this way. It is asking for time and space to heal at it’s own pace.

Using our super power of creating whatever space is needed now often requires clarity with ‘the way things are’. For physical inflammations, we have previous conceptions that this part of our body should not have pain – these beliefs can put pressure on the pain to go away (giving it less space). These ideas can also distract us so that we do not give this part of our body any medical support it might need to heal. They very effectively extend the inflammation. This is easy to do if we use our brain from the usual patterns our culture has encouraged. Changing these patterns takes a kind of slowing down and a pause to sense in with curiosity.  Inflammation is our body asking for our attention. It hopes to achieve the simple acceptance and space accommodations from us that it needs to heal itself.

Showing up in ways that create space for that within, among and around us to feel safe is new.

Creating space is a constant adventure. I invite you to join me here.

Each situation may brings us a fresh sense of what is needed here. Our brain has opportunities to rewire in almost every moment we pay attention to space.

Space is a real thing.

Space matters.

How you set up your space, within, among and around you, is YOU, actively creating in this world.

More about Inner Relationship Focusing and how I teach it


Inner Relationship Focusing was developed by Ann Weiser Cornell and Barbara McGavin. It is a way to learn and practice Focusing that I find very approachable. It would work well in schools as there is an emphasis on language and simple kindness to ourselves and others. Click HERE for an article by Ann on the Origins of Inner Relationship Focusing.

I did my certification in Ann's program. This means I was trained to teach her method. I still do. I also have made it a point to explore other ways of learning Focusing, particularly Wholebody Focusing, TAE: Thinking at the Edge and Social Oriented Focusing. I have added aspects of these that work well with the people that tend to be attracted to my courses.

I have been a neuroscience geek for years and am familiar with a lot of the popular writers - Daniel Siegel and Stephen Porges for example. I find Iain McGilchrist's work particularly relevant to learning Focusing and have created handouts and exercises for all of my courses.

I will always continue exploring how other people teach Focusing and adapting what I do. This helps me immensely in my goal of meeting people where they are.

Integrating Neuroscience


Crossing Gendlin's Theories with Neuroscience

You are welcome to download this pdf, Crossing Gendlin’s Theories with Neuroscience I created for a workshop on Three Ways of Experiencing. And in Spanish: Explorando cómo las teorías de Gendlin se Cruzan con la conciencia de los hemisferios derecho e izquierdo del cerebro y nos guian en el proceso.

Keep in mind that each of our brains is incredibly unique and that this information is simply guidelines to explore for yourself. Neuroscience also tells us that our brain is more complex than the entire universe yet discovered. Let’s pause here and say that again. Our brain is more complex than the entire universe yet discovered. What we can access here is often limited by what we believe is possible. And beliefs change. 

Our brain is divided into two mostly separate parts. Our right hemisphere (RH) is where all of our sensory information feeds into. This is happening mostly subconsciously, most of the time. Thank goodness that it is! If we were aware of the endless communications that take place to keep our body humming away, we’d all be crazy! And yet, some of this information is useful if we train ourselves to ‘drop in’. Many of us are familiar with getting some type of body communication when we are stressed. People who feel they are empathic, intuitive, follow their ‘gut sense’ or are commonly sensitive to their environment would be hearing from their RH. People who feel like their emotions are somewhat ‘distant’ in general are not receiving that information (at least routinely) from their RH. Wiring is as unique as we are.

Right hemisphere represented by Hummah, an octopus



In Smartview Stories books, which integrate Focusing and neuroscience, our right hemisphere is represented by an octopus, Hummah. 




This is step 1. We can invite our body (RH) to give us ‘its broad perspective’ on any current situation. Our RH will tend to share its perspective as body sensations, emotions, images, short phrases or gestures. This can take some practice to interpret correctly and we practice this as Focusers by taking the understanding back to our body and checking with it. 

Next, whether or not we have any awareness of our RH communication, our body automatically moves over our corpus callosum (which connects the two hemispheres) to our left hemisphere (LH). Our LH stores everything we’ve already learned by labeling, forming categories and collecting this all in separate boxes. Everything that has been stored had a purpose relevant to that time. This memory storage typically happens during our sleep. Our LH also houses our language center, so typically our more wordy thoughts come from here. This information is vital for us to make sense of our current situation with what we already know. Important for us to understand is that the LH, because of its nature of storing only what is explicit or known, lives in the past or projects about the future. The information it offers us may not be true for the situation we are currently in.

Sleuthin represents our left hemisphere in Smartview Stories.



In Smartview Stories books, our left hemisphere is represented by this guy named Sleuthin. 


This is step 2. Our mind (LH) gives us ‘its perspective’ on any current situation. Our LH will tend to share its perspective with lengthy phrases and opinions. There is likely a feel of control and purpose here: “I know”, “it is”, “should”. There may be competing perspectives from several boxes and a stickiness to being right. 






This division is between two very necessary perspectives that every moment provide us with information that could potentially contribute toward our well-being and also potentially keep us in somewhat of a negative feedback loop. This is where we tend to come up with only solutions that have worked for us in the past. We may notice quite a variety of different ideas about how to proceed arise from within us, they are all something we used or considered before, useful information that was stored in our LH because of some previous experience. And we might feel ourselves pulled between the two hemispheres here, as with each suggestion, our body has an emotional response we may notice. Our doubter voice comes from our RH and we can often get stuck for long periods in a tug of war between an idea from our LH and something in our RH that doubts it.

This way of utilizing our brain where we bounce around feels to me like the general state of brain evolution that humanity lives at. It shows up on those neural imaging scans and there are approaches where it’s all about what parts of your brain you are utilizing, like maybe doing exercises so that you are visiting more parts of your brain. This is all just fine, however, you are still using your brain in the same way. At any one moment, you have access to and are thus limited by, whatever that neuron is wired to. In Focusing, we call this state being “merged”.

In practicing our Focusing skills by inviting Felt Senses and staying with them from a state of being that models Radical Acceptance, we are using our brain in a very different way than “merged”. We intentionally hold space within us for neurons to connect in ways that always lead toward a sense of thriving for us as an organism.

Ashamaya the owl represents being our own Self Mentor


In Smartview Stories books, coming back to our right hemisphere in this particular way of holding space is represented by an owl, Ashamaya. 







This is step 3. We intentionally pause and move ourselves toward Self-in-Presence or being our own Self Mentor.  Essentially, we bring ourselves back over to the RH in a way that holds all of the awareness we have from both our RH and our LH for this particular situation, this particular moment of time. Here we are not living merged with any part of our brain. We are creating a space to receive all of our bodies wisdom with a sense of honest curiosity, acceptance and appreciation. This is naturally the space from which new wisdom arises. 

There is a lot that could be said about this relational space. We study and practice being in this state of being as both Focuser and Companion in our partnerships. This is a continual unfolding that never ends. We may find ourselves with new insights about ourselves, our health, our jobs, our relationships, our daily patterns, or anything about our environment. It turns out this process has predictable steps and they apply not only to us, also to all that surrounds us.  Gene Gendlin, who first named “Focusing” skills, has documented this process in a variety of papers and especially in a book called A Process Model. There are thousands of people, identifying as Focusers, around the world practicing these steps and exploring their own particular ‘edges’ in development. The applications are endless. In fact, you'll find aspects of Focusing in all relational healing modalities. Gendlin's philosophy describes the essence of change in the universe or how this all adapts and evolves. 

Without self-awareness, we will repeat the past. All of us can relate to times of frustration when something that always worked for us before is simply not working in this situation right now. Until we pause and can move our perspective to that of the RH that has access to big pictures and curiosity toward trying something else, particularly something new, we will stay in the past and just have access to ideas that have worked before. We prevent ourselves from learning something new.

Understanding how to access Presence is our key in moving in the direction of true human freedom, where we can make new life-giving choices that work for the world we live in now. Ordinary people can learn these skills. The structure of Focusing classes provides us a partnership model that makes this easier. A key reason I am writing Smartview Stories is because I believe the imagery of our RH as Hummah, our LH as Sleuthin and our Mentor Self as Ashamaya is a valuable reminder of how to help ourselves experience neural plasticity.

Smartview Stories Inner Companions

Please contact me if you’d like to explore any of this more with experiential exercises.

Parts 1-3 Partnership Requirement


For Parts 1-3, we will have a partnership rotation schedule set up when the course begins. If you have concerns about partnering, please let me know before we begin or whenever you become aware that some aspect of partnering is challenging for you. Because we meet every other week, generally scheduling with a partner is not an issue. You both will likely have this same time available in the weeks between when we meet. Sometimes, someone is triggering you. Usually, this is a good opportunity to invite this as something to process for yourself. Othertimes, this won't resolve quickly and I will adjust the schedule to support you.

Essentially, reach out and we'll find a way forward. :-)

Part 4 Partnership Requirement


We do not have new exercises at this level and there is no partnership rotation schedule. Essentially, we are Focusing as we know how.

I ask that participants are Focusing weekly with a partner at least one month before class begins and throughout our time together. This is to ensure you have Focusing time to explore the many concepts we cover in class experientially. If you have a regular Focusing partner, you are welcome to Focus with them throughout this class. If not, I will suggest partners either from this class or our greater community.

To fulfill this, it may be that you have two partners that you meet with every other week.

Whichever way you do it, my goal is for you to incorporate Focusing into your life routine. If we have Focusing set up weekly, it's no big deal to skip one for instance, if someone is sick or on vacation. You know your schedule will resume as normal after this break.