What is a Double Empathic Moment?


Also known as the “Empathic Essence”, a Double Empathic Moment is the Listener’s process of taking in how it is for the Storyteller, holding that with the Listener’s bodysense, and then expressing it in a symbol like an image, a metaphor, a gesture, sound, poem, movement, etc. 

It is not how the Listener would react or respond to the Story.

What the Listener says:

“Now, I will go inside and see if I can capture the Essence of how you are holding your whole story from your standpoint, using my own bodysense, and express it to you in a symbolic way.

While I do that, please take a moment of quiet time and be very gentle with yourself.”

What is a relationship check?


In Janet Klein’s own words, “I always wanted to know what other people thought of me but was too timid or too polite or too frightened to risk asking.  Now that I was a Focuser, I wanted to know how other people felt about me.” 

In forming Interactive Focusing, Janet included this in the form of a “Relationship Check”. Each partner has the opportunity at the end of the session to ask two key questions:

Where are we in our relationship right now?  How do I feel about you after you telling me all that about yourself?  

And where am I with myself?  How do I feel about me inside of myself right now after revealing all of that to you and to myself?

The format of the Relationship Check, like the rest of an Interactive Focusing session, is grounded in safety for each of the partners, and for the relationship between them. This form of reflection on the relationship itself is an important part of what builds both empathy and compassion in an Interactive Focusing partnership, by building trust that my partner and I will express ourselves, both about self and other, in a caring, kind, non-judgmental way.

See: “The Relationship Check” By Janet Klein, Psy D

Link to PDF

What is a Focuser as Storyteller?


An important principle of Interactive Focusing is the need for the Focuser to tell at least a part of the story of the experience they bring to the partnership session. Janet Klein believed that, without some story, the Listener would be unable, or at the very least, find it very difficult, to capture the essence of how it is for the Focuser.

Thus, the term “Focuser as Storyteller” reminds each partner that the Focuser will tell some part of their story, before finding the felt sense of how that is inside - the felt sense, or as Janet liked to call it, the “bodysense”. 

What is a Focuser as Teacher?


In Interactive Focusing (IF) partnerships, as in all Focusing partnerships, the Focuser, who we call the “Storyteller” in IF, is encouraged to let the Listener know what kind of reflection is wanted, whether suggestions (guidance) are welcome, and any other specific requests they have about their focusing session. 

This concept is called “Focuser as Teacher” so that both partners understand it is an “instruction” or suggestion, but not a demand on the part of the Focuser/Storyteller.  

See FAQ “What is a Focuser as Storyteller?”

What is Empathy?


Empathy is defined in different ways, depending on the source.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Understanding feelings by itself does not mean empathy. Sharing is essential. In order to empathize with you, I must be able to feel what you are feeling. 

The Gallup Organization includes empathy as one of the universal “strengths themes” that describe the talents all humans possess in some measure. They define empathy as “[sensing] the feelings of other people by imagining [oneself] in others' lives or others' situations. 

While imagining oneself in the situation of another does not seem as impactful as sharing feelings, both elements contribute to a complete understanding of empathy for the purpose of Interactive Focusing. This understanding is crucial to successful participation in a “Double Empathic Moment”, in which the Listener takes in the essence of how it is for the Focuser/Storyteller with the Listener’s own bodysense, and returns a symbolic expression of what comes inside. 

For more on the Double Empathic Moment, refer to other parts of this website and articles by Dr. Janet Klein, Psy D.

For more about the Gallup Organization’s “Strengths Philosophy”, follow this link.

How Do We Listen? How Could We Listen?

Posted on

One of the first things we can explore about interaction is cultural norms around listening.

Do our norms support healthy relationships? If we are talking about the cultural norm of listening to respond, then the answer may be “No”.

What do we mean by listening to respond? And what is the alternative?

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I am happy to answer any questions you may have about these Interactive Focusing opportunities.