Learning Community as a Path to Focusing Certification

Summary of Typical Progress

  1. Thoroughly learn basic Focusing for 1 year or more, equivalent to Parts 1-4. During this time, establish a regular Focusing partnership. Request to join the Learning Community for Mastery in Guiding Change.
  2. Begin your official Certified Focusing Professional training when the timing is ripe for you. Join the Focusing Institute as a Trainee with me as your Coordinator. Select a second Mentor. Complete your personal learning plan on your Certification Journey Chart. Schedule initial self-assessment.
  3. Proceed with your learning plan. Update mentors and keep track of progress on your chart.  Schedule second self-assessment when you have a sense of ‘half-way there’.
  4. Proceed with your learning plan, open to adjustments of more or less. Update mentors and keep track of progress on your chart. Schedule your final self-assessment when you have a sense of completion. Celebrate your achievements & new sense of self!
  5. When TIFI welcomes you, US residents pay $500, all other countries pay less on a tiered schedule I can provide you. You will choose your preferred title and are invited to attend the Weeklong Celebration held in October. You are encouraged to continue as an on-going member of the Learning Community in whatever ways it supports your growth as a Focusing Professional.


Focusing Certification is Unique

No one owns Focusing, it is a natural human process. Gene and Mary Gendlin were clear that their goal was to make Focusing accessible to those who are drawn to it. TIFI exists to make Focusing findable and works to preserve this openness.

Each Coordinator is encouraged to develop their own certification program. My program is based on my own certification with Ann Weiser Cornell and my involvement as a co-mentor for a variety of other Coordinators. It is also continually evolving as I interact with students drawn here and come across more ways forward that resonate as right for those here now.  

Focusing is an experiencing process and each of you start from where you are and find your own unique way. Your journey will be very much like the dance of implicit-explicit that we are learning to live. Certification is a step on a path into making Focusing yours and using it as a vehicle for change. This path offers you a philosophy as guideposts and a supportive community to grow and evolve with.  


Acceptance to the Learning Community

Acceptance to the Learning Community for Mastery in Guiding Change may happen via email if you are one of my students. If we have not met and there is space in an upcoming program, we’ll set up a free chat to sense into right fit. Once you have been accepted, even if the Learning Community has not yet started, you are eligible to proceed with your mentoring process to obtain certification as a Focusing Professional, Guide or Trainer with The International Focusing Institute (TIFI). It could also be that you begin your certification journey after you have completed the first year in Learning Community. Everyone’s journey is a unique process.



Find Two Mentors

To move toward certification, your first step is to secure two Mentors. Your primary Mentor must be a Coordinator with TIFI. I (Sandy Jahmi Burg) will be your primary mentor. Your Co-Mentor can be either a Coordinator or someone at a Certified Focusing Professional level. Please take your time with this process. Ideally, you develop enough of a relationship with this person to really grasp how they have crossed Focusing into their life. Choose mentors that bring a sense of life forward flow within you to all this about getting certified. The three of us follow your process through a series of 3 Focusing sessions where you will invite all this about becoming a Focusing Professional, what experiences you want to support this and where you are in the process. You determine the timing of these, essentially at the beginning, middle and when you sense you are complete. We all follow your body and it is also a co-creative venture. The fulfillment of your training is determined by a consensus process with both mentors. In this case consensus will mean that the felt senses of each of us are heard, and trusted, until a shared result emerges.

Kelly and Sandy meet in nature, Boone, NC

The mentoring process is an honor for both mentee and mentor. We all have relational and self-empowerment skills that allow authentic heart connections to form. Here, Kelly and I chose to meet at a park halfway between our homes to celebrate the completion of her journey to become a Certified Focusing Professional.


This Certification is Given by The International Focusing Institute

Your journey begins and continues with TIFI in this way:

  1. Soon after you are accepted by your mentor (generally me or possibly someone in a close relationship with this program), you will join TIFI as a Trainee. There is a 3 tier fee structure for the period while you are training. US residents pay $75/yr, Europe & Canada $55/yr, Developing Countries $35/yr.
  2. Three self-assessment sessions with both mentors present are required. Once you have had your final self-assessment session and both of your mentors agree you are ready, your primary mentor notifies the Institute. You will pay a $500 fee to the Institute (less for other countries). From here, your certificate will be prepared and mailed to your mentor(s) for their signature(s).
  3. TIFI offers three certification titles. They are Certified Focusing Professional, Certified Focusing Trainer and Certified Focusing Oriented Therapist (FOT). They are equivalent certifications with one exception. To be a certified FOT you need to be certified by a Coordinator who is an FOT and runs a FOT training program. I have therapists in my program; however, I am not an FOT. With the Learning Community certification path, you can choose between Certified Focusing Professional or Focusing Trainer, or choose to have both titles on your certificate. 
  4. Congratulations! You are encouraged to set up your own webpage at focusing.org. You are also encouraged to attend the next Advanced and Certification Weeklong, generally held each year, either in person or online.
  5. To maintain your certification on an annual basis, you will need to maintain high standards of honesty and confidentiality at all times. We hope that you will continue your professional development and remain active in the Focusing community by attending workshops or other events where Focusers gather (minimum of one every 3 yrs). There is such an incredible range of applications and diversity to explore within our worldwide community. There is also a $165/year annual fee to TIFI.


Three Felt Sensing Applications

Certification via the Learning Community involves these three applications of Felt Sensing:

1 – Our Relationship with Self

2- Our Relationship 1:1 with Another Person

3- Our Relationship with Community and the Greater World Beyond


Our Relationship with Self

I describe this as being able to access Self-in-Presence as a state of being in daily life moments = living the power of the pause. This develops over time with consistent practice. It includes all of the skills developed by Mary Hendricks-Gendlin in the document available HERE from The Focusing Institute’s website.

How we show up for ourselves, the qualities we bring to our inner space will directly influence our interactions with others. We start here and it is often our relationships with others that bring growth here that we might not otherwise have discovered on our own. Thus, there is this continuous sense of reaching out beyond self and bringing it back to your center.


We develop a stronger sense of our own I AM as we consistently drop within, living the power of the pause and creating inner space to be with.


Your two mentors, your other Focusing partners, Learning Community classmates and others in the greater Focusing Community that you reach out to are your companions for this personal journey in evolution of self and possibly revealing the emerging teacher within. We are all with you, in the capacity you welcome us, tuning in to how your felt sense is guiding your training process. This is a radically different educational form. People have found that they experience their growing readiness to guide other or teach Focusing in a bodily way, from the inside. Rather than being told from the outside that you are ready, this process allows you to feel it from the inside. We will also experience social Focusing here in that your mentors will share their felt senses that emerge as they follow along with your journey.


Three Self-Assessment Sessions with both Mentors. Truly revolutionary: these guide your journey.

At least three more Focusing/Mentoring Sessions with each Mentor. You can bring whatever is relevant for you to these sessions. Often it is supportive to plan for a monthly session with one of your mentors throughout your time in certification (generally 1-2 yrs).

Explore your own sense of self, becoming more fluid in the dance of implicit-explicit. You may use the suggestions below (or others that come to you freshly) to meet this commitment to self-growth.

Suggestions (complete two, possibly more)

  • Use the incredible resources of books, workshops, videos provided by our greater Focusing Community to deepen your understanding of living life as process.
  • Self-Led Retreat – this is a real challenge for many of us and one worth taking on as a growth opportunity. Can I design a retreat of 24-72 hours for myself and find my way back to Self-in-Presence as a state of being enough to feel like this time was a success for the whole of me? You might go somewhere or stay home.
  • List daily habits you’ve developed that support you in practicing the power of the pause. Possibly you add a new one every few months during your certification journey. Possibly you keep this as a Focusing topic you return to every month or so to check in on.
  • Use art to document a visual of what it is like to be you for your three self-assessment sessions. One suggestion is to create a mandala each time.
  • Create Soul Collage cards as part of your journey to certification. These could be helpful to have as visuals later if/when you start teaching.
  • Develop Self-Focusing as a practice.
  • Write a love letter or poem to yourself.
  • Explore ‘Trust’ or “Authenticity’ as part of your Certification journey. Do this in whatever ways come to you freshly.
  • You might choose to write a paper or develop an exercise on any of these (or find another way) to share the richness of one of these experiences with your Mentors, the Learning Community or with others you teach.
  • Develop self-invitations that invite deeper spiritual meaning to emerge contributing to a new sense of self in this world. Or explore this as a crossing or project within yourself or a spiritual community.
  • Other ideas that come to you.


Our Relationship 1:1 with Others

This has three aspects.

  1. Maintaining a Focusing partnership as a priority in your life.
  2. Maintain Connection with your Mentors, touch-in approximately monthly with updates.
  3. Guiding Clients in a Felt Sense Experience

Focusing Partnership

Creating Space for Lasting Change, Levels 1-4 (or the equivalent experience you had before you joined the Learning Community) will have prepped you to be able to maintain a Focusing partnership. This will look somewhat different for each of us. What is important is that you are showing up regularly for your process on this deeper relational level where two are together in Presence. Relational challenges that come up are almost always bigger than this situation here now. You will be invited to a Triad, a group of 3 certification students who are encouraged to meet 4 or more times in the upcoming year to Focus and share what you learn along the way.

Guiding Clients in a Felt Sense Experience

This is the core of what we will explore in your first year in the Learning Community for Mastery in Guiding Change. Refer HERE to the Learning Community webpage for more details on the skills we will develop during our journey together.

Guiding Practice Requirements

  1. Share a 20min zoom video recording in gallery view with the consent of your volunteer. This is a first-time session for someone who may have exposure to Focusing concepts but has not experienced a Guided Session. You will share this video in Learning Community. We will share appreciations and process any transitional moments with curiosity.
  2. Bring 3 or more case studies of your experiences guiding others for appreciations and open discussion to small group time in the Learning Community. Invite Sandy to your group as needed for questions. These will primarily be scheduled in the second and ongoing years.
  3. Complete a minimum of 30 Guided Sessions with clients, at least 10 are first-time sessions. Share progress updates with your Mentors.  
  4. Record the dates you complete these on your Certification Chart.

*Allow yourself spaciousness in completing these, most likely beyond the 1st year of Learning Community.

Additional Suggestions (optional)

  1. Read Ann Weiser Cornell’s Focusing in Clinical Practice or Gendlin’s Focusing Orientated Psychotherapy or other books from the reading list on my website.
  2. Write or draw or maybe develop a movement piece illustrating your experience of Focusing partnership.
  3. Attend Focusing Changes groups as a way to explore different types of partnership experiences from various other ways that Focusing is taught. Or maybe approach this as a way to explore cultural differences. Where is the common ground? Share what you learn about the common ground with the Learning Community.
  4. Request membership in TIFI’s Partnership Proficiency Program. Explore partnership within this format, sharing your experience with the Learning Community.
  5. Make it a goal to incorporate aspects of Focusing, like cushions or Presence Language, or bringing curiosity to uncomfortable moments, more often from wherever you are into your daily 1:1 encounters.
  6. Other ideas that come to you…


Our Relationship with Community and the Greater World Beyond

This also has two aspects:

  1. To deepen our understanding of Gendlin’s philosophy and how it meets our experience of living in this world.
  2. Developing an experiential workshop of Focusing skills/concepts, on your own or with others, and presenting both within, and to at least one community outside of, our Learning Community. Teaching is one of our best learning opportunities because it requires us to integrate our knowing.

Gendlin Meets the World

In Creating Space for Lasting Change, Level 4 we study Thinking at the Edge (TAE steps 1-8)) with Betty Szatkowski. We then develop and present a 15-30 min crossing project in class. If you have not done this, I may be able to arrange for you to drop in on 2-3 classes of a Part 4 class I have scheduled. You could also take TAE classes with other Focusing trainers. Nada Lou and Beatrice Blake currently teach these fairly often. You could also approach this via studying Gendlin’s philosophy with someone like Neil Dunaetz, Rob Parker or Donata Schoeller. In addition to this Part 4 crossing project, a minimal will be to read the five Gendlin philosophy excerpts you receive from me after the last 5 classes in the first year and actively participate in a heartfelt discussion within your small group that meets outside of class. You are encouraged to practice the concept of ‘crossing’ by engaging within your own communities outside of class or bringing another crossing project to our Learning Community similar to what you did in Part 4 while expanding to a 45 min presentation.

Teaching Focusing to Groups

In the Learning Community, you are encouraged to experience a Focusing workshop outside of our class, something that interests you. From that experience, prepare a 45 min experiential presentation to share with the Learning Community. You are also required to teach to beginners, a minimal of a 1 hour workshop. This can happen in many ways and you may want to take advantage of a lot more teaching practice while you have the regular support of your mentors. 

Interacting with our Community Requirements

  1. Explore Thinking at the Edge Steps 1-8 in Part 4 culminating in a 15-30 min crossing project that you present. OR take a TAE class with other trainers. OR study Gendlin’s philosophy with appropriate trainers.
  2. Read the Gendlin philosophy excerpts I provide and discuss this within your Learning Community small group that meets outside of class. This happens within the last 5 classes of your first year. If you miss one, you could drop in the following year or arrange another small group time.
  3. Attend a Focusing workshop outside of our Learning Community that interests you. From this experience, prepare a 45 min experiential presentation to share with us.
  4. First participate in and then present a 1 hour workshop within the Beginning Focusing Bits offered regularly at Corona Plaza.life. This will be under the guidance of Nina Joy Lawrence and Pat Omidian who have a deep understanding of how to share Focusing concepts as a foundation of Community Wellness. This teaching to beginners requirement can also be met in other ways if you prefer. Here is the description of these workshops:

Beginning Focusing Bits

  • Do you want to find a way to accept your whole being
  • What about growing more genuine relationships in your life?
  • Maybe you would enjoy including your body as well as your emotions and thought processes in your decision making.
  • Are you looking for a way to deal with stress or inner conflicts?

Focusing helps with all of these and is a gift you can give to your whole being. You can start with effective little bits that build into a grounded ability to deal with what comes in your daily life. 

This is a free course that can be joined at any time. If at some point, this is no longer an option, most likely you are creating a workshop for a group you are familiar with. 

*Allow yourself spaciousness in completing these, most likely beyond the 1st year of Learning Community.

Additional Suggestions (optional)

  1. Read books by other Focusing trainers or my Smartview Stories series. I highly recommend Reaching Resilience by Patricia Omidian, PhD and Team, a training manual for Community Wellness produced with Focusing Initiatives International for easy Community Health training ideas.
  2. Schedule a 1.5-hour presentation for our Learning Community by your 2nd mentor or another person you’ve learned from and value what you received. You are the tech support and help plan breakout exercises with them. The topic is something this person enjoys teaching that you would like to share with us. This person will be paid by the Learning Community for their teaching time. They do not have to be Focusing trainers.
  3. Teach a Focusing Part/Level 1 workshop to a group of your choice.
  4. Develop a website explaining the services you do provide (or will provide) related to Focusing certification.
  5. Communicate about Focusing on social media.
  6. Offer introductory talks about Focusing to communities you are involved in.
  7. Write within a blog or other format about the benefits of Focusing related to mental and physical health and well-being.
  8. Participate in TIFI’s roundtable series to interact with international Focusers.
  9. Help for Helpers is hosted by Lynn Preston every Monday morning at 8:15am ET at coronaplaza.life. This group is a weekly gathering to empower, hearten and encourage therapists, counselors, teachers and helpers of all kinds. 
  10. Other ideas that arise freshly…


Fees to Expect on your Journey to Certification

Of course your journey includes all that you bring with you before you even start advancing your Focusing skills. All that we invest in, and experience utilizing these skills in our own lives, comes back to us when we begin exploring how to share this with the communities around us. With blessings to all that has come before, and that you choose to add along the way, here is an estimate of your bottom line if your journey is primarily with me. Beginning with the Prerequisite Guided Focusing Session and ending with your certificate from The International Focusing Institute, those in the USA can expect fees to be around $3500 -$4000. I suggest you allow yourself space for additional sessions and classes along the way and then your journey may be more like $5000. Contact me for a breakdown of these fees in pdf format.

**Please note, it’s quite possible to do this for less if you need to. I will be glad to work with you to come up with a certification path and budget that will work for you.**

In terms of time, this certification path is probably about 3 years total. If you already have done a lot to prep before arriving here, it could be more like 2.5 years. It also can take longer. I will ask you to stay a member of the Learning Community as long as you are actively engaged in this journey.