The Fastest Introduction to Focusing

[New? Start here:]

  1. Hurlburt, Russell T., and Sarah A. Akhter. “Unsymbolized thinking.”Consciousness and Cognition 17.4 (2008): 1364-1374.
  2. An introduction to Focusing: Six Steps
  3. Self-Therapy by Jay Earley—Step-Cutting-Edge-Psychotherapy/dp/0984392777/

So, I actually don’t remember what’s actually in the original Gendlin Focusing book, and there’s not a table of contents on amazon to jog my memory. I remember that it’s pretty good, relatively precise, but also that it’s tedious because it’s written for a popular audience. The goal is to be able to work effectively with nonsymbolic thought in a wide variety of circumstances, creatively towards your own ends, and to jumpstart that as quickly as possible.

(Not everyone needs that, though. Symbolic thought is great, and symbolic thought carries nonsymbolic thought along with it, implicitly.)

Anyway, the first link above defines it. The second link helps for getting a flicker of a sense of it; it’s going on all the time, you just need to learn to “find” it and sort of maybe pin it down a bit. It can take time and practice. The third link, via Internal Family Systems Therapy, provides an excellent, though laborious, step-by-step structure for one way of working with it. (There’s a cheat sheet in the appendix.) Over time, or immediately, you can dispense with the scaffolding and work intuitively with the raw experience. I work most often with the raw experience, but I bring back different kinds of scaffolding frequently, too.

(For more depth, I might recommend Gendlin’s book for professionals [1]. And then there’s Coherence Therapy [2], which hints more directly at deep structure, and much more… )

[1] Gendlin, Eugene T. Focusing-oriented psychotherapy: A manual of the experiential method. Guilford Press, 2012.

[2] Ecker, B., and L. Hulley. “Coherence therapy practice manual and training guide.” Oakland, CA: Pacific Seminars. 2006.

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4 thoughts on “The Fastest Introduction to Focusing

  1. Back in October, based on one of your links, I downloaded a guide to focusing, and tried it, with a difficulty I was having involving my avoidance of initiating a difficult conversation.  I was left with the impression , from the literature that focusing is not designed to work on specific problems but as a kind of open ended exploration of a certain topic.  Would you say this is true?

  2. I think Focusing can actually be extremely helpful for a specific problem. Focusing per se provides less structure than other techniques though, so it can be hard to get a lot of mileage out of it without experience. You might ask:

    What is the hardest thing about this?
    What makes this so difficult?
    What’s the crux of this?
    What’s the worst part of this?
    What would make this so much easier?
    What is this preventing me from doing?
    What would happen if this wasn’t a problem?
    What would happen if this problem magically went away?
    What’s making it hard to resolve this issue?

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