Focusing is a process based on serious psychological research and philosophical wisdom.
The intersection of philosophy and psychology is at the root of Focusing and emblematically embodied by the work of its founder—Eugene Gendlin. Gendlin began his interdisciplinary research about fifty years ago, when he was at the University of Chicago as a graduate student in philosophy and was drawn to the work of Carl Rogers, the originator of client-centered therapy and director of the University Counseling Center at the time.
Rogers found in Eugene Gendlin a clever and devoted researcher who took charge of one of the most extensive research projects ever to be undertaken in the field of psychology, designed to evaluate the effectiveness of therapy. Gendlin saw in the project an opportunity to further his inquiries in thinking processes and the relationship between embodied knowing and verbal expression.
Following the analysis of hundreds of hours of audio-taped sessions to discover the key to therapeutic positive change, the results surprised everyone. Rather than correlating to therapeutic modalities employed by the therapist, or the attitude of the therapist toward the client, as Rogers posited, successful therapeutic change correlated more strongly with a particular way of inner attending performed by the clients themselves.
It was found that clients who groped for words, and took the time to let a vague and yet definite sense of their struggle and issues emerge from their connection to embodied sensations, were the same clients who benefited most from therapy. Gendlin coined the term felt-sensing to describe the client’s attention to the embodied sense of an issue, before or below verbal expression.
Eugene Gendlin dedicated many years of his life to formulate a way of teaching about felt-sensing and of harnessing its power for therapeutic change beyond the dyad of therapist-client. He felt strongly that the benefits of felt-sensing could be had in a partnership between people, not necessarily in the role of therapist and client.
This was the beginning of Focusing. His work earned him three awards from the American Psychological Association, as well as a life-long professorship at the University of Chicago (1963-1995) in the Department of Philosophy.
Gendlin is the author of many books and more than a hundred articles, and he is the founder The Focusing Institute, an international organization dedicated to the teaching of Focusing and to its application in a variety of disciplines and socio-cultural contexts.
More than a million people in 29 countries now practice Focusing.
Focusing is a practice rooted in a wider philosophy, what Eugene Gendlin has termed the Philosophy of the Implicit. The mutual reference of theory and practice between Focusing and the Philosophy of the Implicit is for many a deep learning and an entry point into experiential psychology and Gendlin’s philosophy, both sharing in their concern for the subjective creation of meaning and the centrality of lived experience.
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