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Focusing: Video

"I want to start with the most important thing I have to say: The essence of working with another person is to be present as a living being. And that is lucky, because if we had to be smart, or good, or mature, or wise, then we would probably be in trouble. But, what matters is not that. What matters is to be a human being with another human being, to recognize the other person as another being in there."

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I am so glad you are here, so let's practice together.  If you happen to stumble upon this site, it is a reminder to take a pause, to be present, and take time to reflect on your life journey.  What brought you here today?  You are here for a reason. Life can bring great challenges and turn life upside down in an instant.

Grief. Loss,  or feelings you cannot understand even when everything is just fine. A certain unease that you cannot describe in words. Maybe the concerns have not manifested clearly yet, but they are there within you, just as the solution is too.

The goal is to open yourself to this moment and to move towards what matters the most. So, to take a pause, to listen deeply and discover that your feelings have something to communicate to you. Fear, anger, joy. Each part of you has a gift to give you.

The truth is that you are ok, you are already well, and whole, but when life brings unexpected challenges through life transitions, grief, loss, or traumas, you may feel sad, angry, afraid, overwhelmed, and confused.

Even positive life transitions can throw us off, a new relationship, a birth, graduation, or even a work promotion can be joyful, yet unsettling. It can, at times, be difficult, however, during these moments to experience your essential wholeness. In therapy, you can take a pause. In the company of a therapist, you can take a deep breath, be present, look inward and begin to truly listen to yourself, and what your needs may be at this time.

I want you to know that I am available to be with you during this time. You are not alone. Together we will work to create a life that is meaningful to you, while effectively handling the pain and stress that life inevitably brings. Here you will learn to deal with painful thoughts, and feelings effectively in such a way that they have less impact and influence on you. Here you will be able to begin to clarify what really matters to you, what brings your life meaning and purpose.

I welcome you here. Come and tell me your story. I will be here to listen. You have taken the first step. With mindfulness, acceptance, and compassion I provide a safe and non-judgmental space where you can share openly and honestly.

In Focusing we learn to listen to our body's wisdom, to the felt sense of a situation, so I welcome you here today with whatever comes and as you are read these words, take a deep breath and listen deeply. Then, ask yourself, “How am I doing, right now?” and “What needs my attention?”

and then…

Be silent.

Be present.

And wait until something comes into your awareness, and place your hand on any part of your body, your chest, stomach, or throat, or maybe in the part where you feel a slight flutter, a movement, a sigh and listen to whatever comes. 

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I came to Focusing when I was creating a new course for graduate students at New York University in the late 1990s when I was a professor there.  I was researching therapeutic presence, and my research led me to Focusing.  I read Eugene Gendlin’s book “Focusing” and later recommended it to everyone I met.  I took my first course on focusing with Anne Weiser Cornell and then joined psychotherapist and focusing trainer, Charlotte Howorth Focusing-Oriented two-year training

I am a Focusing-Oriented psychotherapist and Focusing trainer, and focusing is part of my everyday life.  I teach Focusing to all of my students at  Touro College Graduate School of Social Work. I offer introductory focusing workshops in Spanish and in English, Focusing and the creative process, particularly writing and the visual arts. I am grateful for the Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy process of Laury Rappaport and I use her work in teaching trauma-informed expressive arts at Touro.   As a  Zen practitioner, and meditation teacher, I also offer Focusing and Meditation instruction.  

Focusing is best experienced through a guided session. It is developed through continuous practice through an individual partnership or through workshops. I offer both guided sessions and workshops, to schedule a session, please contact me. If I am not available, please contact the Focusing Institute.

I am deeply grateful for all of the Focusing teachers and peer focusers I met and who have continued to be wise teachers and friends. With gratitude to Eugene T. Gendlin, and my teachers Ann Weiser Cornell Ph.D., Lynn Preston,  and Charlotte Howorth, and my lifelong Focusing partner Kim.

So what is Focusing?

Focusing was developed by Eugene Gendlin and others in Chicago in the 1960s, the following work with Carl Rogers and Richard McKeon.  Dr. Eugene Gendlin wrote, Focusing is a way of “unlocking the wisdom of your body.”

So, Focusing is an inward way of listening to our body's wisdom.   It involves open, mindful, non-judging attention to our internal knowing, which is directly experienced, but it is not yet in words.

Focusing can help you become clear on what you want or need, to obtain insight or healing into a situation. 

For me, Focusing is a mindfulness-based somatic approach that consists of specific steps for getting a body sense of how you are about any issues in your life. The body sense might be vague at first, but later becomes clear like “butterflies in my stomach” or “tightness in my throat” and as you pay attention you open to words and images and you begin to experience a physical change in the way that the life issue or concerns are being lived in the body. With focusing, we learn to listen to our body's wisdom to live in a deeper place with ourselves and issues as they arise.  

Focusing is incorporated into many therapeutic modalities including Emotion-Focused Therapy, AEDP, Internal Family Systems, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, ACT, and others. These are Focusing instructions created by Eugene Gendlin.  On the focusing institute website, there are several modifications to these instructions.

Neil Friedman for example states “There are no sacred instructions.” and I know, Eugene Gendlin would agree. 

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“What is split off, not felt, remains the same. When it is felt, it changes. Most people don't know this! They think that by not permitting the feeling of their negative ways they make themselves good. On the contrary, that keeps these negatives static, the same from year to year. A few moments of feeling it in your body allows it to change. If there is in you something bad or sick or unsound, let it inwardly be and breathe. That's the only way it can evolve and change into the form it needs.” Let your body interpret your dreams 1986 

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“There are no sacred instructions.”  

Neil Friedman

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These are Focusing instructions created by Eugene Gendlin.  On the focusing institute website, there are several modifications to these instructions.

Neil Friedman for example states “There are no sacred instructions.” and I know, Eugene Gendlin would agree. 

1. Clear a space
How are you? What is between you and feeling fine?
Do not answer; let what comes in your body do the answering.
Do not go into anything.
Greet each concern that comes. Put each aside for a while, next to you.
Except for that, are you fine?

2. Felt Sense
Pick one problem to focus on.
Do not go into the problem.
What do you sense in your body when you sense the whole of that problem?
Sense all of that, the sense of the whole thing, the murky discomfort, or the unclear body-sense of it.

3. Get a handle
What is the quality of the felt sense?
What one word, phrase, or image comes out of this felt sense?
What quality-word would fit it best?

4. Resonate
Go back and forth between word (or image) and the felt sense.
Is that right?
If they match, have the sensation of matching several times.
If the felt sense changes, follow it with your attention.
When you get a perfect match, the words (images) being just right for this feeling, let yourself feel that for a minute.

5. Ask
"What is it, about the whole problem, that makes me so _________?
When stuck, ask questions:
What is the worst of this feeling?
What’s really so bad about this?
What does it need?
What should happen?
Don’t answer; wait for the feeling to stir and give you an answer.
What would it feel like if it was all OK?
Let the body answer
What is in the way of that?

6. Receive
Welcome what came. Be glad it spoke.
It is only one step on this problem, not the last.

Now that you know where it is, you can leave it and come back to it later.
Protect it from critical voices that interrupt.

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  Focusing teaches how to turn our attention inside our bodies where we carry all our personal experiences, memories, sensations, emotions, and feelings. This place of refined mind-body awareness contains an unlimited source of knowledge that provides us with the capacity to solve problems and achieve personal fulfillment."

James Strohl

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"As these connections are made between what the body knows and what the mind knows, one is enriched with an inner strength and  direction. This freeing process allows life energy to flow forward into positive new ways of being."

Eugene Gendlin, Ph.D.

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To foster resilience and community engagement, Focusing Initiatives

The Focusing Initiatives International website states that “the mission of Focusing Initiatives International promotes social change by supporting people and communities to develop wellness, inner healing, and creative solutions to local problems. They base their  work on a deep vision of how human beings thrive when they are physically and emotionally safe, and free to secure their needs and shape their communities in ways that hold meaning and significance for them. It is grounded in the philosophy and experience of Focusing. They provide consultation, collaborative program development, and support for community efforts to apply the methods and wisdom of Focusing practices to the specific needs of their local situation. To learn more about Focusing Initiatives International go to their website

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Here's what the Focusing Institute says:
Focusing is a mode of inward bodily attention that most people don’t know about yet. It is more than being in touch with your feelings and different from body work.

Focusing occurs exactly at the interface of body-mind. It consists of specific steps for getting a body sense of how you are in a particular life situation. The body sense is unclear and vague at first, but if you pay attention it will open up into words or images and you experience a felt shift in your body.
In the process of Focusing, one experiences a physical change in the way that the issue is being lived in the body. We learn to live in a deeper place than just thoughts or feelings. The whole issue looks different and new solutions arise.


Focusing helps to change where our lives are stuck. The felt shift that occurs during Focusing is good for the body and is correlated with better immune functioning. More than 100 research studies have shown that Focusing is teachable and effective in many settings. Focusing decreases depression and anxiety and improves the relation to the body."

The International Focusing Institute

The website notes that "The International Focusing Institute is an international, cross-cultural organization dedicated to supporting individuals and groups world-wide who are practicing, teaching and developing Focusing and its underlying philosophy."

Image by Anil sharma from Pixabay 

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I provide HIPPA Compliant, Tele-therapy for children, teens, young adults, and their families, as well as couples therapy and premarital counseling.  Once you have registered for my service, I will provide you with a secure link.

Presently, I am unable to accept new clients, please see the resources section I created for you by clicking "Resources". I do provide in-person and online workshops, please check "upcoming events"

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