What is Focusing?

You receive wise and accurate “advice” from your inner self all the time.

You may even know this to some degree already. Have you ever noticed that, deep down, you have a “sense” of how to move forward, and which way to turn? Have you ever had the feeling that, deep down, you just knew whether an action you wanted to take, or a person you just met, “felt right” or didn’t?

The trouble is, this sense within you, as in all of us, gets clouded over, unclear, confusing. Sometimes the messages from within seem to contradict one another. You may have been taught as a child not to trust what you really think or feel. Or you may have once followed something that you thought felt right, but didn’t go well. So you learned not to trust these messages from within, or even listen to them, until they became fainter and fainter.

This is too bad, because those inner messages
can help you in so many ways,
if you know how to access and listen to them
“advice” from your inner self all the time.

How Focusing Began

Focusing was developed in the 1970s by psychologist Eugene Gendlin at the University of Chicago who had been conducting research on what causes change in psychotherapy. He along with his colleagues taped thousands of hours of therapy sessions and then compared them to outcome studies, reports about how much people were helped by their therapy.

What he found was remarkable: Clients who had the most positive therapy outcomes did something very specific during therapy sessions, usually starting from the very first couple of sessions. Even more surprising, they did it instinctively, without ever being taught how.

It wasn’t analyzing their problems or expressing their emotions. Rather, at some point during their sessions, these therapy clients…

simply paused and began to get in touch
with something they felt or “sensed”

going on inside them right at that moment in the session. This “felt sense” was something new, unclear at first, emerging from somewhere inside, that became clearer as they stayed with it and expressed it. When it became clear, suddenly a problem or feeling they had that had been puzzling or mysterious to them, that “didn’t make sense,” started to make sense.

This, Gendlin found, was the key factor in therapeutic change.

Because the process seemed to involve people getting in touch with something that was unclear and “out-of-focus” at the start and got clearer as they went along, Gendlin decided to call it “Focusing.” And he decided it was something people could be taught to do, with or without therapy.

Focusing Today

Since then, Focusing has been taught to hundreds of thousands of people in 43 countries. Different methods and techniques have been developed by many different teachers from around the world to help people get in touch with and follow that inner sense until it leads to clarity and the resolution of problems. It has been used to help people with many emotional and behavioral issues, including depression, anxiety, pain management, anger management, weight control, substance abuse, procrastination, and many others. A version of it has been taught to children, and another version has been developed for conflict resolution and used in war-torn countries.

It’s also just a great way to understand yourself better, resolve everyday problems, become calmer and more centered and balanced, and make better life decisions.