A Focusing Manual



FOCUSING…………… Historical Background


Text from chapter 1 of FOCUSING by Eugene Gendlin    2nd ed.1981.  Bantam Books.

Over 400,000 copies of Focusing have been sold worldwide. It has been translated into twelve languages: French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Japanese, Swedish, Hungarian, Italian, Hebrew, Chinese and Greek.

Focusing is a discovery…..more than thirty years old, yet it is not widely known in this country.

Working at the University of Chicago, E. Gendlin and a group of colleagues were studying some questions that most psychotherapists do not like to ask out loud………………Why doesn’t therapy succeed more often?

Why does it so often fail to make a real difference in people’s lives? In the rarer cases when it does succeed, what is it that those people and therapists do? What is it that the majority fail to do?

Seeking answers, they studied many forms of therapy……. and analysed literally thousands of recorded sessions. Their studies led to several findings, some very different from what they and most other professional therapists expected.

First, they found that the successful person in therapy ~ the one who shows real and tangible change on psychological tests and in life ~ can be picked out fairly easily from the recorded sessions. What these rare people do in their therapy hours is different from the others…………..the crucial difference being ~ NOT the therapists technique, or differences in what the people talk about.

The difference is in how they talk.

That is only an outward sign of the real difference; what the successful people do inside themselves.”  giving a body centered inner friendly attention.

The purpose of the Focusing book and, hopefully, this project is to tell you what they were doing, how you can do it…… and in addition give you a place to practice, while using art materials.

What is Focusing? Text taken from the website www.focusing.org.

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 thoughts, feelings and emotions.

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.

What Are the Benefits of Focusing?

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.

Who Can Learn Focusing? What is A Focusing Partnership?

Focusing can be taught to anyone! Most people learn best in Partnerships.

First, one is guided through the process. Second, some didactic understanding of the process is given. Because Focusing is not a set of ideas, but an experiential process, it is best discussed after experiencing it. Third, people practice with each other, using listening skills Focusing guiding instructions and Focusing partnerships.



Introduction; Text from the Focusing Institute in New York  www.focusing.org

Most people find it easier to learn focusing through individual instruction than through simply reading about it. The actual process of focusing, experienced from the inside, is fluid and open, allowing great room for individual differences and ways of working. Yet to introduce the concepts and flavour of the technique, some structure can be useful. We offer one approach here: six steps. Although these steps may provide a window into focusing, it is important to remember that they are not THE six steps. Focusing has no rigid, fixed agenda for the inner world; many focusing sessions bear little resemblance to the mechanical process that we define here. Still, every Focusing Trainer is deeply familiar with these six steps, and uses them as needed throughout a focusing session.  Many people have had success getting in touch with the heart of the process just by following these simple instructions.

There are other ways of describing the focusing process. Indeed, every Focusing Trainer has his or her own way of approaching it.

So, with the caveat that what follows is a simple scaffolding for you to use as long as it's useful and then to move beyond, we offer to you six steps, a taste of the process.




                         What follows is a lightly edited extract from the Focusing Manual.

The inner act of focusing can be broken down into six main sub-acts or movements. As you gain more practice, you won’t need to think of these as six separate parts of the process. To think of them as separate movements makes the process seem more mechanical than it is – or will be, for you, later. I have subdivided the process in this way because I’ve learned from years of experimenting that this is one of the effective ways to teach focusing to people who have never tried it before.

Think of this as only the basics. As you progress and learn more about focusing you will add to these basic instructions, clarify them, approach them from other angles. Eventually – perhaps not the first time you go through it – you will have the experience of something shifting inside.

So here are the focusing instructions in brief form, manual style. If you want to try them out, do so easily, gently. If you find difficulty in one step or another, don't push too hard, just move on to the next one. You can always come back.


Clearing a space

What I will ask you to do will be silent, just to yourself. Take a moment just to relax . .  All right – now, inside you, I would like you to pay attention inwardly, in your body, perhaps in your stomach or chest. Now see what comes there when you ask, "How is my life going? What is the main thing for me right now?"  Sense  within your body. Let the answers come slowly from this sensing. When some concern comes, DO NOT GO INSIDE IT. Stand back, say "Yes, that’s there. I can feel that, there." Let there be a little space between you and that. Then ask what else you feel. Wait again, and sense. Usually there are several things.

Felt Sense

From among what came, select one personal problem to focus on. DO NOT GO INSIDE IT. Stand back from it. Of course, there are many parts to that one thing you are thinking about – too many to think of each one alone. But you can feel all of these things together. Pay attention there where you usually feel things, and in there you can get a sense of what all of the problem feels like. Let yourself feel the unclear sense of all of that.


What is the quality of this unclear felt sense? Let a word, a phrase, or an image come up from the felt sense itself. It might be a quality-word, like tight, sticky, scary, stuck, heavy, jumpy or a phrase, or an image. Stay with the quality of the felt sense till something fits it just right.


Go back and forth between the felt sense and the word (phrase, or image). Check how they resonate with each other. See if there is a little bodily signal that lets you know there is a fit. To do it, you have to have the felt sense there again, as well as the word. Let the felt sense change, if it does, and also the word or picture, until they feel just right in capturing the quality of the felt sense.


Now ask: what is it, about this whole problem, that makes this quality (which you have just named or pictured)? Make sure the quality is sensed again, freshly, vividly (not just remembered from before). When it is here again, tap it, touch it, be with it, asking...................... "What makes the whole problem so ______?" Or you ask, "What is in this sense?"

If you get a quick answer without a shift in the felt sense, just let that kind of answer go by. Return your attention to your body and freshly find the felt sense again. Then ask it again. Be with the felt sense till something comes along with a shift, a slight "give" or release.


Receive whatever comes with a shift in a friendly way. Stay with it a while, even if it is only a slight release. Whatever comes, this is only one shift; there will be others. You will probably continue after a little while, but stay here for a few moments.




Excerpts from the introduction by Marilyn Ferguson:

Focusing is uniquely suited to our turbulent times when so many old forms are crumbling and old roles are vanishing. Most of us are  having to invent, discover and create the next steps of our lives without a light, a map, or a relevant tradition. We are trying to keep apace of rapidly changing technology, trying to understand ourselves and our relationships, seeking new ways to be well, looking for meaning in our work and a new centre of gravity within ourselves. ... Focusing is a key to personal momentum and unfolding, a dynamic process that can guide us through the tricky maze ways of a new world.

Like any powerful, new idea, focusing is not readily described in old terms. It moves us into unfamiliar territory, the realm of creative potential that we have usually considered the province of artists and inventors.

Our brains and bodies know far more than is normally available to us. We are conscious of only a fragment of what we deeply know. The complex body-mind can provide new steps. Our deepest bodily knowledge can be welcomed and lived further. Focusing, whose steps are described with care and clarity, taps and articulates a new knowing. It befriends and listens to "the body", a term [that is used] comprehensively to mean the total brain-mind environment as we sense it. Focusing is at once richly complex and surprisingly simple. It is mental and kinaesthetic, mysterious in its capacity to summon buried wisdom, holistic in its respect for the "felt sense" of a problem. An effective method in itself, it is also valuable in conjunction with a variety of psychotherapies, with biofeedback, with meditation, to unblock the creative process and define problems............In short, focusing works for any form of "stuckness".

Focusing moves inward, drawing on information from the deeper, wiser self ("the body"). If the right steps come, usually within half a minute or so, the felt shift or bodily release occurs. ... The felt shift is essentially identical to the freeing insight of the creative process. The spontaneously creative person had learned to pay attention to at first vague impressions that open into new meaning. Focusing improves scores on many measures of creativity... most approaches to teaching creativity focus on the negative: how to let go of old beliefs. But there are few strategies for approaching the new. Focusing is such a method. It helps to make the implicit explicit. It draws fuzzy, pre-verbal knowledge into definition and expression...

Focusing can foster major shifts. With these more profound changes ... a body shift sometimes occurs without the usual accompanying words, phrases or images. "A whole constellation is changing. The ideas are so new we don’t yet have a way to talk about them."Usually, he said, we react in accustomed ways, "repacking our experiences in the same old concepts, when what we need is to let something wider in." If the focuser stays with the bodily sense of the shifting constellation, eventually new language and new metaphors, appropriate to fresh understanding, will emerge.

Focusing is no conventional repackaging of self-help wisdom. It is at once a manual and a philosophy. It talks about the body’s wisdom, the steps of the focusing technique, how to discover the richness in others by learning to listen. It looks at the potential for a new kind of relationship and a new kind of society, transcending outmoded roles and patterns. "A new society is forming ... one in which the individuals are much more developed and aware than has been true throughout history ... A society of pattern-makers is coming."This book is about that society and about how we can ease its emergence by helping ourselves and each other.