Ann Weiser Cornell

Ann Weiser Cornell

Ann Weiser Cornell is a contemporary psychology educator and writer who specializes in Focusing and developed the Inner Relationship Focusing technique.

Professional Life

Ann Weiser Cornell was studying linguistics at the University of Chicago in 1972 when she met Eugene Gendlin, the developer of a psychotherapeutic technique called Focusing. Cornell began studying with him to develop his theories, and in 1980, Cornell joined Gendlin as a facilitator for his workshops. Cornell eventually became a full-time Focusing teacher, and she is currently a leading Focusing practitioner and theoretician. 

Cornell is one of the most well-known teachers of Focusing, and she has written several manuals and books designed to help people learn her focusing technique, Inner Relationship Focusing, including The Power of Focusing, The Radical Acceptance of Everything, and Focusing in Clinical Practice: The Essence of Change. In addition, Cornell collaborated with Barbara McGavin to create the theory and process known as Treasure Maps to the Soul that is designed to apply Focusing to many different challenges including depression, addiction, and blocks to life fulfillment.

Cornell comes from a family of scientists. Her brother is Mark Weiser, who developed the concept of ubiquitous computing. 

Contribution to Psychology

Cornell expanded on Gendlin’s Focusing to develop Inner Relationship Focusing (IRF). Gendlin’s Focusing employs the concept of a felt-sense: a feeling or sensation in the body that can't easily be described using traditional psychological or anatomical language. As a client moves toward healing, Focusing aims to help the client experience a felt-shift, which is the recognition and verbalization of what the felt-sense represents, with a shift toward a more positive experience and the integration of body and mind. Cornell’s IRF is based on her concept of Self-in-Presence. Cornell defines ‘presence’ as the calm, inquisitive, balanced, natural state of the self. 

A licensed therapist works with a client to achieve this balanced state and to support parts of the self, or “partial-selves” as Cornell terms them, that are in need of compassion, comfort, and validation. IRF incorporates specific language, specifically “Presence language,” to describe what a person experiences in therapy. The use of this type of language allows a client to acknowledge the existence of a feeling without having to identify with it. The therapist encourages the client to refer to feelings in a descriptive way, rather than identifying feelings as things. For example, a therapist might reflect to the client, “Something in you that is feeling sad wants to be noticed,” rather than labeling the feeling “the sadness in you wants to be noticed.” In addition, the therapist will use suggestions, rather than direct questions with the client. One of the core tenets of IRF is the full acceptance of the client by the therapist.

Dr. Weiser Cornell Featured on

In July, 2010 Ann Weiser Cornell presented Inner Relationship and the Art of Facilitative Language, a web conference available to clinicians for CE credits.


  1. Cornell, Ann Weiser, and McGavin, Barbara. (n.d.) Inner relationship focusing. Focusing Resources. Retrieved from
  2. Focusing Resources. (n.d.). Ann Weiser Cornell. Focusing Resources. Retrieved from

Last Update: 07-23-2015

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