Year Founded: 1991
Model of Therapy: Inner Relationship Focusing
Inner Relationship Focusing, developed by Ann Weiser Cornell and Barbara McGavin, is a client-centered, body-based therapeutic practice that emphasizes supporting the client’s positive relationship with emotional and somatic states. Within an interpersonal context of safety and respect, the clinician helps the client to cultivate an ability to turn toward and gently connect with emotional reactive states, so that felt senses can form. Clients are supported in an inner contact with a felt sense, which allows new possibilities to emerge for emotion, thought, and behavior. Inner Relationship Focusing is emotionally supportive and accepting, leading to positive attachment experiences both between therapist and client and within the client. Clients learn empowering skills of self-support to bring into daily life.
Focusing is the ability to drop down below repetitive concepts and emotional states, and freshly sense the implicit dimension of some life issue in the body. Research on client process, performed by Eugene Gendlin and others at the University of Chicago, demonstrated that clients who spoke articulately about their problems did not do as well in therapy as those who, in some moments in the session, were in contact with something freshly and immediately felt that they could not articulate easily—the “felt sense."
Focusing can only be brought effectively into clinical settings by clinicians who are able to do Focusing for themselves. Clinicians can use Focusing for self-care, for deepening understanding of interpersonal issues with clients, for making transitions between clients and at the end of the day, and of course for their own life issues.
Focusing Resources offers two different training programs for therapists and counselors. Both are based on the understanding that clinicians learn Focusing first for themselves and then learn how to effectively bring Focusing to their clients.
- Focusing in Clinical Practice: The Essence of Change
This is a four-weekend program that meets in person in the San Francisco Bay Area and is taught by Ann Weiser Cornell. Each weekend, participants learn skills in Focusing for themselves, and they learn how to bring those skills into client practice. Participants practice with each other by phone or Skype between weekends, and consultation phone meetings are also offered.
- The Focusing Training Program: Healing Professional Track
This is a 20-week program in four segments offered by phone seminar, taught by Lucinda Hayden, Carol Nickerson, and Ann Weiser Cornell. Participants learn and practice skills of Focusing and being a “Focusing partner.” The program is open to the general public. Additional content for healing professionals—articles, audio, and video—is offered on a private web page. A consultation phone call to address bringing the process to clients is offered one to two weeks after each segment. Access to future calls is included at no additional charge.
About the Founder(s)
Ann Weiser Cornell and Barbara McGavin
Ann Weiser Cornell, PhD is an internationally known author and psychotherapy educator who has been working with the Focusing process and with its founder, Eugene Gendlin, since 1972. Ann has offered presentations and trainings in Focusing for psychotherapists at the American Psychological Association, the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, the Psychotherapy Networker Conference, the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine, and the Cape Cod Institute. Ann’s latest book is Focusing in Clinical Practice: The Essence of Change.
Barbara McGavin is an Inner Relationship Focusing teacher and practitioner and a leading theoretician in the development of applications of Focusing in difficult life areas. Barbara has been collaborating with Ann Weiser Cornell since 1992. They have written The Focusing Student's and Companion's Manual which is used by Focusing teachers worldwide. Her article "The 'Victim,' The 'Critic' and The Inner Relationship: Focusing with the Part that Wants to Die" has become a classic in Focusing literature.
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