Felt Sense

felt-sense-manFelt sense is a concept that describes internal bodily awareness that arises from increased awareness, often as a result of psychotherapy.

What is a Felt Sense?

Philosopher Eugene Gendlin originally developed the concept of a felt sense, which functions as a connection between the mind and body. People experiencing a felt sense feel more in tune with their body and bodily processes, and often even feel as if they can feel themselves within their stomach or chest.

While a felt sense is partially emotional, Gendlin characterized the concept as a combination of emotion, awareness, intuitiveness, and embodiment. The felt sense is often unclear; people cannot specifically verbalize what they are feeling, but often describe it as a vague awareness of things ranging from old psychological traumas to burgeoning ideas.

Felt Sense and Mental Health

Gendlin argued that an increased awareness of a felt sense can emerge from psychotherapy, and several mental health professionals and new age practitioners have drawn upon his work in an attempt to increase bodily awareness and encourage people to trust their intuitions. The process of focusing is a formalized process that encourages people to increase their bodily awareness, leading to a felt sense. Practitioners argue that focusing can increase self-awareness and comfort within the body and may also work to help relax clients.

Focusing-oriented psychotherapists practice a therapeutic modality that draws heavily on the concept of the felt sense, and encourage their clients to engage in focusing both during and between psychotherapy sessions. These practitioners may also use journaling or drawing to encourage focusing and the establishment of a felt sense.


  1. Cornell, A. W. (n.d.). A felt sense. Know Buddhism. Retrieved from http://www.knowbuddhism.info/2009/02/about-felt-senses-ann-weiser-cornell.html
  2. Embodied situated cognition/The felt sense. (n.d.). Embodiment. Retrieved from http://www.embodiment.org.uk/topics/felt_sense.htm
  3. Katonah, D. G. (n.d.). Felt sense and cognitive function. Focusing.org. Retrieved from http://www.focusing.org/cognitive.html

Last Updated: 08-7-2015

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