Focalizing is a type of therapy that attempts to tap into the source of a person’s emotional distress and use intuition as a tool to heal the distress. This therapy places emphasis on bringing light to the unconscious without a person reliving any trauma.
Rather, the person in therapy typically works with a qualified professional toward the goal of emerging from therapy with a new perspective on distress.
- What Is Focalizing?
- Theory of Focalizing
- Approaches and Techniques Used
- Criticisms and Limitations of Focalizing
What Is Focalizing?
The central theme of this type of therapy is the discovery of a person’s inner compass, which is defined as a source of self-compassion that guides a person through challenging life experiences. Focalizing was developed by Michael Picucci after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1983. He began to experience depression and anxiety related to the fear of dying and felt he had not lived to his full potential. Through self-reflection, he was able to go deeper than his feelings of depression to find a source of compassion that drove his research into energy psychology and Eastern alternative forms of treatment. After two years, he was found to be cancer free, and he decided to pursue a doctorate in psychology. Focalizing developed as the combined result of his experience and studies.
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Developed to treat people who are living with varying degrees of emotional distress, focalizing is generally not recommended to those living with more serious mental health conditions such as schizophrenia or personality disorders. Focalizing requires a person to be able to self-reflect on a deep level, and this level of self-reflection may be challenging to some of those experiencing certain mental health conditions.
The purpose of focalizing is for a therapist to help a person activate inner intelligence. This intelligence is used to bring awareness to unconscious emotions. Once a person is able to bring these emotions to the forefront, the therapist can then help the person through the process of realizing how the release and/or transformation of those emotions can have a powerful effect on the development of new insight into certain areas of life.
Theory of Focalizing
The theory of focalizing stems from Picucci’s 9-pointed star of focalizing. This star includes the 9 stages to the focalizing approach, with an emphasis on how each of the stages connect to make one experience. Each stage precedes the next, so without one stage, the full experience of focalizing is not possible.
- Intention: an energy that directs a person toward a goal
- Suspension: the act of stopping any judgments directed toward one’s self
- Sensing: recognizing the body’s energy and allowing this energy to be released
- Imaging: meaningful images evoked by the sensing stage, such as images of loved ones
- Resourcing: the meaningful images become resources providing a soothing sensation
- Engaging opposite energies: a new feeling of energy transforms old energy, with the old and new energy merging to provide the person with greater clarity
- Shifts of perception and experiencing: developing new perspectives on situations
- Soulful integration, also S.O.U.L. (Systemic Organization of Universal Love): the complete reorganization of a person’s energy that can establish a whole new method of operation in one's life
- Physical manifestation: the change in a person’s behaviors and ways of responding to certain situations
Approaches and Techniques Used
The following techniques are commonly used in focalizing:
- Body drop: The therapist encourages the person in therapy to pay attention to different areas of the body. The person is asked to acknowledge any judgments that come to mind and to redirect attention to the body parts. As the person attends to each body part, the therapist asks the person to describe any experiences or emotions that surface. This technique attempts to help the person gain control of the inner compass defined above.
- Rubbing hands together: The person is asked to rub both hands together, increasing speed over time and focusing on the heat and energy being created between the hands. The person is then asked to place the heated hands over the heart and encouraged to describe the bodily experience of heat and the flow of energy. The goal of this technique is to establish further bodily awareness and help the person understand the energy flowing in the body.
- Guided imagery: The therapist will ask a person to visualize a memory in which intense love was experienced and describe the images in great detail, explaining what is seen, heard, smelled, or tasted. The goal of guided imagery is to redirect a person’s energy to feelings of love in order to practice forms of self-soothing.
Criticisms and Limitations of Focalizing
Focalizing does generate some criticism in the world of therapy. One such critique addresses the requirement that a person devote a great deal of energy and attention for an extended period of time. Maintaining such focus for an entire 60-minute session can be difficult for some people. It may be helpful for those who are not ready to devote such trained attention to the body and its sensations to first spend time addressing areas of challenge in therapy before they are ready to deeply examine bodily experiences.
Many people who might benefit from focalizing have also often developed prior insight into difficulties and/or emotions.
Another limitation of focalizing is the difficulty some people experience when attempting to translate the sense of peace and bodily awareness they gain during focalizing into practical life changes. In these cases, the therapist may go a step further in order to help those in therapy explore ways newfound bodily experiences can be used to make actual life changes.
- Focalizing? (2015). The Focalizing Institute. Retrieved from http://www.theinstitute.org/new-page
- Therapy and Treatment (2015). Focalizing: Going within to move beyond. Retrieved from http://focalizing.com/therapy
- Picucci, M. (2012). Focalizing source energy: Going within to move beyond. Dublin, OH: Telemachus Press, LLC