Musings

What is a Focusing-Oriented Counsellor?

 

Firstly, I should say something brief about what Focusing is.  It is a way of learning about others and myself.  It combines meditation–the bringing of my attention to bear on a specific content–and creative expression–the use of language, pictures, movement, music, etc. to gain an understanding of that content. The bridge between these two activities is what Focusing calls the felt-sense or felt meaning.  It is a sense, often experienced physically in the middle of the body between the abdomen and the throat, a notion that does not yet have words to describe itself, and yet a person knows there is something there.

Let me try to give a simple illustration of what a Focusing oriented counsellor might help you explore.

Suppose your partner and you are having difficulties serious enough to threaten your relationship.  Over the years, you’ve both tried our best to sort it out but have failed.  Now, you both feel totally stuck and powerless to move through it.  The Focusing-oriented counsellor will help you rather than to move away from these unpleasant feelings, to spend some time with them.  You find a place where you can be with these feelings, not as victims overwhelmed by them, but as interested, concerned observers.  Easily said.  Not so easily done especially when the point of contention between you touches deeply to the core of how you see yourselves.  It takes practice.  The practice, the finding of that safe place of observation is the meditative move in Focusing.  It is also similar to what the scientist does when they take up the attitude of a detached observer though, in this case, accompanied by the added quality of empathy.  If you are patient enough, when you sit with your formerly unwelcome emotions, you will have an inexplicable, unexpected sense, you may feel it in your bodies, that your lives are not quite the misery you thought they were.  It’s as though being with your despair, accepting its presence rather than turning away from it, has brought you a degree of calm, of self-acceptance.  Initially, this new feeling may make absolutely no sense, for it seems you have done nothing but simply be present to what is there.  You try to find words that will say something about this new feeling of calm.  This is the expressive, creative move of Focusing: the step you take to understand, to give some shape to, the experience you are having right now.  If you find some words–perhaps related to a personal memory, a value you hold, a person you know–it gives form to the vague impulse you started with, so that you can now hold it in your thoughts, mull it over and work further to better understand what it’s all about.  And so the work unfolds.

This approach to counselling, that is interested in all that the client brings with them and makes a space to non-judgmentally listen to it, has been described as a kind of midwifery.  It allows what the client brings to be heard, accepted and grow beyond where it was stuck into what it was originally conceived to be.       .

Should you be interested to learn more about Focusing-oriented counselling, I invite you to contact me.  Additionally, there is a wealth of free, downloadable information on this subject at http://previous.focusing.org/

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