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 me explore.

Suppose my partner and I are having difficulties serious enough to threaten our relationship.  Over the years, we’ve both tried our best to sort it out but have failed.  Now, we both feel totally stuck and powerless to move through it.  The Focusing-oriented counsellor will help us rather than to move away from these unpleasant feelings, to spend some time with them.  We find a place where we 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 us touches deeply to the core of how we see ourselves.  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 accompanied by the added quality of empathy.  If we are patient enough, when we sit with our formerly unwelcome emotions, we will have an inexplicable, unexpected sense, we may feel it in our bodies, that our lives are not quite the misery we thought they were.  It’s as though being with our despair, accepting its presence rather than turning away from it, has brought us a degree of calm, of self-acceptance.  Initially, this new feeling may make absolutely no sense, for it seems we have done nothing but simply be present to what is there.  We try to find words that will say something about this new feeling of calm.  This is the expressive, creative move of Focusing: the step we take to understand, to give some shape to, the experience we are having right now.  If we find some words–perhaps related to a personal memory, a value we hold, a person we know–it gives form to the vague impulse we started with, so that we can now hold it in our 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


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