Making Psychotherapy More Effective and Affordable

Listening in focusing partnership involves cultivating the habit of wanting to understand without judgment just what someone is saying in their own terms, with good will. Learning to have an open accepting space for whatever focuser, is a lifelong project. It never ends. How much you bring there, always will affect the rest. Starting with a basic good will and being able to sustain that through the specific content and way of the focuser are so important. You cannot just do that in a general way. “From the white light I can be with anyone” is nice but not what I’m advocating. We want to be engaged with the specifics and with the person of the focuser while freshly generating an openness to that particular person.

As a listener you need to know that that being with a person in their terms is already a great thing to be doing. Otherwise you’ll be looking for something more to do instead of putting your heart into just that.

Listening in Focusing Partnership

Listening in focusing partnership involves cultivating the habit of wanting to understand without judgment just what someone is saying in their own terms, with good will. Learning to have an open accepting space for whatever focuser, is a lifelong project. It never ends. How much you bring there, always will affect the rest. Starting with a basic good will and being able to sustain that through the specific content and way of the focuser are so important. You cannot just do that in a general way. “From the white light I can be with anyone” is nice but not what I’m advocating. We want to be engaged with the specifics and with the person of the focuser while freshly generating an openness to that particular person.

As a listener you need to know that that being with a person in their terms is already a great thing to be doing. Otherwise you’ll be looking for something more to do instead of putting your heart into just that.

The Essential Role of Self-Empathy in Focusing

I want to posit that self-empathy and a felt sense that can be related to and symbolized, articulated by word, gesture, image, sound, are two ends of the same see-saw.

One of the ongoing problems of teaching focusing is the person who has great difficulty recognizing or acknowledging or relating to a felt sense. Moreover, even people who do know how to get a felt sense may have difficulty getting a felt sense in relation to a particular issue. Moreover, even people who can get a felt sense with a particular issue, may not be able to allow it to emerge to the place where it is moving through steps (Not Gendlin’s “6-steps” but the little changes that a felt sense goes through) and eventually, a qualitative change. Understanding the role of self-empathy and its intrinsic relationship to the felt sense, even it being part of one “self-empathy>>felt sense” process can help with these problems. Moreover, self-empathy has the potential to add elegance to the focusing process by linking many strategies to one idea. In addition it adds strategies that were hitherto unthinkable or difficult to think.

I want to elaborate on self-empathy theoretically, in practice, and in new practices.

Focusing with Difficult Feelings – The Safety Protocol

Domain Focusing in the initial 1-2 years has more boundaries by a listener in partnership than any other focusing style I know. This includes the limitation of process suggestions like “maybe you want to stay with that”. That is partly because DF gives more freedom to guide as a practitioner than any other style so someone must be great at following and at listening in partnership or they cannot learn to guide in this system. Each guiding suggestion in DF comes out of a new implying generated by an authentic reflection. It is also because listening without any need to fix or help is one of the skills requiring the longest most sustained amount of practice. It is also for having the happy differentiation between egalitarian and practitioner. It also is for safety in an egalitarian setting.

Domain Focusing and its Function of Self-Empathy

With difficult feelings or problems like rage, obsession, addiction, anxiety, grief, depression, dissociation, disorientation, trauma, lovesickness, and social isolation, it can be very hard to do focusing. The feelings are too intense. Rather than getting a felt sense of the whole of the situation in a way, from outside the situation, you get a feeling of the intensity of the situation—a possible entry to felt sensing but not necessarily a felt sense (a feeling of the whole). The intensity or strength of the feeling overwhelms what little felt sense is there. For example, rather than getting a whole sense of the depression which necessarily brings hope, you feel the spreading devouring all encompassing intensity of the depression and just feel more depressed. Rather than feeling the whole of your issue with anxiety which is, by definition, “more than” the anxiety, and which, by definition, brings the promise of a way forward, you only feel accelerating debilitating anxiety. This is NOT felt sensing, but it can be quite challenging to make the distinction.

The Fertility of Domain Focusing: the Three Logics of Growth

Domain Focusing has three domains: thinking, feeling, and empathy. The domains are not mutually exclusive but one becomes dominant at certain points in the focusing process and then it is important to know how to function in each domain. I see focusing as the linking and crossing between these domains. Each of the domains have ways of entering the implicit. Linking domains is often also an entering of the implicit. More specific names of the domains in action:

Thinking—situations, story, insight;
Feeling—exploring felt sensing;
Empathy: self-empathy.
Each domain has a logic functioning in the background.
Thinking: traditional logic
Feeling: logic of experiencing (Gendlin)
Empathy: logic of beingness. (aka logic of loving)