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)

Domain Focusing—A Focusing Teaching Model

My model of teaching focusing comes out of 4 principles:
1. Wild warm wonderful following of others and of oneself
2. Togethering—coordinating and elaborating functions so that they are more
congruent.
3. Differentiated Recognition—empathy for self and others.
4. Contextualized Value Opportunity—discovering an opportunity for value
through a deeper understanding of context.

Elusive Felt Sensing

For over a decade I have been interested in the dilemma of a felt sense not forming. I have been interested in this as a focusing teacher, as a focusing oriented psychotherapist and as a focusing theoretician.

As a theoretician it would bother me that the felt sensing would start to seem to be a matter of personality style. Those who already knew it would get it easily, those who knew it a little would find it with difficulty. Those who knew it hardly at all would have great difficulty ever finding it, especially in focusing partnership where they were guiding themselves. Explanations that those without access were cut off from experience in their childhood were dubious to me from my experience.

On the other hand, when someone had access to felt sensing, the change process that focusing describes would happen, it would be so glorious both in teaching or as a psychotherapist. Access to felt sensing would seem to be the whole question when it comes to success with focusing.