Focusing-Oriented Therapy

Allowing Change to Unfold FOT oage

Most of the ideas we hear about how to change are really nothing more than how to push aside, get around, or think positively about a situation.

How often have you said or heard something like this:

    • I should be over this by now.
    • Why can’t I get myself to change?  I must be lazy.
    • I hate myself for feeling like this.
    • I just want this feeling to go away.
    • Maybe I just need to be more positive.

We think change is something we have to force on ourselves, and if we are not able to do that, we are weak, lazy, or broken. Sound familiar?

You cannot force change – the feelings you want to escape need your attention.

I have a row of hammers in my tool shed. Sometimes it helps to apply force to an object to get it to change. But human beings are not objects. We are process. Our moods, emotions, and thoughts are always in process. We are interaction with a situation and the world we find ourselves in. If we apply force to our process, we interrupt it, creating a more complex problem in which we feel more stuck.

Change happens when we can tap into our bodily felt process—below the constant flutter of thoughts and feelings. Here we experience the holistic feel of the issue waiting to show us the way forward. Focusing-Oriented therapy is different as a process of change because we find change in the very pain or experience we wish would go away.

As a Focusing-Oriented therapist, I help people turn toward what is painful in a safe and supportive way.

I help them learn how to step back and observe their experience while they are developing a relationship with it.

When I hear a client say: “I am tired of feeling like this. I just want this feeling…this part of me to go away or change.”

I say: “Would you like to learn to listen and trust your feelings in a way that allows them to change? What you want to get rid of is something that needs your attention. I can teach you how to safely turn toward it and listen in a way that brings steps for change and new possibilities.”

Working with a ‘felt sense’ is key to successful therapy.

Most of the time, we do not know what we are experiencing. Seldom do others listen to us deeply, or do we pause long enough to listen to ourselves. Focusing-Oriented psychotherapy (FOT) is a relational process of listening to and reflecting a client’s meaning in a way that allows the client to sense for something more about their whole situation. This bodily felt, holistic sense of a situation is referred to as the felt sense. This is the source of new and fresh information that leads to steps of change.

One of the strengths of FOT is that it can be integrated with other therapeutic approaches. It opens up each method’s potential by adding the crucial body-centered process of working with a felt sense. For example, FOT has been integrated with brief, solution-focused therapy, family systems, psychoanalysis, dream work, body work, and existential therapies.

Focusing represents a significant advance in psychotherapy and has earned Eugene Gendlin, its founder, three awards for his work from The American Psychological Association. It’s also considered very useful in healing trauma.

“If there is in you something bad, sick, or unsound, let it inwardly be and breathe.  That’s the only way it can evolve and change into the form it needs.” – Eugene Gendlin, founder of Focusing


My approach to therapy is to combine the best of many ways of working with clients to help each in a unique and empowering manner. If you’d like to schedule a therapy appointment or learn more about the Guided Focusing Sessions I offer, contact me.  I offer a free initial half-hour session so that you can sense if my services could be a good fit for you. I’d love to hear from you!