by Kara Hill, MA, LMHC, FOT
The Felt Sense Conference was established a year ago as a commemoration of Gene Gendlin’s life and a furthering of his work. It is a celebration especially of his philosophy. While I appreciate the mindful and somatic aspects of Focusing, what makes it truly unique in the work of psychotherapy is the rich philosophy underpinning it. Focusing-Oriented therapy is not a simple technique to apply, but a whole way of understanding being human and in relationship.
In his philosophical work, Gendlin rejects the common notions of categorical thinking and fixed patterns. He demonstrates that we are primordially whole beings in interaction with everything (one another and the world), and that we are not objects but processes. Being human is never static. It is an ever growing, changing, emerging experience. Everything I experience is both a part of my unique process and actively in interaction with every -thing and -one else. This inherently intersubjective thinking reaches beyond “parts work” and self-regulation to emphasize a non-verbal whole “feel” of things within which even the tightest knots have the space to unfurl, naturally and in their own right way. This non-verbal, sensed whole, or “felt sense” of things is what makes Focusing truly effective for me and my clients. While we can all experience a felt sense without fully understanding it, the felt sense is best explained within the context of the philosophy underpinning it.
In addition to my passion for his philosophy, I had the opportunity to speak with Gene on three occasions. Once he told me I was right-on, once he informed me I was dead wrong, and once we merely confused each other. I have deep gratitude to Ann Weiser Cornell for the gift of having had these encounters and am struck by how even such small contacts forged a real sense of connection to the man.
Connection to Gendlin and his philosophy were not the only draws, in my deciding to attend the Felt Sense Conference this year. It bears saying that I will also have the opportunity to further a friendship that was established in Chile at the Weeklong this past January. The Weeklong produced a friendship so deep and dear to me that I am, in some ways against logic, traveling to New York City to both support her teaching and to simply spend time with her again. I am grateful for the depth of community that learning Focusing and becoming certified as a Focusing-Oriented Therapist have brought me. I encourage you to consider joining me in this community by further exploring Focusing for yourself through this conference and/or through training in Focusing to enhance your therapeutic healing practice, life, or other passions.