What Is Focusing Orientated Psychotherapy?


Focusing is an innovative technique developed by Eugene Gendlin from extensive research into what makes therapy work. The earliest origins of Focusing are found in Gendlin’s collaborative relationship in the 1950’s with Carl Rogers, the Founder of Client-Centered Psychotherapy. Gendlin has been recognized by the American Psychological Association as the Distinguished Professional Psychologist of the Year for his work.

Early on Gendlin and his colleagues studied why some clients succeeded in therapy and many others did not. They found that improvement in therapy had very little to do with a therapist’s therapeutic orientation, specific techniques, or with the type of problem being addressed. Instead, the important element of positive change had to do with “how” clients processed their experiences internally.

With further study, Gendlin eventually identified the specific internal activities that facilitate successful problem resolution and positive change and these internal activities were highly experiential. Gendlin also discovered that these internal processing skills were teachable. Over many years, Gendlin refined the specific instructions needed to teach people to perform the crucial components of this natural, effective method of internal processing. Because this process allows one to bring an unclear, vague, inner body felt sense of a problem or situation into clearer focus, Gendlin named it Focusing. Focusing is then a way of approaching a problem or situation with a special internal and highly experiential processing strategy that greatly increases the chances of positive outcome.

Focusing allows access to deeper levels of awareness, wisdom, and self guidance that reside inside each of us. Through an easily learned, step-by step process, Focusing teaches how to turn our attention inside our bodies where we carry all our personal experiences, memories, sensations, emotions and feelings. This place of refined mind-body awareness contains an unlimited source of knowledge, that provides us with the capacity to solve problems and achieve personal fulfillment. Simply stated, Focusing allows us conscious access to that which often remains unconscious or subconscious, due to the fact that most people do not know how to access it.


Focusing principles and strategies have been successfully incorporated into the counseling and psychotherapy fields. One of the greatest strengths of Focusing is the ease with which it can be integrated with other therapeutic approaches. Focusing does not supplant any established therapeutic methods but instead serves as a crucial supplemental element for other approaches to improve their effectiveness. The Focusing process can be implemented as a formalized step-by step, stand-alone approach. It can also be implemented more informally as a focusing-oriented, integrative approach whose interventions flow naturally from the emerging client’s experience, therapeutic framework, and relational interaction.
Regular practice of this natural process can have profound benefits for you both personally and professionally. Focusing will help you feel more at home in your body and be able to access its wisdom and perspective.  You can feel more present. It is a powerful and effective way to help you access deep levels of process, bypass intellectualization, avoid being flooded with overwhelming emotion and go directly to the bodily source of change." (Ann Weiser Cornell, PhD)