Focusing-oriented therapy for beginners

Holding the sun

I love the person-centred approach (PCA). I like that it lets you stay with your clients and does not expect you to direct them – indeed, requires that you do NOT direct them.

The PCA has several branches to its family including expressive arts therapy, existentialism and focusing-oriented therapy (FOT) (very americanised spelling, but that seems to be the way it’s ben kept, even in UK). I was never really bothered about FOT; I’m quite a ‘head’ person. I ‘think’ about things and can find it difficult to connect that to an emotion, or a feeling. Conversely, I can experience a body feeling but not have an emotion-word for it, so I thought that focusing would be hard for me to do and something I couldn’t relate to. Then I experienced a demonstration and it was like nothing I’d ever experienced, and I began to wonder if this might be something that would work for me as a therapist, and as the client I have to be.

So I booked an introductory 12-hour course with New Focus Therapy and merrily went down for the course.

It took some time for me to get in to, and I wasn’t always sure I’d like it. It can be process-directive (so you might ask your client to stay with a feeling, to talk to it, to acknowledge it etc, where in traditional PCA you wouldn’t), but I realised more and more over the weekend that as a PCA (trainee) therapist, I just choose DIFFERENT things to focus on.

Watching my fellow trainees (a group of us went together) experiencing being on both ends of this, and then having my own experience was incredible. Suffice to say, i am sold on this method and plan to learn as much about it as I can, in order to integrate it into my therapy. I think it would have very practical applications, for issues as diverse as dissociation, self-injury, sexuality ( coming to terms with) and more.

But my main point about this is: don’t wait until you’re qualified to look at things that interest you. If you have the resources (time-wise, emotionally, financially), GO to things. Some courses will say ‘only when you’re seeing clients’, but that’s not set in stone- I go to a CPD group in London once every few months that shares one of my areas of interest. The paperwork says that you must be seeing clients, but they were happy for me to come when I asked.

2 thoughts on “Focusing-oriented therapy for beginners

  1. Fascinating!
    It seems likely that the approach I use as a Psychotherapist – Mahrerian Experiencial Therapy (MET) – would be considered a member of the PCA family of therapies.
    It is expressedly a non-directive approach, and like FOT, it is common to work with a Client to “stay with” a feeling – be it emotional or physical. With MET this technique is used to build a chain of feelings or experiences, with the last link in that chain serving as a window or shaft that opens onto the experiencing of a new or seldom-experienced way of being and/or behaving which is healthier for the Client than others s/he has been using – a Deeper Potential. This ends up be a take-away for the Client which s/he can use thereafter in her/his regular, daily life.

  2. Thanks Gord, that looks interesting. I will have to do some reading on it!

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