If you believe that you can harness empathy and make choices about when to experience it versus when not to, it adds a layer of responsibility to how you engage with other people. If you feel like you're powerless to control your empathy, you might be satisfied with whatever biases and limits you have on it. You might be okay with not caring about someone just because they're different from you. I want people to not feel safe empathizing in the way that they always have. I want them to understand that they're doing something deliberate when they connect with someone, and I want them to own that responsibility.
JAMIL ZAKI is an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University and the director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab. Jamil Zaki's Edge Bio Page.
This article is in two parts. The first part is the story of my (Kevin’s) experience of combining two disciplines: the Alexander technique and Focusing. This integration, that I call Wholebody Focusing, has been unfolding and continually reinventing itself over the last twenty-eight years. In this article I want to demonstrate how the key elements of Focusing have transformed my experience of the Alexander technique and how the Alexander technique principles—how postural use affects body functioning—have enriched my Focusing experience in very specific ways.
Abstract. The use of focusing in couples therapy can help a couple remove blocks to intimacy, understand themselves and each other more deeply, shift stuck dynamics, and nurture connection and intimacy. Focusing-Oriented couples work helps interrupt the cycle of blame, defensiveness, and attack. This is replaced with an attitude of respect, gentleness, and kindness toward themselves and the full range of their experience. This approach to couples therapy is based on the premise that what is happening between the members of the couple is a reflection of what is happening within the two individuals. In this somatic approach, focusing helps each partner stay connected to their own bodily felt sense of relevant issues and concerns. This allows a safer way to uncover underlying feelings, needs, and concerns. Learning to express these in a gentle, nondefensive, tender way creates a climate that invites and nurtures intimacy, love, and connection.
Enjoy a variety of downloadable articles and links to a variety of topics with an emphasis on trauma-informed practice and expressive arts therapy, play therapy, mind-body approaches and neurobiology-focused concepts. Check back often for new articles and resources; also visit Books for more information on published materials on a wide variety of topics including art therapy, creative interventions, mindfulness, positive psychology, counseling, and play therapy.
The Focusing Institute: Focusing is direct access to a bodily knowing. Focusing is a practice developed from the Philosophy of the Implicit.
Dr. Carl Rogers was Gene Gendlin's colleague and friend at the University of Chicago. Rogers' person-centered approach opened the way for Gene's elaboration of Focusing. This is a delightful talk that Rogers gave in 1974. He mentions Eugene (Gene) T. Gendlin 's work which Gene would four years later write about in his book "Focusing."
In Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Lauren J. Human and colleagues (2014) examined why well-adjusted people seem to be judged more accurately. Their investigation led them to discover that those who are well-adjusted are viewed more accurately due to the congruency between their personality and actions. In other words, more well-adjusted people were more authentic or congruent, and therefore were more transparent to others as a result. These findings support a key concept of humanistic psychology identified by Carl Rogers: a key ingredient of a fully functioning personality is congruency or authenticity.
Focusing: A Path Toward Befriending Feelings During the 1960’s, the psychologist and philosopher Eugene Gendlin asked a simple question: why do some people make progress in psychotherapy, while others don’t — and what is happening...
We are all survivors and I want to suggest that this is truly remarkable. Every last one of us has learned how to survive and function in the particular life we each find ourselves in. And here we are alive today. To congratulate ourselves for this feat is not to overstate but to name and recognize our genius in our ability to adapt to life and to develop skills that are exquisitely right for what is needed for us to function in our world more or less adequately.
We never question this ability. We take it for granted because it starts so young, until one day something happens and then the whole thing, our skill and our sense of our own ability are thrown into question. The event could be a simple thing, it could be something dramatic like an accident or a breakup, or it could be something gradual like the aging process. Whatever it is, what is real is that suddenly our ability to function and to know what to do comes into question. Depending on the situation, and the way we handle ourselves, this could come as quite a shock to our whole system, our whole survival system, even though we know it isn’t about our survival, but it feels like it is. We often panic at the very moment we need to be clear and centered, all because we don’t know what to do and we feel helpless in that frustration.
Abstract: Mindfulness and acceptance are key terms within person-centred experiential psychotherapy and focusing. Here, this subject is looked at from three different angles: How does the therapist in person-centred experiential psychotherapy succeed in being mindful and accepting (the aspect of therapist variables)? How can the therapist facilitate the client to be more mindful and accepting towards him- or herself (the aspect of the client variable)? How can the client learn to develop a mindful and accepting attitude towards him- or herself (the aspect of self-help through focusing)? The therapist core variables (unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence) are presented, with an emphasis on unconditional positive regard. Presence, a variable which has been discussed since the eighties, is understood and described as a basis variable. Eugene Gendlin generated a re-orientation within person-centred psychotherapy. The attention of the therapist does not focus so much on the person expressing feelings and opinions. Instead, what is sensed on a bodily level, even if it is still vague, is put in the centre of attention and is considered as the origin of change processes. This makes it possible for the therapist to intervene in a more accurate way by referring to the felt sense. Such a reference to the bodily sensed inner experiencing in the present moment, even if not very clear yet, leads to a decisive change in the concept of personcentred psychotherapy: the “dys-identification” or the development of a constructive inner relationship. In focusing, which enables clients to apply the core variables of PEPT towards themselves and to initiate a constructive inner process of experiencing and changing by themselves, these changes are summarised in a condensed form. With regard to the issue of “mindfulness and acceptance within the person-centred concept”, the author refers to statements by Rogers himself, but also by Gendlin and more recent authors like Greenberg, Hendrix, Iberg and Moore. A comparison between PEPT and Buddhism is made according to the example of the Japanese person-centred psychotherapist Kuno. In this discussion, differences and commonalities of the two concepts are compared. The author goes deeper into the theory of Thich Nhat Hanh and Kabat-Zinn, and compares these with statements made by Rogers and Gendlin.
Blue Sky Focuisng is an ingenuous combination of ”Focusing”, a form of psychotherapy, and several Buddhist meditations. It comes from personal sufferenings that confront therapists everyday, and creates new personal meanings from these sufferings. In addition, it brings us the light of compassion.
Striking effects of Blue Sky Focusing are being researched. You can write to the following email address to send in your experience annonymously. The submitted experiences will be used for research and may be published. Submitting your experiences in email means that you consent to having your experiences studied and published. Please add @yahoo.co.jp to the address below.
It is part of our human nature to be sensitive to life and other people. But oftentimes, we're criticized for being too sensitive. This article differentiates between being sensitive and being reactive. As we become more aware of our triggers, we can heal the wounds that lead to reactivity, which allows us to live with a more open, accessible heart.
Focusing was developed through research into psychotherapy effectiveness. Eugene Gendlin found that those clients who were attending to their bodily felt experience in a caring, gentle way were making the most progress in psychotherapy. This article describes Focusing as a path of befriending our experience just as it is.
Keynote Address to the Fifteenth Focusing International Conference 2003 in Germany
Mary Hendricks-Gendlin, Ph.D. Director, The Focusing Institute
Focusing is a force for peace because it frees people from being manipulated by external authority, cultural roles, ideologies and the internal oppression of self attacking and shame. This freeing has to do with an ability to pause the on-going situation and create a space in which a felt sense can form.
When we know how to focus we refuse to take ourselves or any other person as merely an instance of a culturally defined category or group. We don't say, "I am good, you are bad." Or, "I am a wife and mother" as though this defined the total of who I am. Or "You are the doctor, I am the patient" as though our interaction would then be governed only by the meanings of those roles. Or "I am a Christian or a Moslem" as though the ritual forms would then exhaustively define my spiritual life. We know there is always a rich detailed intricacy, a "more" in each person's experience.
I will tell you a story about pausing the cultural role level of a situation so that a felt sense can form. You will see that this pausing allows "the patient" to break the culturally expected role behavior of unquestioned acceptance of the external authority of "the doctor."
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