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April 2018 Newsletter

Note From Catherine
Dear friends,
As I write these words, I am sitting with a strong sense that there is already so much richness in this newsletter. I think my role now is to be brief so that you can spend adequate time with all the people you'll encounter in the articles below.
I wonder if you've noticed that we have begun having lots of articles where one Focuser interviews another one. The idea came to us because we wanted to find a simple and enjoyable way to make the members of our Board and our International Leadership Council better known to you. Instead of hounding the members of those two bodies to write articles, we thought they might prefer to be interviewed -- and do they ever! It's been so successful that we are expanding to have more interviewer-writers to do more interviews of more Focusers doing more things.
What's been especially delightful is hearing from the interviewers and the interviewees about how much they enjoyed connecting with one another. So far, the interviewers and interviewees had not known one another prior to the interview, or knew one another only very casually. In every case, the warm connections that arose testifies to the power of Focusing. When a person begins to habitually check inside for their felt sense, they also tend to learn to deeply value the felt sense of the person they are interacting with. This way of being often allows strangers to connect heart-to-heart almost instantly. I remember noticing the same phenomenon when I went to the first Focusing Institute Summer School (FISS) in 2006. I'd been a Focuser for many years, but only practiced it with the small group of people with whom I'd studied. When I went to FISS that first time (and year after year, because I got hooked!), I was struck by the way that we were able to be with one another. I remember remarking that I'd been in lots of warm and welcoming communities before, but never in one in which the ease, honesty, and kindness was so pervasive.
The deep appreciation our interviewers and interviewees feel for one another has come through in each of the articles that the interviewers have written, despite the fact that their writing styles have been as individual as the people themselves. Please make sure to read them and see for yourself.
Well... I wasn't as brief as I'd intended. I get so excited by how Focusing makes every aspect of life more... more!
With warmest regards,
-Catherine Torpey, Executive Director, 
The International Focusing Institute
In this issue:
An "Experientializing" Way of Responding
First Felt Sense Conference
Tender Loving Curiosity
The First European Conference in Focusing
10th International Children Focusing Conference
Conciencia Corporal y Discernimiento
Focusing with Pain
Upcoming Courses and Events
Membership Benefits
Ways to Help the Institute
Join Our Discussion Lists
Board of Trustees
Leslie EllisAnnouncing our newest Board Member:
Leslie Ellis 

We are delighted to announce that following the recommendation of the Nominating Committee, the Board has elected Leslie Ellis as its newest member. Learn more about her here.
An "Experientializing" Way of Responding 
Interviewing Susan Rudnick, by Maria Skoufas
Susan Rudnick is on the Board of The International Focusing Institute.
Susan: How did I get [to Focusing]? I was a psychoanalyst trained at the Karen Horney Institute and I gave a public education talk about Zen. After the talk, this lovely woman came over to talk to me. She is a therapist and a Zen practitioner. Her name is Anna Christensen. We started meeting, talking about our common interests, and she said, "You've got to learn this thing called Focusing." She was in Mary Hendricks' first training group in New York. So off I went to an introductory weekend with Mary and she was an amazing listener. Two seconds and you're in another planet. It just felt magical. It started to really fill a gap that I wouldn't have been able to articulate in my training and work with people. Something that had to do with really slowing down and going into the experiential mode, which people sometimes do, but you kind of do it by chance. It's not emphasized. If it happens, great. But Focusing - this was a process to facilitate that.
Maria Skoufas is a Certified Focusing Trainer. She currently works as a Client Support Manager for a telecommunications company, facilitating communication and connection for her business clients.
Board of Trustees
The International Focusing Institute Initiates
The First Felt Sense Conference in New York City
Board of Trustees
Tender Loving Curiosity
Interviewing Hejo Feuerstein, by Kara Hill
Hejo Feuerstein is a member of the Institute's International Leadership Council (ILC).
Hejo Feuerstein
It was through client-centered therapy that Hejo became aware of Focusing. At the time, Focusing was studied only academically in Germany, lacking practical experience in the field. True to character, Hejo was unsatisfied with this lack of real applicability and traveled to Chicago with befriended colleague, Dieter Mueller, to experience it firsthand. Studying with Gene Gendlin was a natural, even longed for, fit for Hejo, who held Gendlin's work in high regard. It reconnected something in him. It was in Gendlin's work that Hejo had finally found something that resonated with both his philosophical and his psychological passion. It was in this work with Gendlin, 15 years after that difficult decision in Heidelberg, that man and mission met. In his words, "It was really a reunion somehow."
As Hejo reached this point in the story I found myself reflecting on my own studies of Gendlin's philosophy through his book A Process Model. Hejo's life seemed again to be a living example of the native relationality Gendlin speaks of, something which pre-exists separateness, kinds, and categories. Hejo, as a living process, had been instructed to divide himself when he went to university: psychology over here, philosophy over there. Yet he always had an implicit sense of the inherent inner relation between these parts. His pursuits of psychology and philosophy from that point became differentiated into separate kinds of study, one for helping people and one for academic scholarship, until he came to Focusing. Focusing seemed to be a resumptive process for Hejo, a kind of coming home to himself. He smiled with deep satisfaction as he spoke of this return, a kind of aliveness dancing in his eyes.
Kara Hill is a Psychotherapist in Seattle, Washington. She uses Focusing-Oriented Therapy to help clients unwind complex trauma, cultivate self-compassion, and discover their truest self. She also integrates Focusing with parent-coaching. Find Kara at
Board of Trustees
The First European Conference in Focusing
by Anna Karali
It is with great pleasure that we announce that the First European Focusing Conference: Facets of Focusing (May 10 - 14, 2018 to be held in Loutraki, Greece) has attracted an enormously enthusiastic response.
Focusers from all over Europe, but also from Central and North America, Australia and New Zealand will attend. It was fully booked, even before the end of the early bird registration period. In our endeavour to accommodate almost 130 participants, we expanded into two additional hotels. We are deeply grateful for this success, since this Conference is also an opportunity for us to celebrate, in this part of the world, the life of Eugene Gendlin, by gathering and reflecting on the different Facets of Focusing.
This enthusiastic response from our attendees will, hopefully, validate our European movement. It has grown from a dream originally inspired some years ago by a small number of European Certified Coordinators, of bringing together European Focusers for collaboration. We aim to address European societal challenges, beyond language borders and work domains. We feel deeply satisfied by the positive response we have received to this initiative.
To end, here is the conference link for more detailed information.
The Organizing Team
Local Committee
European Committee
Patricia Foster (Greece/UK)
Anna Karali (Greece)
Nikos Kypriotakis (Greece)
Dimitris Portokalis (Greece)
Pavlos Zarogiannis (Greece)
Hejo Feuerstein (Germany)
Maria Emanuela Galanti (MEG) (Italy)
Judy Moore (UK)
Edit Selmeczi (Hungary)
Board of Trustees
10th International Children Focusing Conference
by Emanuela Fonticoli
Emanuela Fonticoli is a Children Focusing Coordinator in Italy. Titled "The Children of Tomorrow," the conference will take place in Rome on October 17-21, 2018. Questo articolo è stato tradotto dalla versione originale italiana da Marcella Calabi, Trainer di Focusing negli Stati Uniti. 
Emanuela Fonticoli
We have come as far as the 10th Conference on Focusing for Children - which is to say that twenty years of work on childrens' sensing is progressing and bringing extraordinary results. The conference will take place in Italy, in the splendid setting of Rome, in the heart of the Eternal City, close to the most important and famous attractions of the Capital, and at a time of year when a summer warmth is still perceptible but softly giving way to autumn.
The title of the conference is "The Children of Tomorrow." It is born of the idea that we are living in the Postmodern Era, begun in the 1980s and characterized by very rapid changes and hyperstimulation, owing to the power of the internet and the development of the digital and communication age. Children born in this era are called digital natives, and we know that their brain works differently from ours. New behaviors and new troubles arise from this, which we adults - parents, educators, and professionals - often do not know how to face or handle.
This new era offers very advanced and rapid technological models that are capable of greatly maturing the cognitive, logical, and deductive capacities. But it leaves the emotional area completely unattended; it remains, in a child, fragile and immature. As a professional I frequently see children who are highly competent but extremely fragile.
What is therefore lacking in our Postmodern Era is a true emotional education, one that would habituate children and adolescents to have more confidence in their own feelings.
Focusing has the honor of holding precisely that objective, namely to welcome a child's feeling without judgment and to support him or her in being able to express it. It can be an extremely valid emotional education, by way of sensing in the body.
Focusing for Children is not only a technique to be utilized when we are with children, but truly a way of being towards others and towards oneself. Learning to respect and embrace the child's developmental process requires that the first child with whom we practice Focusing be our own inner child, who must find his or her own equilibrium before being able to accommodate and accept that of another child.
The conference will be experiential; we will engage in practical exercises and concrete examples so that participants may "understand in their body." Furthermore, the plan is also to open the whole of Saturday to professionals who are curious about the use of Focusing for the children in their everyday work. We know that Focusing is not only a process to be encouraged; it also engenders a particular way of being with each other and so can be a wonderful way to connect diverse professions.
The conference will offer the opportunity to share with each other our experiences with children and to learn new methods and perspectives for improving our work - in professional practice, in Focusing sessions, in school classes, in courses, or simply with our own children at home.
Our goal is for you to have new experiences and acquire new tools to use in your life and professional work, while enjoying the beauty and the possibilities that a city such as Rome can offer. We are sure that this mix of elements will render the conference a success! We are waiting for you.
Board of Trustees
Conciencia Corporal y Discernimiento
Salvador Moreno López
The Institute is finding ways to publish more content in multiple languages. Below, Salvador provides an English abstract of his Spanish article. Please contact us if you are interested in helping us translate articles into any language.
Salvador Moreno López
Abstract: This article describes how to enrich and potentiate decision making and discernment by incorporating a Focusing process at specific moments. It contrasts some common ways of analyzing situations and considers possible decisions related to them. How do we address these problems and decisions from the body consciousness? In the former, dichotomies often seem to force us to choose between ideas and logic, on the one hand, or feelings and intuition, on the other.
The challenge is how to face the complexity of situations and the ambivalence we feel before them, without leaving something out because the very way of deciding leads us to exclude something. The Focusing process is proposed as an alternative to integrate ambivalences and contradictions, feelings and ideas, appraisals and judgments. Additionally, it proposes the compatibility of taking advantage of the body wisdom in the processes of discernment, within some spiritual practices close to the
proposals of Ignatius of Loyola.
Board of Trustees
Focusing with Pain: Embodying Healing
by Beth Mahler
Beth Mahler, LCSW, FOT is in private practice and internationally recognized for providing Focusing Oriented Therapy and Focusing training via live video. She offers help to individuals, couples, and families. As a Certifying Coordinator for The International Focusing Institute, Beth teaches certification training courses, workshops and retreats.  Beth is one of the organizers and presenters of the Follow Your Flow Retreat in beautiful Niagara Falls. She may be reached at [email protected]
Is it possible to think of pain as an opportunity? What about
when something in us is thinking, "Find pain relief now, quick! This hurts and I can't stand the discomfort!" Shelves are lined in pharmacies and grocery stores with over-the-counter pain relieving medications. Currently in the United States - among other countries - there is an opiate epidemic. As the reliance on pain relief from medication intensifies, the lack of a doctor-prescribed dose becomes an increasing threat to the drug-reliant individual. The prescription pain medications Percocet, Oxycodone, and Vicodin are being sold on the streets; in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, the going rate is $35/pill. A pain relief addiction can be expensive, and an addict turns to heroine or crack cocaine, which are cheaper, more lethal alternatives to satisfying the hunger for pain relief. Dangerous numbers of people are falling into the prescription pain relief trap. Across all socioeconomic classes, individuals are becoming dependent and addicted to prescribed pain medications. Big Pharma has a hold on society's wallet, the financial backing of medical professionals, and massive amounts of government research dollars.
Luckily, there is another choice, a less costly and noninvasive option to seek pain relief homeopathically. It heals pain sensations, regardless of its consistency. It's called Focusing with Pain. You can embody healing from the inside out, resourcing yourself with your body's natural pain relieving strengths. Unlike the danger label on a cigarette packet, this is Focusing with Pain's only warning label: Warning: When Focusing with pain, you must slow down and pause to felt sense the present moment pain experience and what your pain wants you to understand. It causes no harm to your biological, psychological, and social wellbeing. To a large majority of people, slowing down in 2018 seems dangerous to their health, and this warning label might seem a threat. I often hear, "How can I slow down, when I can't even keep up with everything I have to do at the pace that I am going." This is a perceived threat! In reality, slowing down can help you progress faster forward in your health and the overall scene of your life.
When Eugene Gendlin discovered Focusing - a way of being with whatever is - he did not eliminate the experience of being with pain. Pain is just one of the many doorways inward to access our body's wisdom. Pain can be excruciatingly uncomfortable physically as well as emotionally. It is difficult to determine the makeup of pain. Is it 90% physical and 10% emotional, or more like a 50-50 even distribution? No matter what kind of pain is being experienced, we longingly search for pain relief. Pain can be all consuming and hijack every ounce of our attention. It can derail us from our tasks of daily living. If time is spent with it, pain can also give us information to understand more clearly, clarify, and find a bodily release which relieves pain naturally.
During a Focusing session with a trained Focusing Oriented Therapist, a Certified Focusing Trainer, or during a free collaborative exchanging Focusing partnership, pain can be located physically in the body's felt sense. A Focuser is guided by their Focusing process to explore the pain. Like a camera that focuses into a field of wild flowers edged by tall trees in the distance, a Focuser might Focus on the overall sense of the pain experience in order to be with the accompanying attitudes or beliefs. With a Focusing attitude of curious and non-judgmental attention, the experience is held and supported. Focuser and listener offer Focus toward the pain as a doorway into the implicit. Like a camera lens that zooms in to a tiny lady bug on a leaf of a large oak tree, a Focuser might zoom in to a sensation of pain. It might feel like a razor blade cutting off the edge of paint between window and molding, and a relieving sensation might emerge, like peeling off the dry paint.
Within this implicit intricacy, the body holds a knowing of its unique experience. As a Focuser listens to the body's experience, he navigates through felt senses as they emerge, identify, and deepen his relationship to pain. A Focuser can discover and discern the constitution of her pain, by connecting and relating to the emotional qualities of the pain, which may be "stuck" or emotionally "frozen." Like the sun shining down to melt the top layer of a frozen river, your focused attention can shine into your implicit intricacy, exposing a river of which you were previously unaware. Once Focusing is learned, it becomes a tool that you can utilize for free. You need some initial training in how to Focus and how to listen inwardly to bodily felt senses. Similar to a wrench, once you learn how to use Focusing, it can be a free homeopathic resource for healing and relieving pain. There are many tools for a healthy Self and Focusing is a very worthwhile tool to add to your toolbox!
I will not minimize the difficulties we all have when being with extreme and intense pain or the coping mechanisms we use to find temporary relief. Focusing can be a tool used in conjunction with pain medications or other pain remedies that serve important and valuable relief purposes.
It is beyond the scope of this article, but I will mention a few of the limitless possibilities that Focusing with Pain can offer you toward pain relief, thereby offsetting some of the need for excessive pain medication. Focusing can explore gentle ways to hold space for pain, creating space around pain where awareness can broaden. Felt sensing questions elicit exploration into "the feeling about the feeling," which is simply an inner dialogue with your present feeling about the pain. As a Focuser, I experience a deeper understanding of that pain. The bodily felt sense begins subtly and is even missed if we do not give our attention to it. However, like most felt senses, pain also begins to attempt to "speak in bodily felt ways." It speaks quietly at first, then louder and louder, until it needs to scream, as when it has felt unheard for too long. The more you begin to immerse your Focusing practice into a willing and open space for pain exploration, the more the shifts and subtle pains will give way to respite and relief between your Focusing practices. By staying present to pain for as long as you are able to pause in its presence, aware and inward, you can transform a new relationship to pain. Like a pebble thrown into a still lake, this transformation can create a ripple effect in a Focuser's body: pain relief, new wisdom, and embodied healing.
Focusing Conversations Series
Listen to conversations with Focusers, hosted by Serge Prengel

In this series, we've had a lot of conversations with people who share their experiences of Focusing. Today we have a conversation with the world's foremost expert on how you focus. And that expert of course, is you. To facilitate this conversation. Serge Prengel will be asking questions and to give you time to participate.

Join this conversation here.

Upcoming Courses and Workshops
April 7-8
Starting October 2018
Taught by Charlotte Howorth
with Joan Klagsbrun & Ruth Rosenblum
April 15
(Focusing Roundtable Series in Italian)
18 aprile
19:00-21:00 orario dell'Europa Centrale
with Tine Swyngedouw &
Doralee Grindler-Katonah
April 30
Bridging Philosophy and Practices
May 18 - 20
New York City
May 23 - July 18
May 24 - Jul 12
Taught by Ruth Hirsch
A Focusing Retreat by Niagara Falls, Canada
June 15 - 17
Workshops for beginners and advanced Focusers
The 2nd Northeast
Focusing-Oriented Therapy Gathering
November 9 - 11
A creative retreat (save the date)
Become a Member
3/2018 Board minutes March, 2018
2/2018 Board minutes February, 2018
1/2018 Board minutes January 2018
This section of the Institute's website has a sortable list of major International Focusing events.
Become a Member
The Membership Committee has created a checklist of member benefits.  Please check it out here.
Become a Member
Ways to Help the Institute
International Volunteers Needed
Volunteers have been at the heart of the Institute since its inception.  Our wonderful  volunteers make up our Board and all our functional committees, support us through teaching online classes, organize conferences and produce media,translate and fundraise, and help with countless little projects to which we feel infinitely indebted.  We would love you to join one of our teams.  Currently, we are looking for additional volunteers for:
  • Translating our communications into your native language;
  • Editing our website in your native language;
  • Producing and curating media for our website and social media;
  • Copyediting articles that are submitted to our newsletter;
  • Creating guided Focusing recordings.
Please contact us to see how you can help!
We are looking for images to use on our website and for marketing.
Please share your images of:
  • Focusing events
  • People engaged in the practice of Focusing in various moods: reflective, happy, deep....
  • Images that "evoke a felt sense."
By uploading your images, you guarantee that the image has open use via Creative Commons or you are the creator of the image, you have obtained permission from anyone who is clearly represented in it to share it with us, and agree to release copyright to The International Focusing Institute for marketing purposes. Please send images to [email protected].
We are a very international organization and it is extremely
meaningful when we can be together.  Frequently, however, members of our community cannot attend Institute events because in addition to the cost of the event, they have very high air fares.  If you have air miles that you are willing to donate, please contact us.  Your air miles could be used to help the volunteer members of the Board and the International Leadership Council to attend their face-to-face meeting, or to help someone being certified to attend the Weeklong.  Please help give someone the chance for these meaningful connections! Contact Sherrie Lynne at [email protected].
Have you considered remembering the Institute in your will?  Leaving a bequest can be a way to continue to promote Focusing well into the future.  Please contact us if you are willing to do this or have done so already. Thank you!
Discussion Lists

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