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October 2016

Note from Catherine
Dear friends,

I had been very excited about holding our 11th Focusing Institute Summer School (FISS) in Joshua Tree, California, having heard many people describe this desert location as "spiritual." I grew up in the northeastern US, where the land is filled with deciduous trees opening umbrellas of leafy green shade in summer and tapestries of color in autumn. Here, it is only in deepest winter that the terrain feels stark. Our response is to bundle up and run away from it, into warm homes, offices or cars. So I looked forward to the strangeness of stark, hot open terrain.

However, when I first arrived in the Mojave desert, my experience was disappointment. Instead of appearing starkly beautiful, the land struck me as simply barren. The vast open countryside seemed to me just a lonely void (a "sterile promontory," in the words of William Shakespeare), fretted only sparsely with "Joshua trees," which are not trees at all, but tall cacti. My felt sense of it was similar to times in Focusing when I have experienced my inner world as a barren, lifeless expanse of unrelenting absence.

Despite my experience in Focusing that everything inside of me is rich with possibilities, I find that when I encounter profound barrenness inside, I often react with the belief that this time, there really is nothing there; this time, I really am just an empty shell. And it tends to be accompanied by a sense of shame or disdain or even self-hatred.  

Once, many years ago, around Halloween time, during a Focusing session, the image of my inner world came as an empty, clammy-wet inside of a Jack-o'-lantern. I remember at the time how profoundly disturbing I found this image, and yet it was a true representation of my bodily experience.  At that point in my life, I had already been a Focuser for several years and had had the experience of encountering profoundly difficult inner realities. Over the years, I had had the exhilarating experience of shifts which came from staying with those inner realities.  "But not this time," I thought as I sat with the uncomfortable truth of my inner empty Jack-o'-lantern.  "The only thing here," part of me was certain, "is what is missing: the pulp is gone and the seeds are gone and there is nothing of value left inside -- only leftovers no one could ever want, destined to simply rot and decay."  It appeared to me, as did the earth and sky to Hamlet, as "a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors."

My experience of Joshua Tree wasn't accompanied by such harsh moral judgement; but I did feel that there was nothing of worth for me in that landscape.  Until the shift came.  I don't know exactly when the shift in the desert happened; I only know that I noticed it after a day or two.  To my surprise one afternoon, as I was walking up the dusty roadway toward the dining hall, I said to myself, "I love it here."  A shift, indeed!  It was unforced, unexpected, and had the feeling of a little delightful miracle -- like every shift I've ever experienced.  I don't know when the shift happened, but I know why it did: because I had stayed there.  I stayed put.  I simply accepted the desert for the barren wasteland that I had judged it to be, and my non-struggle against that barrenness had allowed for its rich treasures of warm air, open skies and silent mystery to be made known to me.

I had stayed put because I had little choice.  The landscape was simply a reality I had no control over if I wanted to remain at FISS (which I very much did -- not only because it was my job but because it is always one of the best weeks of my life).  I just allowed the desert to be the desert, with or without my good opinion of it, and I stayed with it.

When I encounter barren inner worlds, I often fight them, judge them, hate them, feel morally outraged by them, and judge myself harshly for their very existence.  Focusing experiences have taught me that such nothingness really is something -- and yet I forget.

The day of the inner Jack-o'-lantern, I certainly didn't believe that there was (or even could be) anything of worth inside a cold, clammy, decaying hollow pumpkin.  I was sure no shift could happen with such a hopeless reality, and yet I knew enough to allow the hollow rotting pumpkin to be its hollow rotting self.  The trick, for me, is to value it for itself and not for the anticipated shift.  And yet, what allows me to stay put is being comfortable with my discomfort which makes space for little miracles, like being on a hot, dusty road and hearing myself say, "I love it here."

With warmest regards,

-Catherine Torpey, Executive Director,
The International Focusing Institute
In this issue:
Note from Catherine
Writings From the Edge 
From the Board of Trustees
Focusing Conversations
Membership Committee: Focusing Roundtables
Become a Member
International Leadership Council: New Members
Focusing Institute Summer School
From the TIFI Office
Upcoming Events
Join our Discussion Lists
Writings From the Edge
Writings From the Edge: What Is 
Ali Lufkin, Certified Focusing Professional
Is prior to the labeling of what is.

What is a "tree" prior to a label?

What is "sky" "grass" "earth" "water" before the label arises?

Words are not what-is.

What-is is prior to language.

-Joshua Benavides
Sitting with my focusing partner, I begin to describe a sensation that I experience as if it is in my lower torso, but also extending outward to about eight inches in front of my belly. The sensation has a kind of spinning quality, heavy, round, generating heat. Using my hands to make gestures around my belly, I describe it as full, pushing.

>> Read more
Ali Lufkin is a recently Certified Focusing Professional. She lives in the mountains of Leadville Colorado with her husband (and Focusing partner) George, and her dog Grizzly. Ali is an Episcopal Priest, and she and George are recent 'empty nesters', with two adult daughters. Ali can be reached at [email protected].

This new newsletter section, Writings From the Edge, features submissions by members of the international Focusing community. If you would like to learn more about submission options, contact Scott Will at [email protected].
Board of Trustees
Board of Trustees - Carrying Forward the Tradition
by Kevin Krycka
I had the honor to be at the Person Centered and Experiential Conference and accept Gene's Lifetime Achievement award along with Lynn Preston. About 200 people were in the auditorium, all very excited to hear from Gene who joined us via telephone for the first 20 minutes. Gene was in good form (and humor!), expressing his heart-felt gratitude for the award, and speaking a little about his connection with Carl Rogers, a man he clearly admires.

Lynn and I delivered comments that we thought would speak to the life time of work Gene has given the world. I spoke after Lynn. My talk was titled, "Carrying Forward the Tradition." I focused on Gene's new philosophy that turns upside down the typical, turning us toward generativity on a scale at once intrapersonal, interpersonal, societal, and cultural. I spoke a little about how his philosophy challenged us in the Focusing community too, to see interaction first, carrying forward, and implicit intricacy - three core principles of his philosophy - as a foundation for our therapeutic work and beyond its scope into other disciplines and activities. I closed by talking some about the gift of the Institute and Mary Hendrick's contributions.

As a Board member, I wanted to let the larger person-centered community know that we are dedicated to continue on in Gene's legacy through the Institute's many activities. I believe the audience got the message that even though the founders might leave us, we are on solid ground to keep working and keep his philosophy and focusing practices alive for generations to come.

Learn more about Kevin Krycka and Lynn Preston. You may also visit the New York City Person-Centered Resource Center.

Focusing Conversations
Join us for the Focusing Conversations series, hosted by Serge Prengel!
September: Cynthia Callsen
Window into New York Metro Focusing 
Also: Video of Italian Focuser Caterina Carta
A Gentle Sense of Resilience

Watch this video here
Membership Committee
Focusing Roundtables - a New Program
Sponsored by the Membership Committee  
by Susan Lennox
On behalf of the Membership Committee, I am pleased to announce a new series entitled Focusing Roundtables - a new benefit exclusively for current TIFI members. These small group conversations create a space for informal peer-to-peer explorations with others who share your Focusing-related interests. Roundtables will be in an online videoconference format, allowing the hosts and participants to see and converse freely with one another, and for members from around the world to participate.
We will begin with our inaugural event on October 10th, entitled "Gender Differences in Focusing - A Shared Exploration," hosted by Bruce Nayowith and co-hosted by Bruce Gibbs, Jocelyn Kahn, Andrew MacDonald and Karen Whalen. This Roundtable will allow space to freely explore the many fascinating aspects of gender similarities and differences in Focusing. What have you experienced? What are you curious about?
Just a few possible questions we might explore together are: Do you notice differences in the ways men and women relate to Focusing? As a listener or Focuser, what do you notice when Focusing with a member of the opposite gender in contrast to a member of your own? Do masculine and feminine energies show up differently in Focusing? Have you noticed differences in Focusing style? How does Focusing make room for, or suppress, your receptive, nurturing nature? Your agentic, purposeful, "getting it done" nature?
If these or related questions intrigue you, we hope you will join us for this Roundtable on October 10. Bring your own questions and curiosity! To facilitate informal conversation, registration is limited to 20 members so sign up early.
Susan Lennox
Become a Member


Being a member of The Focusing Institute is one way of staying connected to the International Focusing Community and its latest developments. The Institute is a supportive matrix whose purpose is to help the human community integrate Focusing into its many ways of living and working, and to see to the continued thriving and evolution of Focusing and Focusing teaching.

We organize what has already been done so that people have access to it. We support a thriving philosophical community centered around the Philosophy of the Implicit.


To introduce Focusing to people requires reaching out on many levels: publicity; archiving resources; bringing focusing into schools, medicine, churches, businesses and other areas. As Focusing is introduced in these areas, we connect people who need to know about each other worldwide. Membership is a way to support our work, and, as we are a non-profit organization, your contributions may be tax deductible.


Each member of our International Community is special to us. We deeply appreciate that you care enough about this work we are doing together to put some of your life energy into it, whether in the form of training, personal development, organizing projects, money or in other ways.


Learn more here. 

International Leadership Council -
Introducing New Members
In June of this year two ILC members, Barbara McGavin and Marine de Freminville, finished their three-years of service on the committee, and two new members were voted to serve: Dr. Roberto Larios, and Dr. Donata Schoeller. We hope you will join us in welcoming Dr. Schoeller and Dr. Larios to the International Leadership Council. 
Dr. Roberto Larios is a General Surgeon, holds a Masters in Psychotherapy, and is a Focusing-Oriented Therapist in Guadalajara, Mexico. He specializes in substance abuse work, Non-Violent Communication, and work with couples. He is a Coordinator-in-Training in Wholebody Focusing, and teaches Focusing to individuals and groups. Dr. Larios also provides supervision to students of psychotherapy.

Dr. Donata Schoeller holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Zurich, and is an author and widely-sought-after professor in Europe and the United States. She has studied Focusing since 2004 in Zurich, Ticino and New York, including TAE with Gene Gendlin. In addition to many other trainings, she has also studied the Elicitation Method with Prof. Petitmengin in Paris since 2013. She now teaches and co-teaches Focusing workshops. She also practices the method with colleagues in the natural sciences and humanities, and has taught the method at the University of Zurich, the ETH, the University of Chicago, DePaul University, and the University of Iceland. Besides her academic work and workshops, she accompanies students in their pursuit to find a more embodied and integrative approach to their research projects. 

The International Leadership Council works in collaboration with the TFI Board in order to broaden the group of people at the center of direction setting. The Leadership Council is a fluid group that can reflect the full wisdom and evolve to meet the needs of the worldwide Focusing community. You can learn more about the work of the ILC here.
Focusing Institute Summer School - in the desert
Joshua Tree, California, USA

Our Eleventh Annual FISS was enriched by several novelties.
One of them was location that was a new experience for all of us. Joshua Tree Retreat Centre in California is also part of Mojave Desert. Living for a week inside this natural environment brought a lot of different experiences for everybody who decided to take this opportunity. The presence of dry heat, flora and fauna was very palpable all the time of our stay. Our visit to Joshua Tree National Park happened on the same day as 100th Anniversary of this National Park. It was very impressive and deeply spiritual experience to walk the dry land and be surrounded by Joshua trees, shrubs, other trees and beautiful rock formations. Sunsets were magnificent inspiration supporting our work and messages.
Besides the always-refreshed courses given by the FISS teaching team Ann Weiser Cornell, Nada Lou and René Veugelers, we invited new teachers who presented two new courses. Laury Rappaport presented, "Focusing and Expressive Arts," and Soti Grafanaki and William Hernández presented "Living the Path of Authenticity... the Pause" program. A ll the courses were well received by everybody.
Our afternoon offerings were diverse, exciting and uplifting: Radical Self-Compassion, Transforming Your Inner Critic, Felt Sense Literacy, Mindfulness and Expressive Art, Exploring Your Personal Collage, Dreams Open Doors to Focusing, The Child's Inner voice, Pausing and Connecting in Nature -- to mention just a few. These shorter presentations were very well attended and popular. The hardest decision for participants was how not to miss any of them.
We also offered the always-popular Agora afternoon, when any participant who wished to share their way of using Focusing and ... could say something about it to others. Many interesting subjects gave additional variety of how Focusing can be really diverse.
Each morning began with Jillian Woodford's leadership in yoga, and in the afternoon Marieke Hoeve offering "Playful Movement through Pulsing." After lunch in the early afternoon participants could choose how to spend this very hot time of the day - swimming in the lovely pool, arranging Focusing partnerships, having siestas in their air-conditioned lodging or gathered for socializing in the shade of the dining area.
Food! The catering service that was provided for us was a highlight for almost everybody. Tasty food, variety of platters, visual presentation of dishes - and the outstandingly friendly cooking staff was highly-appreciated and thanked for their culinary wonders.
Evenings were filled with rich programs. One of them Ann and Nada familiarized participants with several of Gendlin's philosophical concepts, and continued to show how the important formula of Diversity allowed development of different methods, styles and the "Worlds of Focusing."
Fr. Peter Campbell was unfortunately not able to attend FISS personally, but by a crystal clear online connection we spent a ninety minutes listening to his powerful presentation, "What is the Body's Role in Spiritual Development?" Many participants were able to engage in conversation with Fr. Pete and have their questions answered by him.
The "Evening with Gene through many DVD clips" provided for many first visual experience of Gene Gendlin. These clips invited and supported conversations and interesting questions.
The Follies, the FISS talent night, as usual brought surprise and delight with so many high-quality performers. We were lucky to have a large number of professional musicians and authors who shared their talents. It is always gratifying to see brave new performers who used the evening for their "first time" public appearance using special gifts they have.

Of course, books and DVDs were available for purchase throughout the week.
I want to thank all the staff that was involved in this special FISS year of novelty, experiment, and excitement. Special thanks to TIFI staff: Executive Director Catherine Torpey, Elizabeth Cantor, Rita Kirsch and all the assistants for their hard work and skilled contributions.
FISS is a major annual event for The International Focusing Institute to which we teachers donate our time. I want to thank my teaching teammates Ann Weiser Cornell, René Veugelers, Laury Rappaport, William Hernández and Soti Grafanaki for all the time, energy and dedication to make this event successful and meaningful.
Nada Lou
for the FISS team

From the TFI Office

Translation and Interpretation


It is important to us to have as many of our communications as possible translated into as many languages as possible.  If you are willing to translate written materials from English into your native language, please contact us at [email protected] and let us know your language, and how much time you can volunteer for this valuable task.

It is also important to us to be able to offer interpretation (spoken) when we have events such as the Summer School (FISS) and the Advanced and Certification Weeklong.  When we have four or more people needing interpretation, we pay for an interpreter.  Please contact us if you would be willing to be an interpreter, or if you know of someone who you believe would do this well.

Air Miles

We are a very international organization and it is extremely meaningful when we can be together.  Frequently, however, members of our community cannot attend Focusing 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 airmiles could be used to help members of the Board of Trustees and the International Leadership Council to attend their face-to-face meeting, or to help someone being certified to attend the Weeklong, or for any Focuser to attend FISS (the Focusing Institute Summer School).  Please help give someone the chance for these meaningful connections! 

Upcoming Conferences, Retreats and Workshops
Focusing Roundtables:
Gender Differences in Focusing - A Shared Exploration

Part of a new series for TIFI members, this free online conversation is hosted by Bruce Nayowith and co-hosts Bruce Gibbs, Jocelyn Kahn, Andrew MacDonald and Karen Whalen on Monday, October 10, 2016.
Leslie Ellis headshot
Living the Dream

Saturday, October 22, 2016 from 12 to 2 pm

Interactive Online Class facilitated by Leslie Ellis. Part of the Focusing Highlights Series of pay-what-you-can classes.
Focusing Basics An 8-week interactive online course for beginning Focusers starting October 26, 2016.
Advanced Focusing Training An 8-week intermediate interactive online course starting January 17, 2016.

Taught by Ruth Hirsch, MSW, MPH, CMP
Embracing Mystery:
Healing the Trauma Body and Restoring Connection

A New York City Workshop with Shaun Phillips on Friday evening, January 20, 2017 6-9 PM EST
The 9th Children and Focusing Conference
Athens, Greece from October 26 - 30, 2016
The 9th Children & Focusing Conference will take place in the surroundings of Athens, by the sea-side, at Cabo Verde Boutique Hotel, Mati.
4th International Conference on Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapies
June 22-25, 2017 at The Garrison Institute, Garrison NY.



9/2016  The World Day of Listening, planned for October 21, 2016, is an event for those who have a commitment to practices of active listening and for anyone who sees the potential in Listening to help change our world. We are a diverse network of individuals and organisations from around the globe and we hope you will join us! Events will be organised locally - from street listening to more structured listening circles, how ever you see fit to organise as local Listeners. Guidelines in many languages are available on FaceBook 


9/2016  Conference update from the TIFI Membership Committee: A Flavour of Workshops Presented at the International Focusing Conference, Cambridge, UK, July 2016


9/2016  Free Download of Focusing In Community: How To Start A Listening and Focusing Support Group by Dr. Kathy McGuire


9/2016  Free Download of Focusing en Comunidad Español: Focusing en Comunidad: Como Empezar Un Grupo De Apoyo De Escucha Y Focusing by Dr. Kathy McGuire. Trans. by Agnes Rodriguez


9/2016  イン・フォーカス July 2016 Japanese In Focus Newsletter


9/2016 The September conversation is with Cynthia Callsen. It is a window into New York Metro Focusing (NYMF). This is part of the "conversations" series hosted by Serge Prengel which you can access from the "Felt Community" menu or from Listen to audio file  


9/2016 "A gentle sense of resilience." Video (offsite) of a conversation with Italian Focuser, Caterina Carta and Serge Prengel. Caterina reflects on flowing with life and dealing with life's challenges, her illness and chemo, what we mean by meaning, and what it's like to feel a sense of connection to something larger.


9/2016 Country summaries from the 27th International Focusing Conference.


9/2016 Board minutes August, 2016


8/2016 Board minutes July, 2016


7/2016 Gene Gendlin was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 12th World Association for Person Centered & Experiential Psychotherapy & Counseling conference (WAPCEPC). He was also be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy.


7/2016 Board minutes May and June, 2016


7/2016 July 2016 In Focus Newsletter is now on the website.


7/2016 The July conversation is with Sophie Glikson Cahen and Marina Strauss. It is about "What Makes Your Heart Sing." This is part of the "conversations" series hosted by Serge Prengel which you can access from the "Felt Community" menu or from Listen to audio file 


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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