Skip to main content

September 2017

Note From Catherine
Dear friends,
Thank you to everyone who participated in the memorial for Gene by attending in person or online, speaking or helping to organize the day and seeing that it ran smoothly.  One person commented to me that the day felt "Gene-worthy."  A report on the memorial and a link to the recording can be found in an article in this newsletter.
As we go forward without him, I hope that the Institute will continue to function in a "Gene-worthy" way.  That means, perhaps counter-intuitively, making it our own, allowing what is new to emerge, and seeking to thaw out things when they have a tendency to become frozen.  Key to our work is to distinguish between fundamental principles which we want to steadfastly maintain, versus what we might hold onto out of unexamined anxiety.  When the Board and the International Leadership Council and I were working on the goals for the Strategic Plan (found at, we wrestled with how to articulate such a balance.  It found expression in our third goal, to "Preserve the integrity of Focusing and foster its development."  Having written that, we must then determine what it means to "preserve the integrity of Focusing."   We know that some things are Focusing and some things are not, but how do we find the way to mark that distinction without squelching fresh developments?  It takes discernment, which takes conversation and felt sensing.  Those conversations and felt sensing should be based in an understanding of the philosophy Gene developed over his lifetime, as well as critiques of it and elaborations of it.
There are a number of ways in which The International Focusing Institute is working to achieve the goals articulated in our plan.  One of our immediate priorities is to appropriately honor Gene, to honor and build on his legacy.  This is being done first and foremost by the creation of the Eugene T. Gendlin Center for Research in Experiential Philosophy and Psychology.  The "Gendlin Center" is being spearheaded by a distinguished group of academics and experts in Gene's philosophy.  Dr. Kevin Krycka (member of the Institute's Board) made the formal announcement of this initiative at Gene's memorial service on August 12.  Please note that all those who donate $500 or more during the Center's first year will forever be listed as charter donors, so please consider giving at
A second priority articulated in the Strategic Plan is to consider the best way for the Institute to choose who ought to be Coordinators for the Institute.  The International Leadership Council has been leading a series of conversations among our Coordinators, who are absolutely vital to our functioning as they are the ones who determine whom we certify as Focusing teachers.  The work of Coordinators is key to "preserving the integrity of Focusing and fostering its development."
It's been a rich and rewarding summer, full of the incredible teamwork that Focusers seem especially good at.  I'm thinking not only the memorial, but the Focusing Oriented Therapy conference led beautifully by Helene Brenner and Larry Letich and their great team, and the Focusing Institute Summer School led by Nada Lou and Ann Weiser Cornell, this year with Glenn Fleisch and Tobias von Schulthess, and the exciting first Asia Focusing International Conference in Japan.
A number of cultures celebrate the new year in the autumn.  Indeed, things feel new at the Institute as we continue carrying life and thought forward.
With warm regards,

Catherine Torpey, Executive Director, 
The International Focusing Institute
In this issue:
Memorial for Gene Gendlin
Celebrating FISS
The First Asia Focusing International Conference
A Participant Perspective on the 2017 International FOT Conference
Touched with Wonder
Upcoming Events
Member Benefits
From the TIFI Office
Join Our Discussion Lists
Board of Trustees
We are proud to announce
new members of the Board, and International Leadership Council (ILC)  
Hanspeter Muehlethaler of Switzerland will be joining the Board.  
Claude Missiaen of Belgium will be joining the International Leadership Council.  
There appointments were finalized just prior to publication of this newsletter, so please watch your emails for the formal announcement.  
Welcome aboard, Hanspeter and Claude, and thank you for your willingness to serve!
Board of Trustees
Memorial for Eugene Gendlin
by Ann Weiser Cornell
Over 250 people from all around the world participated in the memorial for Eugene Gendlin, the originator of Focusing, who died on May 1, 2017.
The memorial was held on August 12 at Hebrew Union College in New York City, and was sponsored by The International Focusing Institute. Approximately 120 people attended in person and 130 attended the livestream to the Institute's YouTube channel.
The formal memorial service lasted two hours, anchored by Catherine Torpey.  Live piano was provided by Allison Mickelson.
The candle that burned throughout the ceremony was lit at the start by Gene's caregivers, Nola Sinclair and Aldean Armstrong.  Nola's daughter Allyah read words to accompany the lighting of the candle.  A photo of Gene sat by the candle along with a photo of Mary Hendricks-Gendlin.  
Click the images above for more photos and click here for the memorial livestream recording.
During the afternoon Symposium on Carrying Forward Gene's Legacy, papers by Neil Dunaetz, Yoshiko Kosaka, William Potocnik, and Alessandro Rossi were to be read. They were omitted due to time constraints, but are available here (scroll to middle of page).
The Main Event
by Taj Manley
One of the things I've learned in my many years of attending workshops is that "the main event is not necessarily the main event."  I originally decided to attend FISS 2017 so I could sample two branches of Focusing which I wasn't familiar with: Thinking At the Edge (TAE) and Wholebody Focusing. 
Yes, indeed, it is very special to have intimate access to the excellent quality of teachers FISS offers each year.  The morning whole group attunements were a lovely way to start the day. I took TAE as my primary morning track and thoroughly enjoyed both the content and getting to know Nada Lou, the special being that she is. In the afternoons, doing Playback Theater with Tobias and Wholebody Focusing with Glenn filled in more gaps.  I am already familiar with Ann Weiser Cornell and learn something every time I hear her speak. The evening sessions set a baseline understanding of Focusing, with great topics like "What all branches of Focusing have in common" and a connection to a video with the best of Gene Gendlin.  These were excellent presentations and it was so helpful to have the Q&A sessions afterwards.  I was delighted with the official main event.  But there's more.
When the afterglow fades, what else do I remember fondly?  Late night conversations in the sauna with Focusing enthusiasts.  Early morning walks getting to know fellow students from other parts of the world.  Lingering conversations with students and teachers alike in the dining room. The not-extra extras like yoga and dance movement, scheduled conveniently around the workshop times.   And of course, participating in the joy and "anything goes" Follies on the last evening - a wonderful coming together.
Taking a quiet walk as I waited for my ride home on the beautiful grounds overlooking the Hudson, I asked myself, "What was the main event for me?"  Certainly I appreciate broadening my experience with other branches of Focusing.  I also love doing Focusing exchanges with new folks, and from that, making a new friend.  In fact, there were a number of touchstone conversations that moved me with the power of our connection.  Ahhh, this is the gold.  The opportunity to mingle with a group of people who are aligned with being present and connecting deeply is my main event of the Focusing Institute Summer School.
FISS 2017 and more...
by Nada Lou
WE came back to the beautiful Garrison Institute property on the Hudson River for our 12th Focusing Institute Summer School this August. In each of these 12 years, many features remained the same and yet each has been so very different. The biggest difference is always new participants who discover that there is such a thing as Focusing available to explore and enrich their lives with. Another big difference is that each teacher has brought fresh and evolving Focusing wisdom.
Although the group this year was smaller than 12 years ago, it was as varied as always. We were happy to receive a group of 7 young Chinese students who were not sure till the last minute if their visas were going to be issued on time. They added a lot of fun, variety, translations, and very upbeat participation at Follies night. It was delightful to observe a young couple from South Korea in their discovery of the Western world. Another young couple showed up the first morning dressed in full burka and Saudi Arabian business outfit. As they relaxed with other participants, their formal outfits relaxed too. Participants from Israel, Japan, and Canada were among other mostly US persons.
We were 4 teachers this year: Ann Weiser Cornell, Glenn Fleisch, and Nada Lou presented morning courses. Tobias von Schulthess inspired the whole group on the first afternoon with something novel to FISS: Focusing and Playback Theatre. Every afternoon, he attracted a following for his very impressive combination of art with a social interaction.

Click the video below to watch Nada Lou's 2015 video celebrating a decade of FISS.
10 year celebration
Board of Trustees
The First Asia Focusing International Conference
by Akira Ikemi

Akira Ikemi is the President of the First Asia Focusing International Conference as well as a member of the Institute's International Leadership Council.
The First Asia Focusing International Conference (AFIC) was held in Kobe, Japan from August 25th through August 27th, 2017.  The conference was blessed with an attendance of 287 registered participants. The total number of participants amounted to 313 including translators and volunteer staff.  A sense of excitement gripped the venue located within a shrine in the center of the city of Kobe, as the opening movie and music was unleashed.
One of the reasons why so many people connected with AFIC was because there were "initiators" of AFIC in several countries and regions in the Far East.  They were: Xu Jun in mainland China, Peter Ka Hing Cheung in Hong Kong, Lindsay Chang in Taiwan, Eunsun Joo in Korea, and Akira Ikemi in Japan.  All of these people are Coordinators of The International Focusing Institute.  In addition to participants from these countries, we were delighted to invite David Rome from the USA and welcomed participants from Mexico, Germany, Australia, Israel, Romania, and USA.  We were also happy to receive support from these organizations: The Japanese Association of Humanistic Psychology; Hyogo Society of Clinical Psychologists; the International Focusing Institute; the Kansai Counseling Center; and notably, Japan Focusing Association who celebrated their 20th anniversary at AFIC.  We were also happy to receive grants from several organizations, including the City of Kobe.
There were several special features for this conference.  One of them was ACROSS (Asian Crossings) Mini Workshops, which were held every morning.  Participants were assigned designated seating blocks A to Z.  Each block functioned as a home group, where one workshop took place every day.  At the first workshop was my original exercise called "Crossing with Animals" (ANICRO) where each participant reflected on their sense of living (existence) and expressed this sense by using metaphors of animals.  For example, one person expressed his sense of living as: "I am like an oyster hanging on to a rock among rough waves." The group shared these images, and some used Google Images to assist in sharing if they could not communicate in language.  The second day, we did Kanji (Chinese: Hanzi) Focusing, where members expressed others in the group using Chinese characters.  Metaphors were used for members who do not use Chinese characters.  For example, my experience of the person sitting across from me can be expressed with the character 白, which means "white" but can also mean "innocent", "brightening", "clear", "to confide".  Although Japanese and Chinese do not understand each other's spoken language, they both use characters in their writing, and so do some Koreans. It was an exciting interchange to give one character to each other, which brought smiles, laughter, and appreciation, although we could not communicate in spoken language. Kanji (Hanzi) Focusing was developed by myself with Xu Jun from China.  On the third day, each participant was given a set of coloring pencils and sketched the "weather inside" on a page designated for it in their Proceedings booklet and shared the sketch with each other.  This exercise was developed by Shoji Tsuchie, a Coordinator from Japan.
The outstanding feature of this conference was the 44 presentations.  Each presenter was matched with a "facilitator."  This is conventional practice in academic presentations where the presentation is matched with a "moderator" or "commentator" who is an expert in the same field of research as the presenter.  At AFIC the facilitators also helped translate the presentations.  Facilitators comprised of almost all 34 members of the advisory committee, which included 22 university professors.  Members of the advisory committee were mostly from Japan, with one from Hong Kong and one American living in Hong Kong who is fluent in Japanese. With this framework, rich crossings occurred before the conference even began.  Presenters emailed their presentation outlines or slides to their facilitators and they went over and the material together and discussed how they could be translated and presented. 
The Proceedings booklet of AFIC, which shows ACROSS workshops and presentation abstracts, is still available online on the Program page of our website.
A very sincere "thank you" to all who participated!  Special thanks to all members of the Advisory Committee, and the Organizing Committee who spent so many days and nights planning to make this happen!
Let us meet again in Hangzhou, China in November 2019.
Board of Trustees
A Participant Perspective on the
2017 International FOT Conference
by Beth Mahler
The Garrison Institute has been home to many Focusing events through the years of The International Focusing Institute's growth.  It has provided a comforting, spacious retreat home for thousands of participants over the years for the Focusing Institute Summer School, The Advanced and Certification Weeklong, and numerous visits and talks given by Eugene Gendlin and Mary Hendricks Gendlin.  Hosted by The International Focusing Institute, 83 participants attended the FOT conference from 8 countries.  From these edges of the world we traveled and gathered to envelop ourselves inward, together as a community of Focusing Oriented Therapists.  Curiously separated and yet still attached to our work as therapists and healers, we retreated together as human beings, to learn and further deepen our FOT practice through experiential participation.  The art, math, song, and science of Focusing Oriented Therapy is expressed best when we as providers of this service take the time to deepen into ourselves the humanity in our work.  As Lao Tzu once said, "If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation."  The International FOT Conference gave us a chance to embody our humanity, self-transform, and return to our countries to offer outwardly again the art, math, song, and science of Focusing Oriented Therapy.
How many times have you heard a mom or dad, a teacher or mentor emphatically say: "It just takes practice!"  In the lively energetic beauty of people who attend The International FOT conference, the felt sensing practice is palpable.  I can remember the moment that my heart spoke with another's heart, and yet I have no words to explain it to you.  And yet, every practicing Focuser understands their embodied experience of what I have just explained.  There is something magical about being in a space, making space for yourself, for felt sensing, inward and out toward the community of felt sensors.  This magic happened at The International FOT Conference.  It gave you the taste to say, "I want more of that sweet delicious healthy non calorie magic!"
The FOT conference took place only a few weeks after Gene Gendlin's death.  Gene was remembered in our opening ceremony, and then a memorial service was held, where we shared thoughts and memories of Gene.  To honor all of the times he taught at the Garrison Institute, and to acknowledge that his work lives on, a Kousa dogwood tree has been planted at the Garrison Institute, and will soon have a bench with memorial plaque placed near the tree.
An article about The International FOT Conference would not be complete without an elephant sized THANK YOU, mixed with a colorful rainbow of gratitude to the many contributing volunteers and staff of The International Focusing Institute.  Led by Co-Coordinators Larry Letich and Helene Brenner, together their tapestry of hard work and dedication, carried forward a seamless event which produced a profound, lively, experiential FOT conference, which sent forth 83 FOTs back out to the edges of the world to continue our healing in the world.  Gracias, Grazie, Namaste, Dank Je, Thank You, Until We Meet Again...   
Board of Trustees
by Wang Xiaofang
The Institute is finding ways to publish more content in multiple languages. Below, Wang Xiaofang shares a bit about herself and the context of her Chinese article, which translates as, "Focusing Returns Us to Life."
I am Wang Xiaofang, a 41-year-old Focusing-Oriented Therapist (FOT) from Fujian Province, China and a member of The International Focusing Institute.
Being a psychotherapist, I find that after learning Focusing I have become more sensitive in capturing my feeling when interacting with clients, so that I can empathize with them better. As a therapist, I often clear my own inner space by Focusing, in an effort to become more gentle and compassionate.
In March 2016, I was much enlightened by participating in Japan's Blue Sky Focusing Association, led by Focusing Coordinator Akira Ikemi. Later, Akira, Focusing Coordinator Li Ming, and I worked together to write the essay "The Turned-over Cap - How Meaning Is Created," published in the proceedings of the Japanese Focusing Institute. That experience helped me to further my Focusing learning.
Oftentimes I go to local schools, hospitals, companies, and prisons to hold Focusing demonstration activities. All the people who experienced Focusing were fond of it and surprised to find that "Living can be like this!" I lead local psychotherapists to learn Focusing and have set up a Focusing learners' group; I am also a teaching assistant for a Focusing training class organized by Shanghai Nanjia Psychotherapy Institute. I have learned a lot about teaching Focusing from Xu Jun and Li Ming, both of whom are Focusing Coordinators in China. Meanwhile, the online Focusing experience groups led by myself and another Chinese Focusing trainer achieved exciting results. My article (in Chinese) shares those experiences and results.  We will also be sharing our work at the Asia Focusing International Conference this August. 
Board of Trustees
Touched with Wonder
by Biliana Dearly
I have wondered over-and-over again about the
'Focusing attitude' and the qualities of 'therapeutic presence' and 'therapeutic environment' over all these years of practicing Focusing and psychotherapy. How can I know if I really embody what Gendlin (1981) described as "friendly listening" or what Ann W. Cornell (2002) named "Self-in-Presence"? And if that is the same as Wholebody Grounded Presence that I have learned from Karen Whalen? It sounds simple, but - it is deceptively simple...
Biliana Dearly is a new Certifying Coordinator for the Institute; she shares her bio and mission here
Board of Trustees
Focusing Conversations Series
Listen to conversations with Focusers, hosted by Serge Prengel
Caterina Carta
Caterina and Serge spend a mindful moment as she 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.
Suzanne Noel
Suzanne Noel
Suzanne and Serge explore Suzanne’s experience in dealing with difficult feelings and transforming them.
Beatrice Blake
Beatrice and Serge talk about how to think out of the box: Instead of just relying on linear logic, how we can use all of our resources in a mindful way.

Upcoming Conferences, Retreats and Workshops
September 30 - October 1
Starting February 9, 2018
Taught by Charlotte Howorth, LCSW
October 15-20, 2017
Mercy by the Sea, Madison, Connecticut
October 18 - December 6
April 25 - June 13, 2018
Taught by Ruth Hirsch, MSW, MPH, CMP
7 Friday workshops starting October 27
Taught by Laura Bavalics
Become a Member
8/2017 Eugene Gendlin Memorial Service and afternoon symposia. Watch the video.
8/2017 August 2017 In Focus Newsletter is now on the website.
7/2017 Board minutes July, 2017
6/2017 Board minutes June, 2017
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.

From the TIFI 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 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.  Please help give someone the chance for these meaningful connections! 


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

Join our Discussion Lists!

TIFI sponsors several email discussion lists devoted to Focusing. All are welcome!

Click here to subscribe to our lists.

Support Focusing