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Grounded in the person-centered approach to treatment, focusing therapy holds that individuals possess within themselves the answers they are seeking and is founded on the concept that individuals know themselves better than a therapist could ever hope to. This “knowing” refers to the knowledge of the body (the body’s awareness), however, not the knowledge of the thinking brain. In focusing therapy, therapist and person in treatment work to reaffirm the bodily knowledge a person has and allow the body to steer a person within future situations.
Also influencing the approach is the concept that change is more than a verbal process. Often, the concepts and ideas addressed in therapy are emotions and feelings, things that often cannot be easily put into words. Though a person might be easily aware of these emotions, thoughts, and behaviors on a surface level of awareness, and may even experience some level of insight into them, focusing therapy aims to help them target the deeper “felt” sense. Practitioners of the approach believe that those who are able to access and target this felt sense may be better able to achieve results in therapy, work through the issues concerning them, and produce physical change in the body through the release of chronic tension.
Focusing therapy is described by approach leaders as a living event—it varies in complexity, from person to person and from session to session. Thus, therapists do not typically follow a specific or formal structure when offering focusing therapy, and a session may have no agenda other than where the person in therapy leads. Focusing therapy can be offered in a step-by-step, structured format, however, and this may be the case.
Developed by Eugene T. Gendlin
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