Focusing at Conference on Mental Health & Social Media University of British Columbia, July 10, 2010

Notes from Katarina Halm

Twelve people came at the beginning.
New people joined in as we went along.
Others stopped by to listen for a while throughout the time of our presentation.
Eighteen people were with us by the end.

We covered the program listed below, referring to it as we developed a sense of flow of the whole group, with time for each person to contribute.

Focusing and Natural Process Action Steps

  1. The tale of Bradley the Engineer: how we learn to recognize our own best next steps.
  2. Focusing and Change: allowing growth to emerge from “abiding with” our experience.
  3. Group exercise: discovering Focusing’s famous Felt Sense.

We included lots of sensing and reflecting. There were several turns for each person throughout the forty five minute main part of the program.

‘Marcella was right there in each moment, delighting in bringing Focusing to the second annual Mental Health Camp which she helped to create with the organizer Isabella Mori.

At the time,’Marcella was in the middle of her training to teach Focusing. Focusing came so naturally to ‘Marcella! She appreciated the essence of “going as slowly as the slowest in you wishes to go” (Ann Weiser Cornell). Together  ‘Marcella and I held a climate of safety and trust in the process of each person and the group as a whole.

My talk drew on Eugene Gendlin’s two books “A Process Model”, “Focusing Oriented Psychotherapy”, his 1964 article “A Theory of Personality Change”, and Margaret Warner’s work on “Fragile Process”. Included were experiential exercises and lots of time for questions from the participants.

Several people who had been listening and observing from around the edges of our main group, came to look at the ten coloured posters I had stretched along the wide wall underneath a winding staircase with dinosaur skeletons suspended from above. Some enjoyed the two page handout including the sections headings and 24 new terms in Gendlin’s 1964 article “Theory of Personality Change.”

By the conclusion of the presentation we had covered the programme in depth. People responded to every aspect, bringing their felt senses alive, sharing from their hearts, deeply immersing in interested questions about Gendlin’s Focusing theory.

There was a furor of excitement when someone asked to know more about “implicit functioning!”

Two people were especially interested in the crossing of Gendlin’s “Theory of Personality Change” with Jack Gibb’s “Climate of Trust Formation” (a reference given to our Process Model group by Rob Parker during his June 2010 seminars). We looked deeper into this crossing after the main talk.

Marcella and I were touched by the enthusiasm and trust our little group developed so quickly, and how new people joined in along the way. As part of the full day program there was a “quiet room” where people could rest and renew themselves, and be listened to by Focusing volunteers.

Here is a link describing the conference:

Focusing and Process Model Resources:

Gibb, Jack R. How groups can function with implicit instead of explicit rules.

Gendlin, E.T. (1964). A theory of personality change. In P. Worchel & D. Byrne (eds.), Personality change, pp. 100-148. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Parker, Robert

Warner, Margaret S. Fragile process