Church Window – St Petersburg, Florence
Photo by Leonard Grossman (Focusing friend of Bebe Simon)

New TAE Groups  2017
TAE Study Group: Mondays 9:30-10:30  Pacific time bi-weekly)
TAE Practice Group: Tuesdays 12:30 – 1:30 pm Pacific time weekly)
TAE ‘Project Group’: next meeting TBA

* Inspirations from Mary Jennings article
* Writings by Gene * Film with Gene and Mary
Review Step 0 formulated by Kye Nelson
Review Steps 1–5 Words from the felt sense
Review Steps 6–8 Facets
Review Steps 9–14 Theory
Review Steps 0–14  Theory continuing

Thinking At the Edge

Kye Nelson’s formulation for Step 0
  • Thinking Fundamentally: Kye Nelson’s formulation of in-depth, 14-step TAE, includes instructions for “step 0”, which helps to position a thinker where they are likely to have a fundamental contribution to make in their field. This formulation of TAE centers on practical knowhow that ordinary people can use to create theories with “magnetism”,
Level #1, Step 1 – Let a felt sense form

Level #1, Step 1 – Let a felt sense form 

• Choose something you care about, something you are tracking but cannot well say. It needs to be in a field in which you are knowledgeable and experienced. Do not start with a question, but with something that you ‘know.’

• Let yourself sense the whole felt sense of this. What in this do you ‘know’ and wish to articulate? Sense what is live for you in it. And within this, again, what is the live point for you in it? When you sense this central crux, write a single rough sentence. • You need a specific example, an event that actually happened, which exemplifies your felt sense of knowing.

Level #1, Step 2 – Non-logical

 Level #1, Step 2  – Non-logical

• What is new about something can seem quite illogical. This may be the most valuable part. Please assure yourself that you are not dropping this out.

• To help you to hold on to what seems illogical, you can write a paradoxical sentence, for example something is ‘x’ and also not ‘x’. If this is not helpful, skip this step.

Level #1, Step 3 – No words fit

Level #1, Step 3 – No words fit

• If you have made a paradox in Step 2 , be

sure both sides are now included within the

word or phrase.

• Building theory is partly to communicate.

Therefore we consider the public meanings

of the words. If you are saying something

new, none of the words in their usual

meanings will say it exactly.

• Take the underlined key word (or phrase)

which carries your central meaning. Think of its usual public meaning. Look it up in the dictionary if you like. You recognize, ‘that’s not what I meant’.

• Let a second word come from the felt sense to say what you do mean. Make sure it is not just a synonym, but a word with a somewhat different meaning.

• When you consider its public meaning, you see that the second word does not fit either.

• Let a third word come from the felt sense. Again its public meaning is not what you meant.

• Now you have written down the three words and their ordinary definitions.

• No word fits. None should, if this is new.

Level #1, Step 4 – Any word fits

Level #1, Step 4 – Any word fits

• You are now keenly aware that these three words do not say what you mean. Take the first word and insist that in this sentence it does speak from your felt sense. The sentence can make the word change. This time, do not give up your sense. Do not let the word say what it usually says. Wait until you feel this whole sentence speaking from your felt sense, in a way, even though most people might not understand it so.

• Go back and forth between your meaning

and the usual meaning, until both have become familiar to you.

• So far all this was private, just inside you.

• Now for each word write a sentence to say what that word means in this sentence when it speaks from your felt sense.

• Now you have three sentences, one for what each of the three words means when it speaks from your felt sense.

Level #1, Step 5 – Expanding what each word brings out by writing fresh linguistically unusual sentences

Level #1, Step 5 – Expanding what each word brings out by writing fresh linguistically unusual sentences

• Check your three sentences from Step 4. If you already have fresh new phrases, very different from a usual use of words, you can skip this step.

• Check whether you used any major public words. If so make fresh phrases to replace those.

• Let your felt sense express itself into fresh language. Use sentences that make no sense unless they are understood as you mean them. If you let your felt sense speak directly, something linguistically unusual can come.

• Here are examples of linguistically unusual sentences: ‘Knowing the rules is a container from which new ways open’. ‘Definitions stop cellular growth’. ‘Behavior shows something it has’.

• List the separable items that occur in these sentences. If this step went well, each item says something from your original felt sense.

• Make one long string of these three meanings of the three words (omitting the words themselves). Fit this long string in where the underlined key word appeared in your original sentence.

• Play with the grammar and order, and eliminate excess words until you have a sentence you like. Now you have a sentence with more elaboration to say what you are tracking.

Level #2, Step 6 – Collect Facets

Level #2, Step 6 – Collect Facets

• A facet does not need to illustrate all of your felt sense. Include anything that relates to the felt sense of the ‘knowing’ you are tracking. Include times when it came up, what someone said that related to it, any incidents that relate to it, even if you cannot tell yourself why they are relevant. Do not omit odd or private things such as ‘the time the dentist said . . .’

• Do not include general ideas or metaphors. (It isn’t an actual example to say ‘it’s like heating something to agitate it’. It could be an example, if you say ‘that time when I heated the . . .’ ) Choose and write three instances that actually happened.

• Any instance is superior to a higher order generalization When you have a generalization, you only have it. An instance has specificity. Any real life event has complex structure. It can answer a question.

Level #2, Step 7 – Each facet contributes more detailed structure

Level #2, Step 7 – Each facet contributes more detailed structure

• Ask yourself in what way the facet is an example of what you are trying to articulate. All real events have ‘structural details’ that don’t appear when we generalize. In an actual experience the relationships you are tracking have specific characteristics. Let each facet give you one new elaboration, a specific pattern which you did not have before. The ‘structural detail’ need not be central to your felt sense, but don’t adopt anything that somehow lessens your felt sense.

Level #2, Step 8 – Crossing the facets

Crossing the facets

• You might already have done this. ‘Crossing’ means trying out whether you can attribute to one what is true of the other. When the facets do not contain the whole central thing, looking at each through the other may expand them and give you what is additional structure for your central thing. Look at each through the other.

Level #2, Step 9 – Write freely

Write freely

• This is a free space to write anything you want.

Level #2, Step 10 – Choose three terms and logically link them

Level #2, Step 10 – Choose three terms and logically link them

• These three terms are your major notions. A term can be one word or a whole phrase. Each should bring a whole cluster along with it. Choose from among all the new entities you have differentiated.

• If you imagine a triangle connecting the three terms, is your felt sense somewhere within the triangle?

• Any other important things you may have thought of on the way, can wait until a later step. This step concerns only the central nucleus. Later you will expand it to cover more and more.

• If you are using a phrase as a term, keep the phrase the same for every occurrence of that term from now on.

• Now define ‘A’ by using the second term, ‘B’, to tell about ‘A’. This is a formula: A = B. Also define ‘A’ by using ‘C’: A = C. Write each equation out as a formula, even though you don’t yet know what it might mean.

• The = sign means ‘is’ or ‘are’. In a new sentence, where the = sign appears, write the word ‘is’ or ‘are’. It means that you are saying that what is on the left side is (amounts to, can actually be) what is on the right side.

• If the sentence is grammatical and true, and speaks from your felt sense, let it stand. If not, keep the word ‘is’ (or ‘are’) and add or change whatever you need on either side, so that the assertion is true and also speaks from your felt sense. If it seems too inclusive, you can say ‘some,’ ‘one kind’ ‘is at least’.

• You will need to return to your felt sense to find what you need to do to the sentence to make it true.

• If you added something to ‘A’ in the first sentence, you need to keep that in ‘A’ also in the second sentence.

• Now you have one true sentence that connects ‘A’ and ‘B’, and one that connects ‘A’ and ‘C’.

Level #3, Step 11 – Inherency & reversal

Level #3, Step 11 –  Inherency & reversal 


• Since ‘A’ and ‘B’ came from one felt sense, it will be the case that ‘A’ is inherently ‘B’, not only that it happens to be ‘B’.

• This requires entering into the felt sense behind the two terms, so that you discover what each inherently is, so that it is already the other. Be sure that the illogical crux remains in the connections between the two. There has to be an ‘Aha’ about this. Of course! ‘A’ always was nothing but the sort of thing that has to be ‘B’.

• Example ‘A’ (Free people) are ‘B’ (creative). This may be observably so. But, how is it inherently so? Human nature is inherently the sort of thing that is creative (changes the environment, makes new things), and to be free is to develop in accord with one’s own nature. So, of course.


• Reversal means defining the big thing by your new pattern. Anything that includes your ‘A’ (or ‘B’ or ‘C’) has in fact already itself this more complex nature which made it possible for ‘A’ to happen in them. Do not fit your new thing under an unchanged wider category.

• Example: The ordinary sentence was: ‘Take the dream with you into the day’. This leaves ‘the day’ in its unchanged meaning; only the dream brings the felt sense. Reversal: ‘Take the day with you into the dream’. This changes ‘the day’ so that it is re-understood from the nature of dreams. We get a new insight into what daily human life is.

• The reversal consists in defining the larger thing in terms of the new complex patterning of the smaller thing.

• If inherency or reversal gave you anything new, rewrite your main ‘A’ is ‘B’ and ‘A’ is ‘C’ sentences, reordering or reorganizing them so that they take account of the inherency and/or the reversal.

Level #3, Step 12 – The nucleus of your theory generates sentences

Level #3, Step 12 – The nucleus of your theory generates sentences

• Connect two of your terms. Leave other details for later. You might have five kinds of details: Within ‘A’. Within ‘B’. Within ‘C’. Between ‘A’ and ‘B’. Select all details which fall within your terms, or between ‘A’ and ‘C’.

• Draw a box around this. Consider it the nucleus of your theory. From now on, do not change anything within the box unless you discover a terrible mistake. Now only new additions and elaborations follow. Write them under the box.

• By substituting a detail in for a main term, you can generate a very large number of new sentences. Pick the details that seem most important to you, and put one of them into one of your two sentences instead of the term ‘A’, of ‘B’, or ‘C’, to generate a new sentence.

• When a new sentence seems quite wild or false, stay with it and pinpoint what is wrong with it, so that you can change the sentence to make it true without losing what was new and wild about it. Apply inherency and reversal where possible.

• For example, it may seem both ungrammatical and false to say that some detail from a very odd instance ‘is’ ‘B’. But

it can be exciting to rethink the nature of ‘B’. Might ‘B’ have this odd patterning? How might that be true of ‘B’? Then — aha! — it might suddenly emerge for you that this is indeed so! It might tell us more about the nature of ‘B’ than we knew before.

• By substituting you can make a great many logically correct new sentences which you can adjust according to the felt sense underneath them You become able to say more and more.

Level #3, Step 13 – Large applications

Level #3, Step 13 – Large applications

• What would come, if we apply just your pattern (not what it is about) to human nature, society, the state, groups, interpersonal relations, the physical sciences, truth, beauty, ethics, writing, sexuality, language, — any large idea?

• We know that the pattern you have articulated can happen in human experience. The pattern probably does not yet exist in the common language of our society. One tends to think about these Big Things with very poor simplistic spatial patterns. Therefore it is likely that your new pattern can bring out something important from such Big Things. These large things are unclear accumulations of much meaning and experience. The usual concepts about them are much poorer. Looking at a large thing through your theory, surely some aspect of it will cross and reveal some way in which the large thing truly has, or should have, the pattern of your theory.

• You can modestly limit your claim by saying ‘One aspect of’ or ‘one kind of’ the large thing has (or should have) the patterning of your theory. Do not let fixed definitions or old ways of thinking limit what can be said about these large things. By applying your model, something new and further can leap out at you from all that you know of such a large thing. Although it can say something true, this is largely a playful move unless you happen to be an expert on the given topic. Then you could develop it.

Level #3,Step 14 – Elaborate your theory in your original area of interest

Level #3,Step 14 – Elaborate your theory in your original area of interest

• You can build the structure of your theory into any topic in your field. This is the serious development of your theory. It may continue for years. You can derive one or

more new terms for the topic when it acquires the specificity that the rest of your theory can give it. In this way the theory can develop and elaborate itself indefinitely within your field.

• If you logically derive a sentence which does not seem true, go more deeply into your felt sense so that you can modify the assertion until it seems true. Introduce additional distinctions.

• Also if you add new distinctions to your theory where it keeps wanting them, then you may realize that you have derived certain topics in your field.

• People sometimes don’t value their theory because they feel that it ‘must be’ what some older existing theory ‘really means’, if correctly understood. But the old theory alone does not give people this precise way. You are redefining its old terms with your precise concepts to give them this new precision.

• Your theory can be entirely new. We do not need to be afraid of new theories. We need them.

• The function of a theory is social. Being able to speak precisely about something lets us build it into the world in which we live.


Course Resources

Online Interactive Class Forum

Included in the resources available for this course is an online interactive forum

Continuing Education Credits

if you wish to have Credits  let us know prior to the first class.

Please let us  know if you wish to have credits from CCPA or CPCA  or a letter for your organization:

  • Continuing Education Credits (CEC) awarded by The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA)
  • Professional Development Hours (PDH) awarded by The Canadian Professional Counsellors Association (CPCA)

Description of Thinking At the Edge (TAE) & Resources from The Focusing Institute

Thinking At the Edge (TAE), “like Focusing, is a practice developed from the Philosophy of the Implicit. It is a set of exact steps to develop a fresh use of language”.

Thinking At the Edge (TAE), like Focusing, is a practice developed from the Philosophy of the Implicit.

It is a set of exact steps to develop a fresh use of language and a new kind of theory to speak from something in one’s field which one knows but has not been able to say or write.  This is a way to say something that can restructure the basic terms and practices in a field, rather than only being able to say what fits the current viewpoint.

Current science, social policy and human relations tend to exclude the intricacy of the individual’s experience. TAE is a way to think and speak about our world and ourselves by generating terms from a “felt sense”.  Such terms formulate experiential intricacy, rather than turning everything we think about into externally viewed objects.  Language and concepts that emerge directly from experience can point to aspects of experience that cannot otherwise be formulated.

Video Thinking at the Edge with Mary Hendricks and Gene Gendlin

About this video and more TAE videos …

Additional TAE resources

Grassroots Introduction to Thinking at the Edge Manual
This Manual is designed to provide guidance for working on your own TAE projects. It follows closely material presented on the “TAE in 14 Steps” video tapes.

TAE in 14 Steps DVDs
Thinking At The Edge in 14 Steps (2002) DVD #1 (121 minutes) and DVD #2 (114 minutes)  with Eugene T. Gendlin Ph.D.  “You need to stand again in your own experiencing … in your own felt ongoingness, which is that intricate complexity inside of life … to put into the world what hasn’t been said yet that you are carrying from your particular experience.”

Thinking Freshly from Experiencing DVDs
How Gendlin’s Philosophy of the Implicit helps you Think at the Edge with Eugene T.Gendlin Ph.D. and Nada Lou. In this two-part DVD, you will have the opportunity not only to follow the Thinking at the Edge practice step by step, but to hear many of The Philosophy of the Implicit (POI) concepts explained by its creator and originator Dr. Gene Gendlin in refined and accessible ways. Set includes 2 DVD’s.

Thinking Freshly from Experiencing Transcript

German TAE DVD Video: Denken wo worte noch fehlen – TAE German

Qualitative research with TAE steps. Thinking at the edge: Theory and Applicationsby  Satoko Tokumaru (translated into English by Mariyo Kida). Hiroshima: Keisuisha. ISBN: ISBN 978-4-86327-145-6 C3011. (2011)

Kye Nelson’s Thinking Fundamentally: including "step 0"

  • Thinking Fundamentally: Kye Nelson’s formulation of in-depth, 14-step TAE, includes instructions for “step 0”, which helps to position a thinker where they are likely to have a fundamental contribution to make in their field. This formulation of TAE centers on practical knowhow that ordinary people can use to create theories with “magnetism”,

The Tricycle Effect How to think further with focusing by Mary Jennings

The Tricycle Effect
How to think further with focusing
by Mary Jennings
Note from Katarina:  Here is the story given to us by Mary Jennings for a teleconference we hosted in March 2009, and in November 2009 the story was published by Ann Weiser Cornell in ‘The Focusing Connection’.   Click this link The Tricycle Effect for our study page with a few highlights and the section headings to further our learning and illustrate the TAE process.  As with many pages on our site you can leave a reply and begin a discussion.  Here are direct links to each section of our study page:

The Tricycle Effect How to think further with focusing by Mary Jennings, first written in 2007

Section Headings:

A kind of patience

From private to public

Lots of instances

Expanding the concept

Significant fleeting encounters

The Tricycle Effect

Changed concept, changed way of living

The power of focusing


Introduction to “Thinking At the Edge” (TAE) By Eugene Gendlin

TAE Steps from Folio 2000-2004

Focusing with Eugene Gendlin Ph.D, (Utube clip including Chinese subtitles and transcript)

Nada Lou’s Utube clip: Focusing with Eugene Gendlin Ph.D, with Chinese subtitles. Transcript to Chinese for this clip was contributed with gratitude by Henry Chen and Li Ming.   Link:

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