By , June 3, 2008 10:44 am


Below, from the manual, Focusing In Community: How To Start A Listening/Focusing Support Group, Chapter Three, is a simple introduction to the Focused Listening skills used by the Listener while the other person in a Partnership Turn is using Intuitive Focusing. The complete Chapter Three download gives very specific instructions for trying out the Four Basic Kinds of Response outlined below:

The following are the most “simple” instructions I could come up with to help people start trying the new way of relating I call “Focused Listening”. The list of Suggested Readings at the end of the Chapter directs you to some other people’s attempts at explaining empathic, or reflective, listening. The exercises at the end of the Chapter enable you to start practicing Listening with a few other people. You will want to come back to the instructions below many times after you start practicing Listening. You may also want to arrange to attend a Listening/Focusing workshop or to have a Listening/ Focusing teacher come to work with your group. Resources are listed in Chapter Eight.

Focused Listening is based on a philosophy which says that, when a person is being unclear on what to do next, or needing help, the best possible thing you can do is to help her find words for the “intuitive feel” of the issue-that being able to symbolize The Creative Edge of confusion or trouble leads to change in that trouble and the possibility for new actions and decisions. Once the person has been able to symbolize in words what is going on inside, solutions and next steps will come from within the person herself. So Focused Listening is used to help the person to find words. The best way to do this is mainly by (In 2007, see the multimedia examples in the Self-Help Package):

1) Helping the person to talk and saying back, either in her own words or in a paraphrase of your own, what you have heard her say.
2) Then she can check these words against the feelings inside, and
3) Try talking again, trying to find better words for those feelings.

Again, you help just by saying back what you have heard her say. It is the process of saying back, and not any advice or opinions or suggestions of your own, which is most powerful as a way of helping the person to find her own words for the experience she is having (as of 2007, see DVD: Listening/Focusing Demonstrations for many examples).

When Listening is successful in helping a person to get words connected with “felt meanings,” the person being listened to has the experience of getting “unstuck”, releasing tension (often tears or anger), and forming some concept for the situations, past and present, which are involved in this feeling in her. She also has the experience of saying feelings which she has been taught to be ashamed of or to fear and of having them received with warm understanding by another person.

 The Listener has the experience of seeing and understanding the other person without distortion and sharing intimately in his or her inner world. This “seeing” can be a powerful almost magical experience which may bring tears of recognition, or empathy.

Listening is best done as a sharing between equals, an exchange of Listening/Focusing turns. Each person has a chance at helping and a chance at finding words for her own troubled place. Two people set aside some time (usually from twenty minutes to an hour for each of them), and sit facing each other and close enough to touch if that kind of support arises in the interaction. First, one person talks while the other listens. Then, for the second hour, it’s done the other way around. Listening turns should feel, not like a dreaded “psychotherapy hour”, but a looked-forward-to chance to get some time for yourself, to go inside and get in touch with yourself.

Here are the four basic types of response a Focused Listener can use:


Pure Reflection (Basic Reflective Listening):

Saying back or paraphrasing what the person has said, with an emphasis
on reflecting the feeling tone: “It sounds like you’re saying —” or
“You are saying — ” or “The important part in there seems to be —”

Asking for more:

Asking the person to say more about words she has already used;
inviting her to go further: “Can you say more about — ” or “What did
you mean by the word ‘jealousy’?”

3. Intuitive Focusing Invitation:

Inviting the listenee to be quiet and “sense into” the “intuitive feel”:
“Can you just sit quietly and pay attention to The Creative Edge?”
“Would it be okay to ‘sit with’ that sense of ‘sadness’ and see what comes?”

4. Personal sharings:

Any responses which are your own thoughts, feelings, or intuitions (to
be used only in turns longer that twenty minutes and to be used
sparingly, followed by a return to reflection of feelings).

Please go to this blog with links at the top for the complete Chapter Three Download , in English and Spanish, for exact instructions in the Four Basic Response, find your first person to practice with, and give Focused Listening a try!

 Order the Self-Help Package to watch actual Focused Listening sessions on DVD. There, you will also find links to free downloads of the Introduction to the manual, in English and Spanish, telling how to find one or more people with whom to start a practice Partnership or Group.

Remember, Intuitive Focusing is often learned more easily in the company of a Focused Listener. Go to Creative Edge Focusing TM at  to find many resources, from self-help groups to Creative Edge Focusing Consultants for individual Coaching or Classes and Workshops.

Tell me what you think at or comment on this blog below ! Or email your findings to The Creative Edge Collaborators’ Group. Join at 

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 See blogs under Category: Conflict Resolution in the sidebar to find a complete mini-course on Interpersonal Focusing and Conflict Resolution, including Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, Blanchard’s “One Minute Apology,” Patricia Evan’s books on Verbally Abuse and Controlling Relationships, McMahon’s Beyond The Myth Of Dominance, and much more.

Download complete Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual, in English and Spanish, from CEF Website

Find links to free articles, personality tests, multi-media Self-Help training, Classes and workshops

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

The site of new insights and creative solutions is at the edge of what is already known. This edge, The Creative Edge, holds implicit within it all past and future knowing about the problem, more than could ever be put into words in a linear way 


  1. Eric says:


    Interesting opinions which are diverse and give reason to a great deal of thought….

  2. Robert says:


    R. The Internet is a collection of interconnected documents and…

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