Posts tagged: empathy empathic listening


By , April 7, 2008 11:56 am

Interactive Focusing: The Double Empathic “Golden Moment”


For four weeks, we practice an actual exercise in three different categories: An Instant “Ahah!” to integrate into your every day life at work and at home, a Felt Sensing exercise to practice this step of Focusing, and a Complete Focusing Session. Actually doing the exercise which  arrives in each e-newsletter insures that you can call upon these new skills when needed!If you just joined us, you can “catch up” on this cycle, which is starting Week Four, by reading archived e-newsletters

Week One Instant Ahah! # 7: Sharing Your Day = Instant Intimacy and

MORE Interpersonal Focusing: The Third-Person Facilitator , plus

Week Two Sharing Your Day: Finding Your Partner Fascinating and

Interpersonal: The One Minute Apology plus

Week Three Increasing Sexual Intimacy and

Interpersonal: Group Conflict — DF vs. CEDM and

Week Four Instant Ahah!#7: “I Don’t Want To Share My Day!” and Re-Evaluation Co-Counseling

If you want to learn more about past teaching/exercises related to Interpersonal Focusing to resolve conflicts, see

Interpersonal Felt Sensing: This flower is beautiful TO ME Week 1,  

Interpersonal Felt Sensing Exercise,

Interpersonal: Non-Violent Communication Week 2 ,

Interpersonal: Verbal Abuse Vs. Focusing Protocol Week 3 , and Interpersonal: Myth of Dominance and Focusing Protocol Week 4 .



“What is the purpose or intention of Interactive Focusing?
Most simply said, the purpose or intention of Interactive Focusing is to allow you to touch into your direct experience in the presence of another person and through your direct experience in the safe, empathic, accepting and compassionate environment which you create together to become aware of and to share your inner truths thereby building bonds of intimacy.”


So states Janet Klein’s introduction to the website for the self-help skill called Interactive Focusing, , created by Janet and Mary McGuire.


And further:


“Interactive Focusing
Interactive Focusing develops directly from intrapersonal and transactional Focusing. Interactive Focusing requires that the participants get in touch with an unclear issue that is carried in their bodysense. It requires that there is a listener using reflective responding as their listening modality. But it further requires that the full experience is one that is created jointly and dependent on a balanced participation by both. Because it is a mutual experience, certain safeguards must be in place. Interactive Focusing has developed into a practice of empathy and compassion in a safe environment, and Interactive Focusing has become the mode for developing empathy, acceptance and compassion in a safe environment.”


Here is one version of the full Interactive Focusing Protocol :


Interactive Focusing Format

By Mary Melady, reviewed and edited by Janet Klein

Part One: The Focuser’s Story


Focuser:Tells a reasonable part of her story, always touching into the bodysense.

Listener: Listens from the bodysense and offers reflective responses throughout the story-telling.


Focuser: Resonates the reflection for accuracy, to see if the inner experience shifts, to see if more comes. Gives Listener feedback, e.g. “I need more time with that,” “I’d like to hear that again,” “Yes—,” “No, it’s more like—,” “There’s another part I need you to hear —“

Listener: Reflects the feedback to acknowledge the correction and to let the Focuser resonate it, e.g. “So it’s more like —,” “It’s not —, it’s —“


Focuser: Checks to see if she has come to a resting place with this part of her story.

Listener: Also, can check with the Focuser to see if this part feels complete.

Part Two: The Double Empathic Moment The “Golden Moment”


Focuser: Invites the Listener to go inside to the bodysense to form the empathic response: How does the Listener get that it is for the Focuser from the Focuser’s internal frame of reference. At the same time, the Focuser checks inside to get the edge of where she is with her own story and to be gentle with what is there for her.

Listener: Goes inside: Takes time to let a bodysense form. Listens inside as if she were the Focuser. How might all that feel for the storyteller?


Note: Usually the Listener goes first with the empathic response.

Listener: Offers the empathic response: The metaphor or image that has formed. It is usually brief and more poetic, capturing the essence of it.

Focuser: The Focuser resonates the Listener’s empathic response to see if it fits and gives feedback if needed, e.g. “That really captures it,” or “It’s more like — for me.”


Focuser: Offers what came when she went inside to get how it is for her now in this new moment.

Listener: Gives reflective responses.


Focuser: Quiet moment to savor how it feels to share oneself and feel empathically heard.

Listener: Quiet moment to savor how it feels to hear and take someone into your space, empathically.

Part Three: The Interactive Response

The pair switches roles


The Focuser becomes the “new” Listener. Asks what got touched inside the “new” Focuser by what she just shared.

The Listener becomes the “new” Focuser. Checks inside to see what got touched by the first Focuser’s story.

They follow A-G above so the Listener has a chance to tell her story and feel empathically heard.

Part Four: The Interactive Closing – The relationship check


Focuser and Listener: How do I feel about you now that we have shared all of that?

Focuser and Listener: How do I feel about myself after sharing all of that with you? How do I feel about us?

Summary: The Interactive Focusing Model Short form for Dyads

Part One: The Focuser’s Story

  • The Focuser tells her story
  • The Listener gives reflections
  • The Focuser resonates and gives feedback if necessary

Part Two: The Double Empathic Moment

  • Full Empathic Response by both the Listener and Focuser

Part Three: The Interactive Response

  • Exchange roles and repeat Part One and Part Two

Part Four: The Interactive closing, The Relationship Check

  • How they now feel about each other and
  • How they now feel about themselves.

On the website there is also an Interactive Focusing Program, based upon “Inside Me” Stories, to use as a social/emotional intelligence curriculum with children.


Best of all, books and manuals by Janet Klein, for Interactive Focusing with adults and children, are available FREE at


I do believe that Janet (and Mary McGuire, co-developer) have a role of Coach perhaps similar to the use of the Third-Person Listening Facilitator role in my, Kathy McGuire’s earlier model for Interpersonal Focusing.

The protocol as given above seems to rely on both the Focuser and Listener having a good degree of skill in speaking from an “owning,” felt-sensing place and being able to Listen without reacting.

The “Double Empathic” or “Golden Moment” does give a good moment for both parties to share their empathic understanding of the experience of the other and would make a nice addition to Kath McGuire’s Interpersonal Focusing Protocol.


Interactive Focusing can be practiced when there really isn’t any big misunderstanding The two people can simply develop the habit of one as Listener taking in what the other is saying as the  Focuser, reflecting it, letting the Focuser “check and resonate and clarify.”


Next, the Listener goes inside and senses into a deeper Empathic Response, trying to really grasp what it is like to BE the Focuser. The Focuser also checks deeply whether this Empathic Response “captures all of it.” This is the Double Empathic, Golden Moment.


THEN the Listener has a turn to use Focusing upon the new “felt sense” stirred in him or her by hearing the other’s Focusing Turn. This is different from the usual Focusing Partnership Turn, where each Focuser works on their own individual issue, not their bodily-felt sense “reaction” or response to the turn of the other.

Interactive Focusing can be used as a first, non-threatening step to learning how to deal with the “felt senses” in us that are stirred “interactively,” by the words of another. Develop the habit of Interactive Focusing so that the skill will be there when there IS a problem in the relationship.

Visit the website at . Learn as much as you can and order the free books!!!!  Then, try it out with a partner or significant other!!! Or try it with several different people. And/or try it out with your partner every week! Then you will be ready, already having the habit of “empathy in relationship” when troublesome “felt senses” arise interpersonally.


Dr. Kathy McGuire will work with you and your significant other(s) by phone, first as Third Person Facilitator, then teaching you to use her Interpersonal Focusing method with each other. Click here to see Item SES-9, Interpersonal Focusing offered in The Store  at Creative Edge Focusing (TM).

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

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