Posts tagged: experiential focusing therapy

INTUITIVE FOCUSING: THE ONE MINUTE PAUSE — REFLECTING, NOT REACTING

By , April 10, 2009 5:02 pm
Self-Reflection

Self-Reflection

We like to think of ourselves as free. But, most of the time, we are actually simply reacting to the stimuli around us. Something happens, and we REACT. We do not usually STOP, even for a moment, to REFLECT upon what is happening. We are not “free” but quite controlled by the situations around us. And, most importantly, we are also controlled by the residue left by our past experiences in similar situations.

Human beings have the special capacity to be self-reflective. We are able to take a step back and look at what we are doing, ponder, “Why am I acting like this in this situation?”, and change our future actions. But too seldom do we take this “one minute pause”  before reacting. 

The capacity for self-reflection becomes urgently important when our “reactions” are not serving us well. It is then that we seek psychotherapy or other help — to figure out why we act as we do and how we might act differently.

True change comes from INSIDE and cannot be given as advice by another. Change from advice is short-term. Through self-reflection, change becomes lasting.  Internal patterns change, like a kaleidoscope turning. THEN new thoughts, emotions, and action steps become possible.

Before a crisis leads to therapy, self-reflection can be learned as the simple self-help skill, Intuitive Focusing. Based upon Eugene Gendlin’s six-step Focusing process (Focusing, Bantam, 1981, 1984), Intuitive Focusing is the disciplined “practice” of self-reflection. Intuitive Focusing makes productive use of the PAUSE for self-reflection.

During the pause, the Focuser turns inward and pays attention to the “intuitive feel,” the “something-more-than-words”  which underlies thoughts, behaviors, actions. During this quiet inner attention, the Focuser looks for words or images that are “just right” in capturing the “intuitive feel.” When “just right” symbolizations are found, the “bodily-felt sense” opens and shifts, is carried forward to new understandings. The kaleidoscope turns, and a whole new pattern of possibilities arises.

The PRISMS/S PROBLEM SOLVING PROCESS begins with the PAUSE and goes through the Intuitive Focusing steps needed for paradigm shifts, for the kaleidoscope to turn.

While Intuitive Focusing can be practiced alone, the quiet time for self-reflection can be greatly facilitated by the company of a Focused Listener. The Focused Listener says back the Focusers words, with special attention to the “feeling tone,” the “something more than words.” In a Focusing Community, people take turns as the Focuser and Listener, helping each other with problem solving.

Experiential Focusing Therapy also places emphasis upon teaching this self-help skill of productive self-reflection, so that clients can continue to solve their own problems throughout their life.

For application in business settings, see my article, “Creative Edge Organizations: Businesses and Organizations As A ‘Kind’ Of Focusing Community” from The Folio: Thirtieth Anniversity Tribute edition at The Focusing Institute, www.focusing.org .

You can learn all about Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening with the many resources listed below:

CREATIVE EDGE FOCUSING(tm):  SELF-HELP SKILLS FOR HOME AND WORK

Free Downloads:

Complete Focusing Instructions Manual (17 pages)

“Ajas” Instantaneos Mini-Manual

Creative Edge Focusing (www.cefocusing.com ) teaches two basic self-help skills, Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening, which can be applied at home and at work through The Creative Edge Focusing Pyramid.

Based upon Gendlin’s Experiential Focusing (www.focusing.org ) and Rogers’ Empathic Listening, our website is packed with Free Resources and instructions in these basic self-help skills. Learn how to build Support Groups, Conscious Relationships, and Creative Edge Organizations based upon these basic skills of emotional intelligence.

You can try out    “Focusing: Find Out What Is Bothering You.”

Click here to subscribe to Creative Edge Focusing(TM)’s  Instant “Ahah!” e-newsletter and get the latest exercises first!!! 

Click here for a free Intuitive Focusing Mini-Course

Click here for a free Focused Listening Mini-Course

 See  Core Concept: Conflict Resolution 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.

See  Core Concept: Intimate Relationship to find a complete mini-course on increasing intimacy and sexuality, including the “Sharing Your Day” exercise, Listening/Focusing Partnerships for The Way of Relationship, untangling and equalizing desire, tantric sexuality, and much more.

Download complete Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual, in English and Spanish, from CEF Website, or download from links at top of this blog.

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

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

www.cefocusing.com

INTEREST AREA: EXPERIENTIAL FOCUSING THERAPY

By , June 25, 2008 9:38 am

INTEREST AREAS: SEVEN DIFFERENT PLACES TO START LISTENING/FOCUSING PRACTICE GROUPS!!! 

The Interest Areas under “Is This You” at The Creative Edge Focusing website (www.cefocusing.com ) give the First Ten Steps you might take to bring the model of Listening/Focusing into seven whole different areas of living: Organizations, Support Groups and Communities, Relationships, Parenting, Education, Spiritual Communities, and Helping Professions (psychotherapy, counselling, medicine, body work, etc.).

In the e-newsletters, I am introducing you to each of these Interest Areas and possible First Steps so that you might start a Listening/Focusing practice group in any of these areas. See BLOGS BELOW THIS ONE IN ARCHIVES FOR JUNE, 2008

Week One Interest Area: Creative Edge Organizations,
Week Two Interest Area: The Way of Relationship,
Week Three Interest Area: Building Community — Support Groups Everywhere,
Week Four Interest Area: Creative Edge Education —Every Gift Awakened (Especially for ADHD) .

INTEREST AREA: EXPERIENTIAL FOCUSING THERAPY (FOT)

Experiential (EXP) Focusing Therapy is Dr. McGuire’s version of Gendlin’s Focusing-Oriented Therapy (Gendlin, E.T. Focusing-Oriented Therapy: A Manual of the Experiential Method, Guilford, 1996).The core skills of Experiential Focusing Therapy, Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening,integrate into all other approaches to counseling and therapy, including body-centered work, spiritual direction, and medical interviews as well as psychotherapy.

The counselor keeps his/her attention upon the client/patient’s Creative Edge, the “intuitive feel” from which new solutions and creative ideas can arise. S/he also pays attention to the Relational Edge (term created by Glenn Fleisch), her own experience of the interactional “intuitive feel” created between herself and the client.

The counselor uses Focused Listening, including Focusing Invitations, to encourage Intuitive Focusing by the client. However, the counselor can also incorporate all other techniques which might enable the client/patient to step out of fixed, static patterns. This can include body work, Gestalt and other experiential interventions, psychoanalytic and Self Psychology, interpretations of the therapeutic relationship, cognitive/behavioral analysis, Emotion-Focused Therapy, whatever the counselor has in his or her tool bag.

But the goal of interventions is always the same: allowing the client/patient to experience and pay attention to the “intuitive feel” underlying “stuck” patterns, the Creative Edge of change, and to articulate Paradigm Shifts out of this fresh, felt experiencing, using the PRISMS/S Problem Solving Method.

The following articles indicate Dr. McGuire’s specific emphases (you can find them all at www.cefocusing.com under Free Resources: Articles, http://cefocusing.com/freedownloads/index.php:

Affect in Focusing and Experiential Therapy (PDF)
Focusing Inner Child work With Abused Clients (PDF)
Caring Confrontation In Experiential Therapy (PDF)
The “sheen of tears”(“Being Touched and Being Moved” (PDF) as an indicator of areas of profound personal meaning as well as of possible unresolved childhood issues
Experiential Focusing as a method of brief therapy (PDF) and brief therapy from a humanistic standpoint (PDF)
Psychotherapy training through peer counseling (PDF)
Integrating Listening/Focusing moments into medical interviews (PDF), throughout hospitals, and other helping/counseling situations

 For a short description of Experiential Focusing Therapy, see PDF download Experiential Focusing Therapy
See also:
Experiential Focusing Therapy: For Clients
Experiential Focusing Therapy: For Therapists

All Helping Professionals Can “Experientialize” Their Work

Helping professionals include all whose work focus is on helping other human beings, rather than creating solely material or intellectual products. Helping professionals include dentists, physicians, psychologists, social workers, counselors, teachers, nurses, medical technicians, chiropractors, acupuncturists, holistic health practitioners, massage therapists, etc.

Helping professionals can integrate the basic Focused Listening and Intuitive Focusing skills into their work in many ways. They can use them to aid patients and clients, for their own personal growth, and for burnout prevention, an important area for all helping professionals. See More on Focusing and Helping Professionals.

Purchase Dr. McGuire’s manaul, The Experiential Dimension In Therapy.

Ten First Steps To Take To Add Focusing and Listening To Healing

Go to Interest Area: Experiential Focusing Therapy and scroll to the bottom to find the Ten First Steps To Take  to bring Focusing into therapy practice and other helping professions.

Tell me what you think at [email protected] or comment on this blog below !

Click here to subscribe to our Instant “Ahah!” e-newsletter and get the latest exercises first!!!

 See Core Concept: Conflict Resolution 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.

See Core Concept: Intimate Relationship to find a complete mini-course on increasing intimacy and sexuality, including the “Sharing Your Day” exercise, Listening/Focusing Partnerships for The Way of Relationship, untangling and equalizing desire, tantric sexuality, 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)

www.cefocusing.com

FOCUSING TURN DEMONSTRATION: BIG “FELT SHIFT” IN LIFE-LONG “SCRIPT”

By , December 20, 2007 2:37 pm

This was such a paradigmatic example of Gendlin’s Focusing self-help technique (Focusing, Bantam, 1981,1984) and McGuire’s Intuitive Focusing, that I wanted to share it here. It includes Clearing  A Space, deeper Focusing, and a huge bodily-felt shift, predicted to cause lasting change in “personality,” in how the person lives from then on.

 It also ended up capturing something about this holiday season, the symbol of a young, struggling, “holy” family (Christian or not, it is this symbolism that touches me).
 
The turn happened on the Creative Edge Practice yahoo group where we are developing a model, a safe place for learning about Listening/Focusing directly in an email group. You can join us! Go to the link to read a description of the group.
 
In response to my Focusing turn, three different people offered Listening Reflection, each beautifully, empathically “holding and grasping” my message and giving it back to me, enriched by their own being-there in a Listening way. What an educational experience to be able to compare styles of Reflecting! 
 
Here is the complete turn: it started slowly, me thinking only of Clearing a Space, moving into a deep Focusing, huge felt-shifting experience. The kaleidescope turned, and everything is newly in process:
 
“Okay, I am going to touch base with myself, as this holiday time (for me, my 62nd birthday Dec. 24, then Christmas, Dec. 25, New Years….) by Clearing A Space, just to see what is on my plate.  No desperate issue to use Focusing with, but a sense of wanting to “take an inventory,” see what is there (Clearing A Space is Getting A Felt Sense Exercise #3, p.10 in Complete Focusing Instructions download you received, also on CD Intuitive Focusing Training, Track 10. You can find e-newsletters about it at E-newsletter archive, dates 10/12-11/1 ):
 
Phew!!  All that teaching done, now turning toward myself, just beginning to follow my breathing as a way of coming inside my body—  big breath, big sigh. Ahhhh!
 
—Got to slow down, give up “teaching” mind set, take time, take those whole “minutes” for finding the felt sense, not try to do this fast—
 
—-(long pause for felt sensing)   Wow! (almost teary feeling) This holiday is almost here, after all these months of build up, and, if I am not careful, I am going to “miss it,” miss the “holiday” time-off, time for relationships, feeling of it ——
 
— Moving into a little Focusing here —- I am not really taking a full break —still doing email, blogging, website about three hours a day —what if I took a total break for the week from Christmas to New Years? —– tension in my shoulders — responsibility — also almost teary : “I would miss my email community — they are a large part of my “family” —-
 
—Many people also experiencing this “holiday,” not wanting a lot of emails — natural slow down?(doing some meridian tapping on sore spots each side of my collar bone: “I carry so much tension, even when I am trying to be on vacation —-TRYING!” (Big sigh, letting go of some tension—)
 
—Leaving further Focusing on that issue for another time. Back to Clearing A Space (I am looking for the peace, the “Except for all of that, I am completely okay!” experience that can come just with Clearing). (Big breath. Sigh. Releasing some tension). Ahhhh!
 
—Next issue that arises: Seeing my son, daughter-in-law, new grandson today— almost teary feeling — they are like Mary and Joseph — too young. They have a home, but not much else in the way of security — the world against them, too, in some way, because of their ADHD way of being (more teary here — pausing to sense into this. More of a sad sigh…)— some actual tears now, some relief in that symbolism — that there will be some angels and shepherds and wise men for them, too — some supports —that it is “not just me” trying to hold them up —WOW!  That is an insight for me. Not to experience only all the hardship side but to see that there is some world-love, some world-support for them also—-NOT JUST ME (more teary feeling there. I will pause to be with that part — the strain I put on me to “hold them up” —)Big sigh—-
 
—My son will be at least yelled at at work, if not fired, because people stole something while he was cashier — it wasn’t totally his fault, but he was crying, stressed out, about it — but also angry about being blamed —
 
—And he is considering joining the military as a way to cope with this young family, all the bills….that is a big “weight” on me (I am drooping under the crush of it)  Big Sigh.  So, there is that. That is a heavy one — but I am reminded of the “support” symbolism above — the weight of that, the decision, whatever happens, it’s not all on my shoulders (ALL??? REally, in some way, none of it is on my shoulders —tears, sobbing, really, here —- I really cannot “remove this cross” from them. It is theirs to bear, not mine—much more sobbing there, nausea —- I would much rather be able to control it, to take it on, take care of it, make it come out alright —- more sobbing—-
 
(Had to get up and walk around. There is a huge physical pain shooting all up the sides of my torso, through my spine/ribcage, and sobbing about how I would rather carry it, even if stressful, than acknowledge that I really can’t control it, I can’t fix it— of course, logically, I know this — but THIS IS DIFFERENT. THIS IS LIKE AN EXPERIENTIAL, BODY-KNOWING THAT I CAN’T CONTROL IT. THIS COULD BE A BIG SHIFT, A BIG CHANGE IN MY MAJOR LIFE PATTERN OF TRYING TO CARRY EVERYTHING— so, I am going to breath into this and walk more, let this body-level shift happen more thoroughly—)
 
—This is big. I can’t even comprehend, really, what would come next as a way-of-being if I put this down, this idea that I am controlling/saving/holding up things, like whether people I love live or die, etc. — I’m thinking “This is what the Freudians mean by ‘secondary gain’ — what is the person gaining by having what looks like an unproductive pattern/behavior?” I’m feeling this experientially, as a body, not just a head, knowing — Big sigh. I need to take more time to “live into” this body-shifting—- Pause again, walking.
 
—  Sitting, just breathing, feeling twinges shooting all through my body, loosenings, stretchings — but also part of me that wants to “crunch back up,” go back to thinking I am controlling things — but, I know that, fortunately, I guess, in real felt-shifting, like this is, there is no going back —-“The kaleidescope turns, and everything is new.” Darn!!! (meridian tapping those sore spots on collarbone again)
 
— A glimmering: “Well, silly, you weren’t really controlling things before either, with all that stress and tension. YOu just thought you were!!!!!!!”” (something in me starts shuttering here, shaking with fear — this is too scary for that part. I will be with that part now, turning compassionate, nurturing attention to it —–) Pause.
 
—I’m looking at a poster I have on the wall. It is a big pool of wavy water. Floating in the middle, a mother cradles her child in her hands. There are larger hands cradling those two. And really large hands cradling “all of that.”  I want to comfort myself there, convince myself, believe that there are “larger hands” holding it all up:”S/he’s got the whole world in his/her hands,” the song says —- Ahhhh! More pausing to “sit with” all of this — the scared part, the letting go, the hope that there is love/support in this world so harsh for these young parents — some teariness there—Ahhhh!
 
—still too scary — thinking of my child going off to Afghanistan or Iraq, him thinking he is going to work on computers and come out getting a job for $120,000!!!!  Too young. Too innocent to face these huge decisions…but also very stubborn. Very much needing to “do it myself.” And, yes, it is his destiny. I cannot do it for him. It ruins the very “thing,” the “selfhood” for him if I try to decide for him. Sigh….
 
—I can’t do anymore with this place now. Need it to rest. Trust the continuing bodily shifting. Ahhh!
 
— Sense that there is this whole “other thing” on my plate. Where I thought I would spend my Focusing time. This whole issue about my work, what new projects I should take on, what leave alone. How be less stressed. I’m not going to go there now. Another time. But I know they are related. Saving my son. Saving the world. It’s all part of that same “life script” :”I can hold it all up. I can change it all. I can save everybody, if I just work hard enough.”  Big sigh!!!
 
I’m stopping here! Another huge post, huge Focusing turn come out of Clearing a Space. I do feel lighter. My spine straighter, my body less hunched over with carrying it all. I am optimistic! I trust this felt-shifting, carrying forward process. I know it is in the “direction of righting,” wholeness.
 
I do feel finished.  I do not need reflection. But, of course, it is always welcome. It is always nice to ALSO be heard, as well as hearing myself. And, of course, this group is a place to practice Reflecting, so I’m game for any person to try it, perhaps with just some small part…or not!  It’s vacation!
 
Warmly, and thanks for Listening, “holding this space.” I would not do this Focusing at all this well or deeply “alone”.
 
Kathy

Learn more about Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening and Experiential Focusing Therapy at Creative Edge Focusing’s website, filled with free downloads on creativity, spirituality, collaborative thinking, parenting, innovation in business, and many other aspects of application of Focusing and Listening skills at home, at work, in your community, and globally.

See actual demonstrations of Listening/Focusing in our Self-Help package, a manual in English or Spanish, four CDs of Focusing Instructions, and a DVD with four demonstrations of actual listening/focusing sessions — everything you need to start your own Listening/Focusing Partnership or Support Group or to incorporate these basic self-help skills into existing support groups.

In the side bar at Creative Edge Focusing, subscribe to our free e-newsletter for weekly reminders to practice Relaxation and Focusing exercises and join our free yahoo group, Creative Edge Practice, for ongoing demonstrations, practice, and support.

Find classes/workshops/phone coaching in our Listings section or Coaching/Classes/Consulting with Dr. McGuire

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

www.cefocusing.com

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

REFLECTIVE LISTENING: WHEN IS A REFLECTION “RIGHT”?

By , December 6, 2007 3:01 pm

This is my favorite question ever!  What is “right” in terms of a Listening Response, a Reflection? I’d love it if everyone would jump in with their answer to this question, regardless of teaching experience or just experience! 
 
For me, the only “right” that really matters is when the client/Focuser says, “Yes. That is exactly right. That fits” with sighs, tension release, other signs that this is the body’s response: “Yes. That is right. It captures the ‘feel of it all’ completely.” 
 
The point or goal of Focusing Turns, or Focusing-Oriented Therapy (FOT) IS to empower the Focuser to gain confidence and skill in allowing answers and next steps to come from within their own experiencing of their own unique situation. 

IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO EMPOWER THE CLIENT TO TRUST THEIR OWN JUDGMENT THAN TO CONVINCE THEM OF SOMETHING THAT MAY BE THEORETICALLY “CORRECT.”
 
Carl Rogers was so emphatic about this empowering that he would do NOTHING but reflect, not wanting to give the client any temptation to rely upon him as “expert” rather than their own inner experiencing and problem solving.
 
So, if a reflection/interpretation/evocative technique does not “fit” in the moment, does not touch the Focuser’s present felt experiencing in a way that allows carrying-forward, new next steps from inside, to unfold, draws the Focuser out into discussion, disagreement, or argument with the Listener — then, it is not “right” in this moment — although it may become “right” at a later point when the Focuser has moved forward to a new felt Edge that can take it in in a resonating way—
 
Most everything else, I guess, is helpful or unhelpful!  Helpful can be getting it “wrong” in a way that helps the Focuser say more what “it” is like: “No, it’s not that. It’s more like this—” (This can happen even when the Listener says back exactly the Focuser’s words, seemingly perfectly “right”!).
 
Helpful is always going back, after any intervention, especially one that seemed “wrong” in terms of getting the Focuser off the track of felt-sensing, into confusion or arguing or theorizing with the Listener instead of continuing to pay attention to finding words or images for, the present “felt sense.”
 
My articles Caring Confrontation and Focusing Inner Child Work With Abused Clients (free PDF downloads from www.cefocusing.com )trace my attempts to grapple with this issue, of how hard to press, how often to come back to, a “felt experiencing” I have in relation to the client which I think is “Correct” in some way but they say is not “Right.”
 
This is such a great question, I would invite everyone to jump in with their own answer, their own way of saying what is “right” in terms of a Listening Response.

Learn more about Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening and Experiential Focusing Therapy at Creative Edge Focusing’s website, filled with free downloads on creativity, spirituality, collaborative thinking, parenting, innovation in business, and many other aspects of application of Focusing and Listening skills at home, at work, in your community, and globally.

See actual demonstrations of Listening/Focusing in our Self-Help package, a manual in English or Spanish, four CDs of Focusing Instructions, and a DVD with four demonstrations of actual listening/focusing sessions — everything you need to start your own Listening/Focusing Partnership or Support Group or to incorporate these basic self-help skills into existing support groups.

In the side bar at Creative Edge Focusing, subscribe to our free e-newsletter for weekly reminders to practice Relaxation and Focusing exercises and join our free yahoo group, Creative Edge Practice, for ongoing demonstrations, practice, and support.

Find classes/workshops/phone coaching in our Listings section or Coaching/Classes/Consulting with Dr. McGuire

Dr. Kathy McGuire

Creative Edge Focusing

www.cefocusing.com

Five-Minute Grieving: What to do if a patient, friend, coworker starts crying

By , October 29, 2007 4:30 pm

Finding The Meaning Of Tears

“Being Touched” and “Being Moved” : The Spiritual Value of Tears

Download the above articles to learn more about the use of Intuitive Focusing to unravel the meanings signalled by tears.

“Opening Up”, Not “Breaking Down”

Most of the time, we walk around “being” our symptoms instead of “relating” to them. The physician’s office is a place where accidental openings into the “felt senses” underlying symptoms have an increased likelihood of happening. It thus becomes important for physicians, and other health professionals, to capitalize on these moments where the defenses fall, and the preverbal felt experiencing underlying symptoms, becomes available for transformation.

Inter-office conflict or stress at home can also cause a co-worker or employee to “break down” and start crying. Or a friend may become teary while sharing. Instead of being afraid of a “break down,” see it as an “opening up,” an opportunity to unblock and build anew. See Culture of Creativity to understand the Creative Edge Core Principles underlying growth and creativity.

People Are Skilled At “Not Crying”

Five minute grieving is based upon the following premises, drawn from my 25-year experience as a psychotherapist and peer counseling teacher:

  • In general, people do not fall apart and cry and cry without stopping. In general, people do not cry for more than a few minutes at a time.
  • If tears are present, it is healthier for body and mind to allow their expression than to repress them. Tears also are the doorways into The Creative Edge, the possibility for change.
  • In general, people have a life-time of experience in being able to call up their defenses again, and go on as needed after a few moments of crying.
  • In the few cases where crying is uncontrollable, it is better to discover this vulnerability and get help, by referring to a counselor for psychotherapy and/or a psychiatrist for exploration of the appropriateness of anti-depressant medication.
  • In general, spending a few minutes making words for the “intuitive sense” underlying the tears will bring relief to the person, energy to the Listener, and a deep feeling of bonding and care between the two.
  • Allowing the tears also actually releases energy, letting the person go on to next steps of problem solving and action to be taken.

Here follows a first step into the Creative Edge Focusing ™ Core Skills of Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening which I call “Five Minute Grieving,” especially for health professionals, but also for co-workers and friends in a pinch, if someone tears up or starts crying.  

FIVE MINUTE GRIEVING

Example from a physician’s office:

You have just told a patient that tests have shown her to be infertile. Tears well up in her eyes.

  1. Invite her to cry. Say something like the following:
    • “In a minute we can discuss options, but let’s make room for your tears.”
    • “It’s okay with me to let your tears come.”
    • “It’s okay to cry.”
    • “You don’t have to hold back your tears.”
    • “It’s important to let yourself cry.”
    • “Just be gentle with yourself. Put your arms around yourself.”
  2. Empathize with the feeling without trying to “fix” it or take it away:
    • “I know it seems bleak right now.”
    • “I know it’s hard.”
    • “I see your sadness.”
    • “I’m sorry for your sadness.”
  3. Help her to find words or images for the tears. After she has cried for a while or at a natural pause in her tears, say something like:
    • “What are the words for your sadness?”
    • “Are there any words or images with your tears? It helps to get a handle on the feeling.”
    • “Can you say what’s the worst of it?”
    • “Can you say what you’re thinking?”
  4. Just be quiet and give the person some time to grope for words.
    • Empathize again, often by paraphrasing:
    • “So it’s (her words: “the fear that you’ll never be a mother;” “feeling like a dried up stick,” etc.) that’s hard.”
  5. Continue Steps 1-4 as long as makes sense.
    • Establish closure:
    • “We have to stop now.”
    • “We only have a minute before we have to stop.”
    • “I have to go, but you’re welcome to sit here for a minute until you’re ready to go.”
    • Or, if you are now going to continue with other aspects of the visit, “Let’s see if we can put aside the tears for now so that I can give you some more information and we can look for solutions to your situation.”
    • Orient the person, if necessary, by doing a “present time” exercise:
    • “I want to make sure you’re back out in the world before I send you off to drive home (or before we continue talking) . How about if you name all the circular (or orange, or striped, etc.) things in the room?”
    • At the end of the appointment, make a referral to a counselor or support group as appropriate and/or make arrangements for the person to check back with you for a future appointment.

Of course, Five Minute Grieving  is just a first step toward fully incorporating Core Skills of Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening into your personal and professional life. I hope it will whet your appetite to pursue further training in PRISMS/S and the Creative Edge Pyramid for application of Listening and Focusing at all levels and at home as well as work  at www.cefocusing.com .

You can begin with Free and Purchased resources by clicking on the Icons in the right sidebar on the main page. Helping professionals can order Dr. McGuire’s manual, The Experiential Dimension in Therapy and, in a Free Phone Consult with Dr. McGuire, can explore our Experiential Focusing Professional Training Program.

COLLABORATIVE EDGE SEXUALITY: HEALING SEXUAL ABUSE

By , October 27, 2007 5:24 pm

Kathy’s Inner ChildrenKathy’s Favorite Childhood Photo: Undaunted!

FOCUSING INNER CHILD WORK

Focusing Inner Child Work With Abused Clients 

(download this PDF file to see Dr. McGuire’s approach)

    Yes, if we are to work on healthy sexuality, we will have to look at the wide prevalence of sexual abuse, the wounds of which will crop up all around sexuality.

    What is the statistic? Is it 1 out of 2 women  and 1 out of 3 men report some kind of unwanted touching by age 21? Whatever the factual statistics, the number is huge, huge, enough that everyone needs an awareness of past abuse creeping into present relationships.

   Alice Miller, in her books including For Your Own: Hidden Cruelty In Childhood and the Roots of Violence, http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/103-5665581-7820613?initialSearch=1&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Alice+Miller+For+Your+Own+Good&Go.x=12&Go.y=12, was one of the first to “tear the covers off” the culturally-accepted practices and mythology surrounding the physical and sexual abuse of children.

    I have had women tell me laughingly over lunch, “Oh, I even take my showers with my clothes on!” or “I’ve never had an orgasm. It’s fine with me and fine with my husband.”

    Equally likely, flashbacks to sexual abuse begin when  someone finally finds a loving relationship, enough safety to begin to let down defenses and begin to re-feel — and, bam, memories from the past arise because of this new-found safety.

   In this self-help context, I can only issue a warning to be on the lookout for signs and to seek appropriate help. The official “diagnosis” is often Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the same kind of intense “flashbacks” and other anxiety-related symptoms that Vietnam vets called to our attention.

   One finding about  PTSD from warfare was that soldiers who had already experienced trauma in childhood had an intensified likelihood of PTSD in wartime.

   Much research also substantiates that a huge percentage of those in prison, men and women, were victims of childhood physical and sexual abuse.

   Intellectual understanding is not sufficient for healing. Nor is it necessary or productive to be “re-traumatized” through the unsafe recall of memories. Therapies are body-centered, helping the client to pay attention to  “present bodily experience,” Gendlin”s “felt sensing,” the crux of Focusing. They also use “anchoring” and other techniques to produce a therapeutic setting where memories can be “re-experienced” within a safety that allows for “carrying forward.”

   There are also approaches to treatment which emphasize supporting couples working through sexual abuse issues. One such is Laura Davis, Allies In Healing: When the Person You Love Was Sexually Abused as a Child. Read inspiring reviews of this book and the comfort it brings at http://www.amazon.com/Allies-Healing-Person-Sexually-Abused/dp/customer-reviews/0060968834/ref=cm_cr_acr_dp_top/105-0394208-4450814?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&customer-reviews.start=1&qid=1193519753&sr=1-1#customerReviews

You’ll find more books here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/105-0394208-4450814?initialSearch=1&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Sexual+Abuse+Couples+Therapy&Go.x=8&Go.y=13

   Some therapies that are especially useful in helping people to work through flashbacks and other symptoms, with empathy and support are:

Focusing-Oriented Therapy (FOT): read about Focusing and Trauma at http://www.focusing.org/trauma.html and find additional Certified Professionals who do FOT  at http://www.focusing.org/trainers_search.asp

Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing at http://www.traumahealing.com/

Mary Armstrong’s work on Focusing and EMDR at http://www3.sympatico.ca/m.armstrong

Hakomi Body-Centered Therapy: description at http://www.prajna-flowingriver.org/hakomi.htm. Hakomi Institute at www.hakomiinstitute.com and  Hakomi Resources at http://www.gregjohanson.net/page.asp?ID=4

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

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

www.cefocusing.com

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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