Posts tagged: peer counseling


By , December 4, 2008 11:27 am

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Dr. McGuire’s Creative Edge Focusing (TM), with her core skills Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening, is her offshoot after over 30 years as a Listening/Focusing Teacher and Focusing-Oriented Therapist. She places special emphasis on learning through self-help and peer counseling communities and also upon application to daily life, through her Interest Areas, including Creative Edge Organizations, Conscious Relationships, Building Supportive Community, Positive Parenting, Creative Edge Education, Experiencing The Sacred, and Experiential Focusing Therapy. Here she offers the biography of Carl Rogers, first to develop the idea of empathic or reflective listening as the core human response facilitating growth, change, and creativity.


Empathic Listening

Carl Rogers, creator of Client-Centered Psychotherapy, was the first to develop a theory about how every person has within an “acorn” able to grow into a certain kind of tree, a “blueprint” for a unique life (On Becoming A Person, Houghton Mifflin, 1961). As a therapist in Rochester, NY, in the 1930’s, Rogers followed up on the suggestion from a female co-worker that, if instead of telling clients what to do, the therapist simply reflected back to them what they were saying and encouraged them to continue to look more deeply into their own answers, clients became empowered to find their own solutions and their own unique, personally meaningful path through life. Rogers called this technique “reflective listening” or “empathic listening.”  Learn Dr. McGuire’s simple, self-help version, Focused Listening.

From the 1940’s until his death in 1987, Rogers worked with many others in developing the idea that clients could heal themselves, if only the therapist provided “facilitative conditions” of “empathy,” “congruence,” and “unconditional positive regard.” Like a plant given water, soil, sun, and fertilizer, the person would unfold along his or her own unique path in facilitative conditions. While negative outward situations could stunt the person, like the potato left in a dark cellar, the person would always find a way, through what might look like torturous turns and twists, to reach toward the light. Read Dr. McGuire’s description of this unique, personal, unfolding through Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening, Creating At The Edge.

Invention Of Peer Counseling

Rogers was so effective in defining the “therapeutic conditions” for growth that he and his followers became able to teach these skills, especially “empathic reflection,” to non-therapists as well: to physicians, ministers, parents, really anyone at all. Client-Centered Psychotherapy gave birth to the peer counseling movement, the idea that every day people could help each other, as equals, with their personal growth. The Changes model for building supportive community, written up in Dr. McGuire’s manual, Focusing In Community: How To Start A Listening/Focusing Support Group, grew out of this perspective toward peer self-help. Read Dr. McGuire’s applications for home, community, and work, Building Supportive Community and Creative Edge Organizations.

Rogers, Gendlin, and the Discovery of “Focusing”

In the early 1960’s, Rogers and his then-student Eugene Gendlin and others at the University of Chicago undertook a huge and highly regarded research project on therapy with schizophrenics, trying to show that the Rogerian conditions could be as powerful in healing inpatients in a mental hospital as students in university counseling centers. It was during this research that Gendlin fully developed his concept of “experiencing” and the definition of the client’s ability to “focus” upon present experiencing as the crux determining factor in success of psychotherapy, more than any therapist conditions. Gendlin went on to write the self-help book, Focusing (Bantam, 1981, 1984) in order to make this self-help skill of “inner reference” available to everyone. Find many books and articles, teachers and workshops on Focusing at The Focusing Institute website. Learn Dr. McGuire’s version, Intuitive Focusing.

International Conflict Resolution

Rogers went on to extend his methods of “empathic listening” to couples, groups, and global conflicts. Using the simple empathic listening model, during the 1950’s in the United States, he had blacks and whites meet in groups and simply “listen to” each other, getting below stereotypes and prejudices and into their shared humanity. He used the same methods to bring individuals from North and South Ireland together, and for international conflict resolution in Latin America, Europe, Japan, South Africa, and the Soviet Union until his death in 1987. He was a man with a total dedication to working for world peace. See Dr. McGuire’s mini-course on Conflict Resolution.

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-E-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)


By , June 16, 2008 2:10 pm

Interest Areas: Seven Places To Start Practice Groups !!!

The Interest Areas under “Is This You” at The Creative Edge Focusing website ( ) 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 next e-newsletters, I will introduce 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.


The Building Supportive Community Project brings the Creative Edge Focusing TM Model, with its two Core Skills, Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening, and seven Applied Methods of The Creative Edge Pyramid, into existing support groups and communities, as well as starting new Focusing Communities.

Some applications are 12-Step Groups, Support Groups, Community Mental Health , Religious and Spiritual Communities, Hospitals , Prisons , Schools , Conflict Resolution, Participatory Democracy , and Collaborative Work Groups and Collectives. See (PDF file) Focusing and Twelve Step by Steve Crawford and Focusing Recovery by Suzanne Noel for an integration of Gendlin’s Focusing theory and the 12-Steps.

What Is Community?

Community means a felt-experience of interconnection and mutual support as well as the capacity to work together toward a common cause. In a community everyone can belong, respected for their uniqueness or their role but working toward the common good. For community to work, people need ways to respect and to capitalize on differences and to resolve interpersonal conflicts.

Community can be built starting with people who initially come together for mutual emotional support, as in a support group. That experience of sharing can build outward into an actual community which can organize toward a common goal, for instance, advocacy.

Or, community can be built starting with people who initially come together to accomplish a shared goal, as in a grass-roots campaign or a non-profit or for-profit organization. The good feelings created through collaboration can end up having also created feelings of mutual care and supportive community.

Dr. McGuire’s manual (download a Sample Chapter, English or Spanish,  in our Store) , Focusing In Community: How To Start A Listening/Focusing Support Group (in Spanish, Focusing en Comunidad: Como Empezar un Grupo de Apoyo de Escocha Y Focusing) teaches the basic skills needed. Audio and video tapes and phone sessions and workshops enhance this learning. The Creative Edge e-discussion/support group connects you with other people throughout the world who belong to Focusing Communities. Find contact links below.

See the free article The Focusing Community for a full description of the model.

Support Groups/ Twelve-Step Groups

The Listening/Focusing peer counseling model for building community starts at the emotional support end. The exchange of Listening/Focusing turns in Focusing Partnerships provides the empathic glue that bonds people together and motivates them to want to take care of each other, individually and in terms of uniting around a shared goal.

In a support group, usually around a particular topic like divorce, cancer, adoption, addiction, grief, we have the opportunity of discovering that we are not alone. Others have had similar experiences. They are interested, also, in hearing our own unique story, in all of its detail. Pooling all that we have learned, we can solve our problems. Support groups are places for powerful bonding because of this shared experience.

The Listening/Focusing exchange in Focusing Groups/Teams and Focusing Communities can be as powerful as psychotherapy in terms of healing and moving forward, yet it is safe, self-empowering, and inexpensive. These are bonuses to support group participation too good to pass up!( See More on Focusing in Support Groups.)

Community Mental Health

The Focusing in Community model can also be applied as a grass-roots method for integrating mental health care, as a peer counseling method, into communities.
See APPLICATION: Community Mental Health

Creative Edge Organizations Are Communities

In addition to incorporating Creative Edge Focusing into emotional support groups , building supportive community can start with groups who come together to accomplish a common task. The Creative Edge Organization model can be used for motivation from the bottom up. The Collaborative Edge Decision Making Method (PDF file to download, English or Spanish), with components of Shared Leadership, Coordinated Collaboration, and Creative Edge Impasse Resolution, grounds power and responsibility for decision making in each individual. See More on Task-Oriented Community Building.

Starting either with emotional support groups or collaborative work situations, by teaching the two simple skills of Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening, and the seven applied methods of The Creative Edge Pyramid, you can strengthen community through
—the personal, creative, and spiritual growth of each member
—the relational aspects of mutual care and conflict resolution
—the task-oriented level of problem-solving, group decision-making, and concerted action toward a goal.

Click here to visit the Building Supportive Community Interest Area and scroll down to find the Ten First Steps For Bringing Listening/Focusing into Support Groups, Community Mental Health, and Task-Oriented Settings

Tell me what you think at 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.

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)

Learning Focusing, Listening, and Focusing Partnership Exchange

By , March 6, 2008 1:33 pm

Capitulo Tres: El Intercambio de Escucha

Chapter Three: Listening/Focusing Exchange

Click links for free downloads of word file of manual chapter



The basic, core model for interpersonal forms of Gendlin’s Focusing is the Focusing Partnership: the equal exchange of turns between peer counselors. One person uses Focusing to pay attention to the murky “intuitive feel,” the “felt sense” of an issue or problem needing solving. The other person responds with Empathic Listening, simply trying to “say back” or “reflect” the words of the Focuser, with emphasis upon the “feeling tone” and the murky, unclear Edge. The Listener might also give Focusing Invitations to help the Focuser go more deeply into the “felt sense” of the issue. 

Then, after the designated time is up, the two share feedback about being the Focuser and being the Listener in that turn, then switch roles. The first Focuser now becomes the Listener, and the initial Listener becomes the Focuser, for an equal period of time.




Gendlin’s international Focusing Institute offers a Focusing Partnership program, a way in which people can form Focusing Partnerships for face-to-face or phone Focusing Partnership sessions world-wide. Those with no initial Listening/Focusing training can participate in two paid training sessions in numerous languages and by phone. Then they can join the Focusing Partnership pool. Click here to find all about the Focusing Partnership Program at The Focusing Institute website.



I have taught Focusing Partnership, which I have called the Listening/Focusing Exchange for thirty years, since my own initial experience of Focusing Partnership in the original Changes Listening/Focusing Community in Chicago starting in 1968. My manual, Focusing In Community: How To Start A Listening/Focusing Support Group (Focusing En  Comunidad: Como Empezar Un Grupo De Apoyo De Escucha Y Focusing) includes thorough instructions in how to do Focusing Partnerships and how to include them within a Focusing Group/Team/Community. 

Download the complete Chapter Three: The Listening/Focusing Exchange (Capitulo Tres: El Intercambio de Escucha) from the manual to begin exploring these wonderful self-help tools. Use the links at the 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)

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 


By , November 29, 2007 1:11 pm
  1. Focusing – Individualmente,  con un Entrenador de Borde Creativo o con un Terapeuta de Focusing Experiencial.

Cualquiera que sabe que Focusing Intuitivo es lo básico del Proceso de Solución de Problemas PRISMAS/S, puede usarlo en cualquier momento para dar un nuevo paso seguro, desde la tensión o confusión hasta  la  solución del problema.  Este será un nuevo “¡Ajá!”. Físicamente experimentado en su totalidad por el cuerpo, el cual asiente y relaja la tensión diciendo: “¡Sí, eso es exactamente! “, “¡Ahora puedo actuar!”

En mi ejemplo de abajo, primero uso Focusing Intuitivo por mi cuenta, luego,  generalmente, contrato la ayuda de un Escuchador Focalizado, en este caso, mi esposo.  Tengo la suerte de tener un esposo entrenado pero con él, me gusta compartir un turno igual de escucha.

Ejemplo del Caso:

Por varias semanas he estado dándole vueltas a un problema relacionado con el trabajo; he estado tensa, bloqueada, con noches sin dormir, obsesiva.  Estoy preocupada por que si tomo alguna acción me pueden demandar, pero no quiero echarme para atrás. 

He estado dando algunos pasos y  gastando dinero tratando de protegerme legalmente.  Pero la tensión, el insomnio y la obsesión continúan.  Me encuentro a mí misma imaginándome cómo  voy a defenderme en la Corte. Avanzo con esfuerzo, pero el costo es muy alto.  Todo el proyecto se ha vuelto agotador.

Finalmente, después de semanas me doy cuenta que debo  sentarme en silencio y usar Focusing Intuitivo acerca del asunto. Entonces, cierro mis ojos y sigo mi respiración por un momento a manera de relajación para llegar a un “espacio claro” y silencioso adentro— Suspiro…, dejo salir un poco la tensión…me pregunto: “Realmente ¿de qué se trata todo esto?…” Espero silenciosamente que algo nuevo aparezca…, un sentir intuitivo… o un Borde Creativo…para mí…, este Borde Creativo generalmente viene no a mi cabeza sino al centro de mi cuerpo…, alrededor de mi corazón…, a la cavidad del pecho…

Cuando viene un “sentir intuitivo”  busco silenciosamente unas palabras o una imagen que comiencen a asirlo.  “No quiero dar mi brazo a torcer…”, “No quiero ser derrotada…” (Hay un sentimiento con lágrimas aquí) “Tengo el derecho de hacerlo…” Respiro un poco más, revisando estas palabras frente a este “sentir intuitivo”…suspiro…dejo salir un poco de tensión.

En respuesta a estas palabras, viene un nuevo “sentir intuitivo” al centro de mi cuerpo, cerca del área del pecho…le presto atención, buscando palabras o una imagen que pudiera capturarlo…No puedo seguir así.  Es demasiada tensión…Me siento en silencio manteniendo estas palabras frente al Borde Creativo, el “sentir intuitivo…”

Al usar el Paso de Preguntar de Focusing Intuitivo,  se me viene la pregunta: “¿Qué puedo hacer para hacer que esto tenga menos tensión…?”…Permanezco con esta pregunta, prestándole atención al centro de mi cuerpo… y en lugar de contestar desde mi cabeza…, desde lo ya conocido…, espero que se forme un “sentir intuitivo” de una respuesta…Cuidadosamente busco palabras o imágenes que capturen el sentir intuitivo…suspiro, relajando la tensión.

En respuesta, consigo unas palabras, las cuales se sienten como un nuevo”Ajá” “¡Oh!, se trata de esta pequeña parte del proyecto…No tengo que renunciar a todo lo demás…, tal vez solamente  a esa pequeña parte para reducir la tensión…

Reviso estas palabras frente al “sentir intuitivo”…  Sí, ¡hay una relajación allí!

 Estoy sacudiendo mi cabeza: “¡Sí!, ¡eso es!”… “¡eso relajaría la tensión!”, “¡el miedo!…”

Me siento emocionada aquí.  Es difícil concentrarse.  Quiero levantarme y caminar ansiosamente… ¡no puedo hacer Focusing por mucho tiempo!  Le pregunto a mi esposo que está entrenado en Escucha Focalizada si él estaría disponible; sí, él será mi Escuchador Focalizado mientras yo continúo este proceso de Focusing Intuitivo.  Nos tomará de 10 a 20 minutos.  ¡A él le gusta hacerlo!…

Cierro los ojos y permanezco en este nuevo lugar, “Es solamente acerca de este pequeño lugar…” suspiro relajando la tensión…

Mi esposo refleja: “Así que es realmente sólo esta pequeña parte que tienes que cambiar.  No tienes que dejar todo…sólo esa parte…”

Estoy asintiendo otra vez, todo mi cuerpo dice:   “¡Sí!, puedo hacer eso realmente…,” “sí…, me libraré de ese miedo, esa tensión agotadora!…” Continúo revisando esa posible solución frente al “sentir intuitivo” y todo mi cuerpo sigue diciendo, “Sí, todo eso está bien conmigo.  Puedo hacerlo sin sentirme derrotada”.

  Mi esposo refleja: “Así que estás revisando y todo tu cuerpo te  dice: “Sí eso podría estar bien”…. “Puedo hacer eso sin sentirme derrotada”.  Sigo asintiendo, “Sí, eso podría estar bien…” suspiro…, relajando la tensión…

Seguimos por un rato, yo ahora en la modalidad de resolver problemas, intentando posibles opciones nuevas y diferentes; continúo  revisando con el “sentir intuitivo”, El Borde Creativo: “¿Está esto realmente bien?”… “¿Seré capaz de dormir en la noche si hago esto?…” Mi esposo continúa usando Escucha Focalizada para reflejar lo que yo digo,…dejándome revisar y aclarar…

Finalmente decido mantener esa pequeña parte ahora, siempre y cuando me prepare a mí misma para dejarla si es que tengo la necesidad de hacerlo....Esto parece ser una buena solución (Estoy moviendo la cabeza asintiendo y suspirando, relajando la tensión, es la manera que tiene mi cuerpo de decir:  “¡Sí!, ¡esto realmente encajó…!” “… ¡Tú puedes hacer esto realmente…!” Seguidamente,  terminamos el turno de Escucha/Focusing de manera formal.

En los próximos días, tengo menos tensión.  En las noches siguientes puedo dormir, surgen nuevas ideas, alternativas para reemplazar esa pequeña parte, etc. Tengo nueva energía para seguir adelante con todo el proyecto.  La posibilidad de “pequeños cambios” me da también la oportunidad de permitir que entren otras personas en mi proyecto sin que me asalte toda esa ansiedad y miedo que me han mantenido aislada, incapaz de compartir mis ideas con otras personas.

Si su meta es solamente utilizar Focusing para Ud. mismo, puede tomar una clase o un taller de entrenamiento en Focusing de un profesional de Focusing que Ud. puede encontrar en nuestra sección de Recursos Gratis.

Si desea ayuda de Escucha Focalizada de manera consistente y  sin tener que devolver el servicio como Escuchador (que es lo que sucede en las Parejas de Focusing como mencionamos mas abajo), entonces Ud. puede contratar un Entrenador de Focusing de Borde Creativo o un Terapeuta de Focusing Experiencial (Ver listados en la sección de Recursos Gratis).

Si Ud. ya tiene  una relación de Entrenamiento, puede concertar una cita para Escucha Focalizada por teléfono; a menudo, podría ya comenzar  a Focalizar simplemente  escribiendo un correo a su Entrenador expresándole acerca de su asunto o preocupación, poniendo atención a su interior, usando respuestas de Focusing Intuitivo. El Entrenador puede enviarle un correo de vuelta con respuestas de Escucha Focalizada.  ¡De esta manera Ud. recibe ayuda instantánea a mitad de precio!

Este material es ofrecido solamente como destrezas de autoayuda.  Al proveerlos, la Dra. McGuire no se compromete en rendir servicios psicológicos, financieros, legales u otros servicios profesionales.  Si se necesita la asistencia de un experto o de un consejero, se debe buscar los servicios de un profesional competente.


“Siempre que  hago Focusing, estoy sorprendida de ver cuán rápido surge el asunto, y cómo, con la ayuda de un Escuchador, hay una transformación que va desde la confusión  hacia la comprensión y finalmente la solución.”

( Profesional asociado con una organización sin fines de lucro).

Translation by Agnes Rodriguez, Certified Focusing Professional and Creative Edge Associate offering Listening and Focusing training by phone in English and Spanish. See Agnes Rodriguez.

See also The Focusing Institute for articles in Spanish by Eugene Gendlin, creator of Focusing, and Spanish-speaking Focusing Teachers world-wide.

Dr. Kathy McGuire

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

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