Focusing

The finding means that psychotherapy as usually practiced doesn't show patients how to do psychotherapy. In other words, patients did not improve with practice. If they did not somehow know right from the start how to approach themselves inside in that special way, they did not achieve major changes, no matter what they or their therapists did or how earnestly or for how long.


One reason why research is so important is precisely that it can surprise you and tell you that your subjective convictions are wrong. If research always found what we expected, there wouldn't be much point in doing research.


Once you see it, nobody will seem hopeless. In fact, nobody will seem to be "a type," either, for these are only superficial and temporary aspects of people.


This is what focusing is like. The nature of the problem changes with each shift. You make contact witl a feeling and you say, "Yes that's it!" Then you feel something below it or behind it or alongside it and you say, "Well, no, that isn't it after all." The problem, when you finish, is not the same as you thought when you began. The felt sense of the problem changes.


it is important to accept every feeling that comes, not argue with it, not challenge it with peremptory demands that it explain itself. You don't talk back to the feeling like an angry parent demanding that the feeling justify itself. You don't say, "What do you mean, such-and-such would be awful? That's nonsense! Just why would it be awful?" Instead you approach the feeling in an accepting way.


"Be with the body sense of that blank. What is its quality?"


A felt sense is not a mental experience but a physical one. Physical.


A felt sense doesn't come to you in the form of thoughts or words or other separate units, but as a single (though often puzzling and very complex) bodily feeling.


Now comes the fifth movement, asking. In this movement you ask the felt sense, directly, what it is. Usually this consists of spending some time (a minute or so, which seems very long) staying with the unclear felt sense, or returning to it again and again. The handle helps one do this.


You use the handle to help you to make the felt sense vividly present again and again. It isn't enough to remember how you just felt it moments ago. It needs to be right here, otherwise you can't ask it.


Sometimes it helps to ask one of the following two questions; first try one, then later the other. With each you will need to make sure that the question reaches the felt sense. At first, usually, your mind will answer.


1. "What is the worst of this?" (Or, "What is the 'jumpiest' thing about all this?" if your handle word was "jumpy.") 2. "What does the felt sense need?" (Or, "What would it take for this to feel OK?")


Let the questions wait. You aren't going to go right out to do something wild.


Allow even a very little shift to have its full minute or so. "All right, now at least I know where the trouble is,"


The first movement of focusing is enormously important because if it can happen, the rest will probably happen too. In the first movement you clear a space for yourself to live in while the rest of the focusing process is going on.


"What does it now feel like to me, to be a person who has this problem?"


give yourself a week or so in which to catch yourself whenever you feel any ordinary emotion strongly. Notice what your body feels like. You will find that your body feels the emotion inside.