Focusing for Bodyworkerswith Jack Blackburn
In this class you will experience the power of Self-Focusing, Partner Focusing, and Bodywork-Focusing – with your clients. Focusing is a very powerful yet gentle counseling technique that can be practiced by anyone… but it can be especially helpful for Bodyworkers because the basis of the technique is centered on supporting the client’s experience in his/her body. Because of its body-centered approach, Focusing can be used during bodywork sessions. This technique significantly affects the client’s conscious awareness. But Self-Focusing can be practiced by the practitioner during the session, which can create even more powerful experience for the client. The more that practitioners practice Focusing on themselves and with their colleagues, the more adept they become in practicing Focusing with their clients. Focusing not only changes the body, it can change a person’s life. It can be used easily with any bodywork modality.
Focusing was developed by Eugene Gendlin and his colleagues at the University of Chicago in the 1970s. Gendlin wrote the first book simply called Focusing which was published in 1981 and is still easily available at bookstores. Since then, hundreds of books and articles have been written about different nuances of using Focusing in caregiving modalities. You can easily do an on-line search and find many sources about the uses of Focusing. Since its inception with Gendlin’s students at the University of Chicago, Focusing has become an international movement. In Japan alone there are over 1200 members of their Focusing association and thousands of others who have learned how to use this tool in their personal lives. The International Focusing Conferences are unique in their composition since they include presentations by professionals in all caregiving fields - and even though English is the most common language spoken, translations are occurring in many languages at the same time – truly a United Nations of caregivers.
Hands-on therapists have been present at all of these gatherings but in quite small numbers. But in 2004 in Costa Rica something remarkable happened. An interest group formed of bodyworkers, movement teachers, acupuncturist, body-centered psychologist, voice toning, and yoga teachers formed to explore the advantages of using Focusing in their respective modalities. Through four days of face-to-face sharing and many months of teleconferencing this group became what was called the Bodywork Focusers Group. Jack Blackburn was a part of this original group. In 2007 they put on their first International Conference called Meeting at the Edge. The intent was to have a large-scale meeting of professionals to explore together what we were developing individually and what could grow collectively in using Focusing with clients. MDs, psychologists, music therapists, bodyworkers of all ilks, and counselors attended this conference on the volcanic island of Ischia in Italy. The next conference will occur in Zurich, Switzerland in September 2009.
Jack completed his certification as a Focusing Trainer in 2006. His main goal is to teach bodyworkers how to use this tool in their client sessions and eventually to help bodyworkers become Focusing Trainers themselves so that what was started in Costa Rica will spread throughout the hands-on therapies. One reason Jack has sponsored Dr Clyde Ford and taught his own Table Talking and Presencing classes, is so that Bodyworkers can become more precise and confident in using verbal support with their clients. This is something that is not included in training at most massage schools and consequently most practitioners feel very uncomfortable using words. Indeed there is a misconception that using words is beyond our scope of practice.
In this class you will learn this valuable counseling tool and gain the confidence to really deepen your sessions with clients. Although much of the writings about Focusing have come from the psychological profession, the technique itself is free of psychological terminology and poses no problems on conflict with that profession. Jack will explain the reasons that you can feel free to use Focusing and how to keep yourself free of temptations to become an authority figure for your clients. The emphasis is upon the client’s experience, not your expertise!
Finally and probably most important for all helping professions – Your clients will become active participants in their own sessions! You will no longer have to see yourself as someone who is responsible to fix your clients symptoms. With Focusing, the client is actively involved in working with their own body issues. So, instead of being authority figure, you are now working with your client as a team. This new way of working can bring great joy to your relationships with clients and avoid many of the ethical issues that arise because clients want to give their power away. Your clients will regard you as someone who is helping them develop their sense of authority or authorship for their lives.
Question from a Student:
Should I take the Introduction to Focusing if I already took Table Talking?
Table Talking was developed quite differently from Focusing for Bodyworkers. Table Talking is based upon different levels of client/therapist verbal and tactile interaction, working together as a team. On the first day of Focusing
for Bodyworkers, I teach the process of Self Focusing for the
practitioner so that he/she can use that tool (like a deep meditative
process) any time. Self Focusing, like Self Reiki, is a tool for self
development. The more we practice it, the more we develop our
sensitivities as therapists... and the more we experience our inner
On the second day we use the Focusing steps to develop felt shifts in the client as part of the tablework. As such we are using a model that includes client self-questioning inside, supported by the therapist. The questioning involves Focusing steps that are different from Table Talking.
What connects the classes together is the development of presence in the client and therapist.
As such the classes are complimentary but quite different.