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.
What is Interactive Focusing?
Interactive Focusing is what we call the third stage in the developmental line of Focusing or bodysense-based practices.
Gendlin (Focusing, Bantam, 1978) discovered what he called the direct referent which he named the bodily felt sense. This allowed an inner sensing, a knowing from inside the body that wasn’t intellectual or head-based. Gendlin developed a six-step process he called Focusing. The first developmental stage of Focusing was following the six-step process inside of yourself, intra-personally, to bring an unclear, bodily-sensed issue into focus.
Gendlin initially discovered this in his inquiry about healing in therapy and went on to utilize Focusing as a tool in the practice of psychotherapy.
Gendlin soon paired the Focuser with a listener. This was the second developmental stage of Focusing: the Focusing exchange or the Focusing partnership. You now had a listener who used client-centered listening techniques, most notably reflective responses as the listening method. The intention was to have someone listen to you, but, as in client-centered psychotherapy, that someone was instructed to be non-intrusive. The listener was to make a space inside to listen to you while not letting any of her own material intrude. After being listened to, the Focuser and listener exchanged roles. The listener would now Focus while being listened to in the same non-intrusive manner with the same intention. It was a balanced model, and it was a transactional model where one transaction was independent of the other, the first transaction was completed before the second began and neither party’s material intruded on the other’s. Each transaction was kept separate.
Interactive Focusing develops directly from intra-personal 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.