Experiential Focusing can be quite useful for allowing
the spiritual program of the Twelve Step Recovery process
to be experienced and realized in a bodily way.
Actual change in one’s life of recovery goes faster
and is realized at a deeper level than without Focusing.
Steve Crawford

With few exceptions our members find that
they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource
which they presently identify with their own conception
of a Power greater than themselves.
We found the Great Reality deep down within us.
Alcoholics Anonymous

Recovery Focusing groups explore each Step of the Twelve-Step Pathway in a felt sensed way in order to experience it inside “now,” allowing its felt meaning to be revealed freshly. Topics for discussion or from meditation books are also explored in this way. For treatment centers or addiction counselors, Recovery Focusing works as a powerful, meaningful introduction to the 12 Step pathway and to the life-changing practice of Focusing.


Focusing is a practice of waiting for the inner feel of something to emerge from inside us. Vague at first, as this inner feel comes into “Focus,” meaning emerges. The symbols that come into “Focus” include words/phrases, body senses, images, metaphors, memories, gestures/postures, inner parts, songs, flavors, colors, etc.  The way we are living our situations suddenly “make sense” to us. (Thus, the term “felt sense.”) This insight, and its accompanying felt release, open up new possibilities inside us, and we feel good — full of hope and inner lightness of being. Steps forward reveal themselves in the new-found clarity.

Some benefits of Focusing include:

  • Felt Sensing frees us from stuck patterns, enabling us to move forward in our life.
  • We are naturally able to have a compassionate, creative relationship with ourselves and others.
  • It enables us to ground ourselves in Presence to process feelings and situations in a safe, spacious way, gaining access to our body’s inner wisdom.
  • We heal old wounds and begin truly loving life and living as our authentic self.
  • We learn how to listen fully and tenderly to another person in a safe, compassionate way.
  • We find our voice and inner truth while being heard by a safe, caring companion.
  • We simply feel better!


The Twelve Step Pathway is a way of living that enables us to find freedom from the physical, mental, and spiritual chains of an addictive or compulsive process. Through the practice of the principles implied in each Step of a “Program” of Recovery, we heal our connection and relationship with ourselves, others, and with the greater life force of the universe.


Recovery Focusing explores the principles and values of this pathway in a group way, using the three-phase  H.O.W. We Heal model for group process.

As a group model, participants stay in the group for the three phases, sharing and listening together. A new Focusing concept may be introduced during each Step. Or, groups may decide to simply use the H.O.W.We Heal model in a more open way, as long as it relates to recovery.

The three phases of the H.O.W. We Heal model are:

    • Honoring: Resourcing with a positive felt experience
    • Opening: Exploring what needs our attention, like a stuck pattern
    • Welcoming: Imagining (envisioning) what could be (recovery).

Listening is reflective and groups usually do round-robin sharing and listening (that is, they go around the circle).

With Recovery Focusing, we seek to compare and contrast the feel of the addictive process with the feel of healing and recovery. This gives us an embodied feel of the reality of both and clarifies our daily choice of returning to addiction or staying in recovery and enjoying the best of it. It is thus a gentle yet powerful practice for addiction counselors or others who wish to facilitate groups that aim to jump start recovery.

Here is a LINK with the Principles, Practices, and Promises of Recovery Focusing.

Here is a LINK to a Recovery Focusing Powerpoint.

LINK that summarizes in chart form the Steps and the H.O.W. We Heal model as applied to the Steps.

Feel free to visit the Recovery Focusing blog: The Felt Meaning of Recovery: Discovering our inner experience of recovery.

If you would like to learn H.O.W. To Facilitate these groups, please contact or visit

A manual on how to facilitate these groups is also available at (Recovery Focusing: A Manual for Group work).