Enhancing recovery with felt relating

Professional Focusing Oriented Therapy

Focusing Oriented Therapy for Addictive (Skipped) Process

Personality change is the difference made by your responses
in carrying forward my concrete experiencing.
To be myself I need your responses,
to the extent to which my own responses fail to carry my feelings forward.
At first, in these respects, I am “really myself” only when 1 am with you….

The continued carrying forward into ongoing interaction process is necessary
to reconstitute the experiencing long enough for the individual himself
to obtain the ability to carry it forward as self-process.

Eugene Gendlin 1964

By its very nature, felt sensing is already the opposite of skipped process. Felt meaning naturally fills the emptiness of addictive patterns. As we touch into and discover how we are living our situations, we change our relationship to those situations. Steps forward emerge from newly shifted states. Our body releases tensions and our minds find clear insights. We gain a new sense of possibility. Focusing in relationship has been proven to be the key to  lasting change (Gendlin 1964).

Peter Campbell of BioSpiritual Focusing writes, “process-skipping in our view may be the most powerful psychological component which locks all addictions in place and makes them so resistant to change.  Any therapy program working with addictions needs to explore process-skipping habits in the body, learning how to identify as well as how to grow beyond such undermining structures.” (Asilomar Focusing Conference 2011) Focusing Oriented Therapy (FOT) provides the relational and internal atmosphere for gently exploring our stuck patterns and allowing our bodies and minds to shift into new, healthy ways of being in the world.

Several Focusing Oriented Therapists work with substance dependence and compulsive behaviors. Here is a list of a few (with articles published on The Focusing Institute’s web page):

Jan Winhall (Canada) – Felt Sense Experiencing Model of Emotional Regulation

Alan Tidmarsh (United Kingdom)  – Being-with the being-without: relational focusing for substance misusers   Visit his page at The Focusing Institute

At the top level the substance abuse demands attention
as it erupts with explosive heat. Listening to what that is all about
allows a pause in the preoccupation of ‘addiction’.

The middle layer represents the habits supporting an ‘addictive’ lifestyle.
Many will be longstanding.

The crux of things is the powerful something welling up from below,
unclear, half felt in the stomach, ignored and rejected. What is that all about?
Alan Tidmarsh (2010)

Arlene Kahn (USA) – Focusing Oriented Addiction Treatment

James Day Doga (Costa Rica), Licensed Clinical Psychologist, uses Focusing Oriented Therapy and facilitates Recovery Focusing groups at Costa Rica Recovery Center in Costa Rica. “El Uso del Focusing como Herramienta para el Tratamiento de Adicciones.”

Beth Mahler, LCSW, FOT, CFT  is a Focusing Oriented Therapist in working with addictions, recovery, and traumatic growth.She is a Certifying Coordinator for the Focusing Institute and runs Two Year training groups toward certification.  She works via skype. You may contact Beth by email at

A few articles are found on the website of The Focusing Institute under  “Focusing and Addictions.”

Other relevant articles:

Inner Relationship Focusing

Focusing – Natural Living Center

Focusing Oriented Therapy as a path towards befriending feelings

Focusing Oriented Art Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress

Articles on Focusing Oriented Therapy in general


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