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13th Oct 2023

Saying ‘no’ in presence: Setting limits through body sense. In Kypriotakis, N. and Moore J. (Eds), Senses of Focusing. Volume II. Athens: Eurasia Publications, pp.469-483.

Bodywork Decisions Philosophy Therapy Trauma

Any ‘no’ of a client can express a primary organismic No that has an implicit life enhancing target. The client tries to communicate that he or she is missing something that allows his or her body to make it’s living along with others. Expressing ‘no’ can create irritation, confusion or anger in everyday life and in a clinical setting. It may feel necessary to try and overcome a ‘no’. The chapter shows that two phases of ‘clearing a space’ allow the life yearning power of a ‘no’ to come into effect: The phase of ‘taking up space’ as a woman or a man in a very concrete and embodied way, and the phase of creating space usually known as ‘clearing a space’. Both phases enable the client to own his or her self-in-presence aligned to personal boundaries and to meet his or her self-esteem fully. A Focucing exercise on how to introduce the first phase in counselling and psychotherapy is presented.

Key words: primal No, organismic self-protecting shelter, stoppage, interactive responsiveness, dimensions of therapeutic presence, two-step process of coming into self-in-presence, aligning to one’s space and demarcation, existential self-expression, intermodal Focusing with the arts

The ìllustration (Owning one’s Front Garden © focuszart) shows internalised demarcation consciousness

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6th Apr 2023

Grief and Children

Bodywork Introductory Therapy Trauma

This article provides an explanation of Focusing, which contains many guidelines on how to be with children’s grieving process and what is supported for their process. Mourning needs time, space and attention and you cannot: “go faster than the slowest grieving process”! As a parent and as a therapist, that is helpful to realize

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20th Mar 2023

The Art of Listening! A Dynamic Expressive Proces.

Bodywork Therapy Trauma

The added value of Focusing for the Focusing Oriented Professional and Art Therapist in working with adults and children. Harriet Teeuw and René Veugelers


Focusing is a well-known approach in the world of psychotherapists. In the practice of the therapist, however, the application possibilities of Focusing are not yet very clear. In our work as art therapists, we experience the added value of Focusing in practice on a daily basis, because it is a body- and experience-oriented approach, applicable in all forms of (art) therapy. In this article we highlight the added value of Focusing for the therapist. We explain how Focusing originated and discuss a number of key concepts from the approach and philosophy. In two cases we elaborate on how we apply Focusing in our work.

In this article

  • The discovery of the Focusing approach;
  • How the Felt Sense brings the client forward again;
  • How Focusing helps occupational therapists to be an interaction themselves that makes clients better and helps them move forward.


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3rd Apr 2021

Focusing, Feldenkrais, and a little Polyvagal Theory

Bodywork Practitioner projects Trauma

Developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, Feldenkrais is a method of somatic education that effects neuromuscular re-patterning by directing attention to slow, gentle, often-novel physical movements.  By paying attention to such movements, unnecessary muscular tensions throughout the body can reorganize and release.  While primarily known as a method of somatic education, many Feldenkrais practitioners feel that the practice not only impacts posture, balance, and coordination but also connects us to an inner vitality that improves overall wellbeing.  It is understood to be a practice that impacts people on multiple levels.

Feldenkrais concentrates on “being with” or “in” movement.  Unlike some other physical movement practices, Feldenkrais is not about fixing something, strengthening something, or generally aiming to do something.  Yet, like Focusing, it is a practice that facilitates real change.

Change comes about through learning and according to Burton (cited in Felenkrais, 1949, p53) “learning, in the most general sense, is acquiring new responses to stimulii”.  In both Focusing and Feldenkrais, we acquire new responses by being aware of our inner experience and by developing an ability to “be with” that experience.  “Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change . . . is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going inside ourselves.” (Van der Kolk, 2014).

Both Focusing and Feldenkrais are experiential, body-based practices that are rooted in an understanding that very little of our human behaviour and inner experience is purely instinctive.  Much of what we discover in our inner experience was learned in interaction with the environment and is encoded in the body’s nervous system.  Nothing is fixed: it is ever-changing.

This article is based on my own experience of both practices and reflects on:

  • Feldenkrais and Focusing as mutually supportive practices.
  • How an understanding of the Polyvagal Theory can help access Presence

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