Note from the Board

Dear friends,

As a world-wide community of Focusers, we are drawn closer together by sharing the life-changing events of these last weeks and months. The novel coronavirus is not just something that we hear about in the news, but rather something that has affected our daily lives in very personal ways. We face a threat that has prompted us to change our behaviors almost overnight. It can feel like we have stepped out of our lives and into some strange new reality. And, we face the uncertainty of how long this will go on and whether, once it's gone, it could return. We just don’t know.

At the same time, we have been inspired to see the ways that so many people adapt. People are reaching out to family, friends, and affinity groups in new ways to offer and receive support and connection. We know how very valuable Focusing is at times like this. We need it ourselves, and we are eager to help others to navigate these difficult times. As the Board of the Institute, we are grateful for our staff and volunteers (including members of the Membership Committee, the International Leadership Council and others) who have set up a number of online gatherings, some for the public, some for Coordinators, and several in various languages.

We also know that many of you have found creative ways to reach out to others. These connections are meaningful to people and a useful reminder to use our Focusing skills for self-support and to support others by listening in our Focusing way. If you are a certified member of TIFI, please consider uploading your offerings to our website so that as many people as possible will find them.

At TIFI, we are grateful that so much of our work is online, and proud that we've been part of helping our teachers become familiar with Zoom long before this crisis. We have re-scheduled our Weeklong to August, and might have to change plans for other in-person events that have been planned for later in the year, doing more online. We are naturally worried about how this all might affect the Institute's finances; we know you are probably facing financial worries yourselves.

At this time we are all needing empathy, mutual support and trust as we face the unknown. This is what our Focusing practice has prepared us for. We are grateful for each one of you. We are in this together and will come out of it together.

With care, concern and hope,

TIFI Board -
Leslie Ellis (Acting President, Canada), Hanspeter Muelthaler (Treasurer, Switzerland), Peter Afford (UK), Nancy Falls (Canada), Nelle Moffett (USA), Paula Nowick (USA)

NOTE: Paula Nowick has resigned as President of the Board. Leslie Ellis has stepped up as acting Board President.
The Advanced and Certification Weeklong 2020

The Advanced and Certification Weeklong returns to the Garrison Institute in Garrison, New York, in August 2020.

We are cautiously hopeful that it will be safe to be together in August but, of course, we are keeping a close eye on developments. Please keep checking back. For the moment, our plan is to be together if it is safe to do so.

This is the 50th Weeklong that the Institute has offered over the last 40 years! Come be a part of this historic occasion.

The Weeklong is intended for advanced Focusers and those who have received or are receiving certification.

More details and registration information can be found here.

"Saying What We Mean"
Academic Symposium
on the Work of Eugene T. Gendlin

OCTOBER 30 - NOVEMBER 1, 2020
Seattle University (Seattle, WA, USA)


Call for Papers



The "Saying What We Mean" symposium is now planned for October 30 - November 1. As with other in-person events, we are watching developments with this global pandemic, and we will update the event's web page if changes are made to our plans.

Paper proposals due June 30.

The Departments of Psychology and Philosophy at Seattle University, in partnership with The Gendlin Center of The International Focusing Institute, are proud to announce a symposium advancing the work of Eugene Gendlin. We invite participants to explore the implications of Gendlin’s posthumous collection Saying What We Mean: Implicit Precision and the Responsive Order (2018) . This extraordinary collection, edited by Edward Casey and Donata Schoeller, brings together a series of essays demonstrating Gendlin’s creative and insightful ability to balance conversations across a wide range of voices in philosophy and psychology.  We are delighted that Dr. Schoeller will be one of our featured speakers.

Gendlin had a unique capacity for thinking “at the edge” of conceptual formulations. He was able to discover, in words and concepts, an evasive connection between idea and experience. Gendlin sought to open up phenomena by exploring ideas that can only be thought in the mode of embodied practice. Gendlin’s hope was that he might awaken an appetite in his readers, a yearning to understand how “the experiential side always exceeds the concepts.” In this regard, Gendlin invites expansive efforts to explore embodied thinking and experiencing. 

In Saying What We Mean , Gendlin leaves for us a collection of intriguing enactments of this embodied thinking with essays ranging across the spectrum of his adventurous thinking. Though all paper proposals working with Gendlin’s thought are welcome, we particularly solicit investigations into the four main themes of Saying What We Mean :

  • Phenomenology of the Implicit
  • A Process Model
  • On the Edges of Plato, Heidegger, Kant and Wittgenstein
  • Thinking with the Implicit 

If interested in presenting a paper at the conference, please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words by June 30, 2020.   Please include your name, institution, degree, specialization, and contact info on a separate document, as well as any audio-visual equipment you may require. Presentations should be approximately 40 minutes in length, and presenters should anticipate facilitating conversation after their paper is given.

Registration will be through The International Focusing Institute . Information on registration and suggested hotels will also be available soon there, as well as on the Seattle University Psychology department homepage .

Please send submissions and any inquiries to Dr. Kevin Krycka at gendlinsymposium@seattleu.edu .
Helene Brenner, PhD Talks About a
New Focusing App "My Inner Voice"

By Ann Weiser Cornell

Expanding the reach and accessibility of Focusing with
My Inner Voice  

Helene Brenner, PhD is a psychologist and Focusing Coordinator from Maryland, USA, and has been a Focusing-oriented therapist for nearly 30 years. She previously brought Focusing practices and principles to a wider audience with her book, I Know I’m in There Somewhere: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner Voice and Living a Life of Authenticity (Penguin USA, 2003), which sold nearly 30,000 copies, and is continuing that work with her newest project - an app called My Inner Voice. Ann Weiser Cornell recently talked with Helene about My Inner Voice and her mission to bring Focusing into people’s daily lives. 

How did you get the idea to do an app with Focusing exercises?

It all started when a young woman from Dubai contacted me. She had been given my book, I Know I’m in There Somewhere , by her therapist. It had helped her and changed her life so much that she wanted to meet me. An IT professional, she was going to a conference in New York and decided to come down to Maryland where we met for lunch. In our conversation, she mentioned that many people around the world wouldn’t be able to read an entire book in English; however if I recorded the innercizes that I had created for the book and put them into an app, the book’s concepts could become a great self-help tool. That sounded like a terrific idea to me.

What was the process of creating an app like for you?

A lot more complicated than I expected! So much goes into the development of a high-quality app. There was the initial vision of how the app would work – what it would offer and how it would lead people through the innercizes. Then there was adapting the innercizes from the book, recording and mixing them with the music, creating the design and programming. There were times when I had different groups of people working on the app in several countries seven time zones away from me.

Is the app just for people new to Focusing, or people who know Focusing already, or both?

The app is designed to help Focusers, or anybody, get in touch with their felt senses, their inner places, and give them compassionate presence and attention. 

We Focusers understand how wonderful it is to let ourselves stay with those inner places, and what amazing things happen if you let yourself be with those places for a little while and listen to them. When you do, they shift, they change, and even what was felt at first as “negative” turns into something that shows us the path forward.

This is something the vast majority of people have never experienced – not even many meditators. This is not to say that meditation doesn’t have its value because it definitely does, but meditation doesn’t show people how to pay attention to a felt sense and have it shift in the way that Focusing does. That’s one of the reasons I wrote my book in the first place - to explain to a wider audience the power of acknowledging and being with something within in a compassionate way. 
So how, specifically, do people who know Focusing make use of your app?

My hope is that these recordings of my guided Focusing exercises in my voice will help Focusers “drop down” into their bodies and allow their own inner knowing to emerge. We don’t always have a Focusing partner available, and I designed it hoping that the app can be your “Focusing companion.” I also believe it’s helpful that I have different innercizes to help you with different issues. For example, when you’re feeling hard on yourself and critical of yourself, you can listen to the “Softening to Yourself” innercize, and when you are working on determining what you really want in your life, you can listen to “Intro to Wanting.”

What is your vision for how apps like this can bring Focusing to a wider audience?

The app breaks down Focusing in ways that could make it more accessible to people. For example, I start the app with a very simple “Awareness Break,” which is a three-minute opportunity to “get in touch” with whatever’s going on inside and acknowledge it. It’s valuable in itself, but it’s also a good way to get people who aren’t Focusers to begin to build that inner awareness. Sort of a beginner exercise for someone who hasn’t exercised before. 

Then, in the middle third of the app, in a section I call “Going Deeper: The Five Pathways of the Inner Voice,” I have two other innercizes that fully break down the Focusing process and guide the listener through it. These could be helpful for Focusing on your own without a partner, and it may be helpful to Trainers wanting to give new Focusers an aid while learning the process.  

My Inner Voice has the potential to put Focusing on par with other inner awareness processes that are being discovered by so many people today through apps such as Calm, Headspace, and The Mindfulness App. Focusing belongs out there, helping people sense inwardly in these stressful times.

Tell us a bit about some of the exercises (you call them “innercizes”) that are found on the app, and the other features.

There are 18 innercizes in all. After the first “Awareness Break,” I have two innercizes – one that introduces the ABCs of the Inner Voice – Acknowledgment, Being With, and Compassion – and a second that’s the ABCs of the Inner Voice Attunement. The ABCs, to me, are the fundamental building blocks of Focusing. They are also simply a wonderful way for a Focuser to stay connected to their inner self in the midst of a busy life. You don’t always have the luxury of time to do a 20-minute Focusing session, but you can spend five minutes doing the ABCs. The ABCs, in fact, were originally developed back when I had both a full-time practice and two little children. I definitely did not have much time for leisurely 30-minute Focusing sessions! 

One of my favorite innercizes that I included is what I call “The Voice of the Larger Self Attunement.” It’s a more “advanced” attunement, one that I suggest users follow after they’ve mastered some Focusing basics. “The Voice of the Larger Self” was the last development in the writing of the book. It became clear to me that we have within us something spiritual, something that goes beyond our body-based awareness of what we know, sense, feel and want, and this aspect of us has something to share with us as well – and what it shares is a deeply compassionate understanding of our total selves spanning our entire lives. “The Voice of the Larger Self Attunement” helps to evoke that Voice and empowers it to become part of our lives. I’ve used the “Voice of the Larger Self Attunement” in good times and bad, and it has helped me find peace in a sometimes very confusing and frightening world. I’m very glad I included it here.  

A feature I am very happy about is that the app has a place where you can write or voice-record your reflections on what you received from doing that innercize at that time. You can write or record as many reflections as you want on every innercize that you do every time you do it, so the app could become a running diary of your self-growth. Of course, this feature is completely private and data-protected.
One more thing… how can people get the app?

It’s called My Inner Voice, and you can get it from Apple’s App Store for your iPhone, iPad or Mac. If you’re not an Apple user , or would simply prefer getting just the innercizes themselves without the app, you can download all the innercizes in MP3 format from my website, helenebrenner.com . You can get them with soft meditative background music, which is how they appear on the app, here . Or if you prefer, you can download a version with just my voice and no background music here
Ann Weiser Cornell is the author of  Focusing in Clinical Practice: The Essence of Change,  and offers Focusing training by Zoom Worldwide at focusingresources.com.
Update from the International Leadership Council


The International Leadership Council (ILC) is the body that holds an intentionally international place in the leadership of the Institute. At the moment, the members are from Belgium, Chile, Mexico, mainland China, Israel, and one person who is German and living in the USA. In the past, we've also had members from Quebec, Japan, the UK and Switzerland. As an organization based in the USA yet serving a world-wide constituency, it is crucial to have this diverse group of thoughtful and dedicated people meeting regularly to discuss issues of importance to the worldwide Focusing community. They have been meeting twice a month for six years

The ILC has put much of its attention on the role of Coordinators and the place of certification at the Institute. Coordinators are those who have the authority to grant certification through TIFI. The Strategic Planning process that the organization went through from 2015 to 2017 articulated great questions about what role or roles that Coordinators should take in the Institute, and the ILC has proceeded to considering these questions in a deliberate and consensus-oriented manner.

Their latest effort, in collaboration with the Board, is this document, which seeks to clarify some policies of the Institute regarding Coordinators. If you are a Coordinator, please take time to look it over and ask any questions or make any comments by writing to the ILC at ilc@focusing.org .

The members of the ILC serve with great dedication. Ruth Hirsch and Sergio Lara are nearing the end of their terms, having been dedicated members since the ILC was created in 2014.

Current members:
Evelyn Fendler-Lee (Germany/USA)
Ruth Hirsch (Israel)
Sergio Lara Cisternas (Chile)
Roberto Larios (Mexico)
Claude Missiaen (Belgium)
Yongwei Xu (China)

Past members:
Marine de Fréminville (Canada)
Heinz-Joachim (Hejo) Feuerstein (Germany)
Akira Ikemi (Japan)
Barbara McGavin (UK/USA)
Donata Schoeller (Switzerland)
By Serge Prengel

In this short piece, Rob Foxcroft describes the felt sense as "a spurious metaphysical object.”


Browse through upcoming events submitted by the worldwide Focusing community.