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This is a handout from the Trauma and Focusing course by Shirley Turcotte.

FOCUSING ASKING: Now that you have brought awareness into your body and found something that wants to communicate with you it is time to find out what it has to say. To this point, focusing is like meeting someone and learning his or her name. Now it is time to sit down with this inner part and learn its story. Typically, most of the session time is spent working in this focusing step. To find out what the felt sense is, you must ask it directly. This involves spending some time (a minute or so, which can seem very long) staying with the felt sense. Using the handle we make the felt sense vividly present and ask into it using open-ended questions. It is important to let the fast answers from our head go by and wait for an answer from the felt sense, the implicit self. Even the first implicit felt sense places may be vicarious memory pieces and you may want to get even under that to find your way to the authentic self places.

Waiting for a body shift is important in receiving the answer. The questions should be wide and open enough that the body has room and permission to offer up an answer.

An attitude of openness and curiosity is really important in focusing and at this stage of the process as well. Answers to questions will come. They may be surprising, unexpected, and unrealistic. It is very important to allow the answers to be, to have space and again to set aside the need to contradict and impose more 'logical' solutions. Allow the body to feel the 'rightness' of the answer.

Remember that the guide is not asking the questions, but is guiding the focuser to ask the felt sense a question.

The felt sense may not shift and answer right away. Take some time. What is crucial is the time spent sensing it. That is Focusing.

ISSUES OF SAFETY may need to be attended to throughout the asking stages. When, and only when, you sense the client may be overwhelmed or losing touch with their observer self you might ask: "Is it O.K. to be with the felt sense for a while?" or "Take a moment to be more comfortable being here with what is so uncomfortable" or " What do you need to be where it so uncomfortable?" or " What do you need to do to be able to sit beside this uncomfortable spot?" Help the client to hold a space for the felt sense without getting lost in it.

1.First try general questions that are broad and open-ended.

2.Then try crux questions that go for the essential aspect of what one is experiencing.


3. If there is some movement but it still feels unfinished ask foreword direction questions. These questions help nudge toward movement. Forward direction questions should not be used first. Rather, they should be used after time spent in crux. When used too soon these questions become a form of rescuing, taking away from the opportunity to acknowledge and be with something without getting the most from it.

One focusing session may have several cycles of Felt Sense/Handle-Asking, Felt Sense/Handle-Asking. Once you have a response to Asking, notice whether there is a new Felt Sense. Does it feel finished or is there something more?

If it feels like more, you can choose:

  1. To go on to find a Handle and be with a new Felt Sense.
  2. To provide closure by marking the place and agreeing to return to it later.

It is absolutely critical that the client is all the way back and in the present. On completion, ask the client to check in with their entire body and to see that every part is all the way back to being all "adult". Remember to also close the circle. Whatever they first brought into the room as an issue needs to be checked back into to see how it is now different and if there is a small step that they can see into about that now.

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