A Day Of Focusing
A Workshop with Donna Logan Van Vliet
By Barbara Janelle M.A.
First Published In Touch, Vol. VII, no. 1, March 1995
Those of you who attended the 1994 Therapeutic Touch Retreat will remember the powerful presentation that Donna Logan Van Vliet gave on Focusing. This autumn, Joyce Mingiardi, Sue Frid, Carolyn Buchanan and I took a private all day workshop with Donna on Focusing and found it to be one of the most important gifts we have given ourselves this year.
Focusing is a form of self-therapy that consists of steps of “felt change.” Eugene Gendlin wrote the first book, Focusing, based on fifteen years of research that he led at the University of Chicago. Donna studied with Drs. Peter Campbell and Ed McMahon, authors of Bio-Spirituality: Focusing as a Way to Grow.
Emotions are physical, but most of us deal with them mentally. As we rationalize and ignore our feelings, we succeed in storing them deeper in the body. Focusing allows us to get truer messages from our experiences, and to release a lot of the emotional baggage we carry.
Donna’s gentle exercises start with identifying the things that “keep me from feeling good right now.” After choosing one issue, time is given to find where it is felt in the body. The exploration continues to discover the qualities of this felt emotion–size, color, form, texture, etc. The emotion actually has an energetic aspect within the field–energy and form. This is neither good nor bad but is the body’s way of giving information. By allowing the emotion to express itself through place and felt form, and then by listening, watching and being with it, without a need to change it, significant shifts in self take place. The sense of lighten-ing that occurs by the end of the session is extraordinary and very deep.
The beauty of focusing is that it can be done alone or with someone else. It is a tool for self-care as well as one that can be offered to others. It is simple, profound and effective.
For years I have tried and watched others try various approaches of dealing with emotional baggage. With most techniques no perceptible shift occurs, i.e., the person tells the same story over and over again, for years and years. Focusing helps change occur.
Donna Logan Van Vliet is one of the finest Therapeutic Touch teachers in North America. With this background she brings an understanding of the energetic dimension to Focusing that makes her courses extremely valuable. She is a skilled therapist who delights in empowering others. I highly recommend Donna Logan Van Vliet’s courses in Focusing to Therapeutic Touch practitioners and teachers.
Gendlin, Eugene T. Focusing. New York: Bantam, 1978.
Campbell, Peter A. & Edwin M. McMahon. Bio-Spirituality: Focusing as a Way to Grow. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1985.
Focusing is an extraordinary tool for self-work, for counseling and for use within a TT treatment. I have studied and used this work for a number of years, and I attend a monthly Focusing group in London led by teacher, Mary Elizabeth Stearns. –BJ 2/99