Annual meeting in Abano Terme, Padua, 2017

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      Voices in preparation of our annual meeting in Abano Terme, Padua, 2017

      Abano Terme
      Here are some of the discussions that are taking place in preparation for our meeting in Padua.

      Judy Moore.
      How can we develop our own European university and/or certification without losing our diversity and richness?’ I think a more accurate representation of the question I really want to ask is: ‘How can we reconcile the paradox of not wanting EFA to be an institution (which serves business interests rather than human ideals) while also wanting to introduce some Europe-wide level of academic/ professional recognition to our work?’

      Meg (Maria Emanuela Galanti).
      In fact, I think that we should first discuss the ILC perspective on Coordinators. The idea of the University is a big jump ahead. So is the European system of certification in my opinion.

      Tine Swyngedouw.
      A European university/certification would be a big step and that is why it needs space for me to be talked about and to see how it can grow.

      I see the topic of a European System impossible to discuss without knowing the “US” way. So I would place first the group on the ILC proposal. What if all participants are happy with It (ILC) proposal?

      For me both systems can co-exist: All about TIFI is there and I want to stay part of that AND we can develop our own system, for example have a certificate for European focusing coaches (which TIFI does not have) or a course focusing oriented psychotherapy at our European university which gives you a European certificate as FOT as well as a TIFI certification as focusing professional. For me it is not TIFI or EFA. It is TIFI and EFA.

      Hejo Feuerstein.
      I agree that we should have time to discuss it personally, hopefully in Padua, as for the issues are intricate and are touching delicate issues. Some viewpoints by now:
      •To look at TIFI as “our”, the members´ and CCs´, institute which should be changed now in a real multinational organization, which is built on the work of Focusers and organizations in the world. By now, the understanding tends still to be an American Charity organization which is “selling” Focusing to customers in the world
      •A basic question for building a self-organization for me is: how can we make Focusing better seen in the public, in Europe. What can we do together better than as individuals, e.g. “Public Relations” for Focusing, developing collaboratively Focusing related concepts to improve solutions for societal issues, problems in our countries/in Europe? The energy we are putting in a European organization should include the hope that we as individual Focusers are more acknowledged and seen by others in our special contribution to problem-solving. And: do we have to take in account viewpoints and quality issues which are put by legal aspects and other professional organizations in Europe/our countries?
      •I would like to make use of our own methods to develop shared concepts, e.g. organizing TAE (in Germany we developed a Coaching approach based on TAE, called ECC-Experiential Concept Coaching…) workshops by EFA on special issues to meet the needs in our countries. I add a paper from 2015 made for the CC-meeting in Athens where I tried to describe steps in these directions; our European Focusing-oriented Coaching Program (FOC) develops along this schedule as an example. In the vision statement we made a difference between “accreditation of European Focusing programs” and “certification of participants who have completed an accredited program” – how to organize these processes within EFA is just an issue we want to discuss and decide by the example of FOC in Padua.
      •Disconnecting from TIFI might be one solution to resolve tensions which are deriving from a feel of “they there (in New York)” are putting constraining structures on us we are not wanting – instead, by now we can still try to be part of this process and put our ideas into the discussion and decision making. Nobody can restrict us to follow TIFI rules – even by now national Focusing organizations have their own rules how name Teachers etc. – but for a public appearance of Focusing in the world it could be helpful to have shared concepts what Focusing means and what are the common grounds of the practice of Focusing, Experiential Approach and TAE (aspects which are discerned in the TIFI Vision statement).
      For me there is also a big question: Do we have the energy and motivated Focusers enough to go through this energy costing process?

      For me, we do not need a permission of TIFI to think about actions and projects before we start thinking about European projects – of course we can think about our needs in Europe and then negotiate with TIFI, maybe in a shared, informing process. But even by now we had Focusing programs in Universities which did not need to be “allowed” by TFI. As long as Focusing organizations are releasing their own certificates, TIFI is only touched when TIFI-certificates are released. And of course it would make sense to have our worldwide organization like TIFI to have shared basic concepts, not to weaken the public impact we would like to have for Focusing.

      I would concentrate on understanding what the needs of the participants are. I would like to add that in Italy there is absolutely no national organization at all for Focusing and that anything that is being issued so far are “attestati di partecipazione” (accomplishments of courses). So, the whole thing of adding to the Focusing scenario another international organizatiaon that duplicates what TIFI is doing at world level in terms of certificates and diplomas is going to meet a lot of opposition. Even more so, if the organization speaks English and has therefore no possibility to reach the non-English speakers.

      I agree with your response and would like to invite more critical responses like yours, Meg. It helps us to realize where we are in our European Focusing Community and to discuss again and again the crucial issues we are talking about since seven years (within the European CC community…!), which might not become a mere repetition but an inclusive process where we can become more precise and more explicit about what we want. Not just rolling out a fixed concept which we don´t have behind, but from a process approach creating a shared concept about what we can do together to cross Focusing with our European living and making Focusing more known by applying it to relevant issues.
      We wanted from the beginning the concept of EFA to be a changing one, which develops by the needs and ideas of those who want to participate.
      By now, (inevitably?) we, the steering group, appear as kind of a board which is setting goals and controls directions without being mandated for that by the EFA community – though we (tried to) avoid that kind of „leadership“. There might be a felt difference when we as members of the steering group are proposing issues and proposals from others who are not part of the steering committee – as if there are already plans and silent decision making processes behind.
      Maybe we should open the steering group meetings up for every EFA-participant who might be interested, e.g. by gathering agenda points before and then have fixed dates for meetings. Or having people from more European countries within the steering group who are connecting to their people, which would make it also easier to cope with the multilingual communication issue especially in Europe.
      I guess, we are on the right way to pave our way by going on, step by step…

      I and may be 2 of other Italian colleagues would die to see :
      1) a more engaged Focusing, 2) a more evidence-based appraisal of Focusing with empirical and observational research being done to this effect, 3) a participation of Focusing to European calls for projects in the social and cultural sectors. So, I am pretty clear that the certification issue is not one of the issues we should be concerned about right now as it does not help the inclusion of more and more Focusers. I would concentrate on understanding what the needs of the participants are.

      Pavlos Zarogiannis.
      The most important issue for me is that of Coordinators. And I’m not talking about the process of becoming a Coordinator only. My main concern is if we really need these kinds of ‘titles’. Many in our Focusing Community talk about equality, free decisions, diversity and so on. But the system we have (and tolerate?) seems to me like a caste system with a clear hierarchy with the Institute on the top and the trainees at the bottom. The Institute has all the power to make choices and decisions and we are called members, although we are not really members. And we have no rights at all.
      And my problem even with this new proposal for coordinators is that I should say my opinion for the process of becoming a coordinator, although there is nowhere a clear or even unclear ‘description’ of what a coordinator is or has to do, except of spreading Focusing to the world and bringing members to the Institute.
      The worst thing for me is my disappointment and my frustration, because all these things have been told to Mary years ago and to Catherine now and there was/is no change at all. Personally I’m involved in this EFA project, because I still don’t want to lose hope and resign completely and of course because I’m lucky to have colleagues with me that I really like and respect.

      What is very important to me in Padua is that we should listen to what people have to say, hear what their hopes and dreams for the organisation are (and what they’re willing to put into it). Nothing will work unless it’s driven by passion and commitment – as with the inspiring example of Hejo and Aukje’s ‘coaching’ project. I have a very real concern that if the notion of an ‘organisation’ feels too strong something very precious will be ‘lost’ from EFA (something very precious that is reflected in the Vision Statement).

      For me, it is still an issue how to go on with organisational units within EFA, like Academy/University as a European umbrella for training/study, or European Meetings like Summer Schools, or European task/project groups etc. To put it on the EFA agenda does not mean that everybody in EFA has to be interested or agree in all actions, but just let the concepts and actions emerge from bottom up. So composing an agenda for the assembly is a collection of ideas which are open for discussion, and we can form project/interest groups in Padua which are organised by those who are interested….

      In my opinion what we have to do in Padua and in the future is to gather our energies around what TIFI does not do at all (like scientific research, ethical codes, dealing with conflict between opposite views in society at large and in the community, dealing with intercultural relations between Muslims and non-Muslims) rather than around what TIFI does not do well (certification).
      If we manage to build an alternative and practically successful way to spread Focusing, the organisation will grow from that and we could be honest when we say, with Tine, that we want TIFI and EFA.

      I want our role to be a responsive one. How do we facilitate what is wanted by the membership? I think task groups will grow out of our meeting together. And it will be the particular people who meet this time that will help to carry forward what their needs and wants are. I see the role of the steering group could be a networking one, following up on decisions made, and communicating progress during the year through newsletters etc.
      I would like to start the meeting with an attunement and sharing, and from that we can group together to form interest groups, much like we did in Athens and Tübingen.
      Also I think it is good to get the conversation going well in advance. I see how lively this email discussion has become, and yet it is only a handful of us involved in the discussion. I would like us to widen access, and include more people in our discussions. I notice that we are not using the web site. I agree that we should put the main points online so that people can see there are interesting issues to explore.

      It is clear by now: for me TIFI is in transformation and EFA is a new plant growing. TIFI and EFA will need to find a way to work together on bringing focusing into the world. We both need each other to have a stronger voice in the world spreading focusing, so I hope there will be a way to respectfully cooperate.

      And in London in 2012 we agreed to work with a rotating steering group. Each year someone would leave and someone new would come in. This gives change and continuity, we need both. I do not know why this never happened. And I’m not saying we need to go back to our decision of London but I feel there are advantages of a rotating steering group. People will better understand that we make a space for EFA but are not the ones who will steer and take decisions without talking to the members and reaching consensus together.

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