Setting up a local Focusing group
Having discovered the value and benefits of Focusing in an introductory course or workshop, you may wish to develop and support your Focusing practice by being part of a local group.
There are a few local Focusing groups already in existence (see ‘groups’ listing) some of which have been running for many years, however there may not be a group in your locality. In this case you may wish to consider starting a new group. This article contains some ideas about setting up and running such a group.
A place to meet
Ideally you will need a quiet and pleasant environment for your group to meet in. Initially, especially if you only have a few group members, someone’s home living room might be suitable. If people are willing, perhaps the venue could rotate round members’ houses. Ideally you will need a venue with separate spaces/rooms for 1-1 Focusing. It is possible for a number of people to Focus in pairs in a hall but this can easily become a noisy and distracting environment! For instance, for a group of 6 people you would ideally need two or three separate Focusing spaces so that people could Focus in pairs or in threes.
How many people do you need?
Some groups have run successfully with just a few regular members meeting over a period of years, however a larger group generally generates more energy and provides a richer group experience. Also a larger group puts less pressure on everyone to attend each session. The dynamic of the group will change with more people – for instance if you want to include some sort of sharing or discussion in your group, some people may feel more reticent to speak in a larger group. Most groups are probably in the range of 4–10 people.
If your group is very successful and numbers feel too large you could consider meeting more frequently e.g. fortnightly instead of monthly
The form of your meetings
Typical component parts of a Focusing group include any combination of the following: a period of silent sitting/arriving/landing (e.g. 5–15min); group ‘check-in’, where each person has a few minutes to introduce themselves and share with the group; Focusing in pairs or threes; a tea break; some input or discussion on a Focusing theme – this could be listening/watching an audio or video recording, someone reading something, or a short talk by someone in the group or a guest speaker; re-forming as a group after Focusing for a closing sharing session. Actual Focusing time would generally be for around half of the total meeting time (e.g. typically 60 – 90 minutes)
When and how often to meet?
Most groups probably meet for two or three hours once a month, but some groups meet fortnightly or weekly, and some may meet for a whole day, including sharing lunch together. Meetings are usually on a weekday evening or a weekend daytime.
Attracting Focusers to the group
You could: contact any local Focusing teachers and ask them to publicise your group amongst their trainees; have your group listed in the BFA website and newsletter; make use of various Facebook Focusing platforms (e.g. BFA Focusing Forum); advertise on ‘find a Focusing partner’ sites e.g. on the BFA website, on Facebook. If you are a BFA member, or have a BFA member in your group, they could circulate news of the group within the BFA membership with an invitation to let non-BFA members know about the group.
What about people who are new to Focusing?
Most groups require some basic experience of Focusing and companioning as a prerequisite for membership. A few groups are open to anyone regardless of Focusing experience – this requires someone with more experience being willing to take time with newcomers and introduce Focusing.
Alternatively new people could be paired up with more experienced willing Focusers for 1-1 Focusing. Another way to open your group to those new to Focusing is to organise a teacher, or experienced Focuser to run a local ‘Introduction to Focusing’ class, e.g. as a day, half-day, or weekend workshop, or a weekly evening class.
Teacher-led or peer-led group?
Some groups are set up and facilitated by a Focusing teacher or practitioner. In this case a charge may be made to participants by the teacher. Other groups are peer-led, have no designated leader, and no money is involved (other than possible rental of premises).
Open or closed group?
Some groups remain open to newcomers on a month by month basis, and some, once the group is established and settled, opt to stay ‘closed’, perhaps with the members making a commitment to attend regularly (barring illness).
A closed group has the advantage of more effectively building a sense of safety and trust where people get to know each other and their issues more deeply. However if one or two people eventually leave the group it may be difficult to continue with reduced numbers.
An open group has the advantage of new people being able to attend and therefore more likely for numbers to stay up and for such a group to continue over a longer term.
If your group grows in numbers, you may need to consider hiring a suitable venue on a regular basis, with the hire cost being shared by group members.
As already mentioned, you will ideally need a venue with separate spaces for 1-1 Focusing. Complementary health clinics are ideal venues as they have a numbers of rooms available and they are often little used on evenings and at weekends (especially on Sundays). Other possible venues might be: a church hall or meeting room; Quaker meeting house or premises run by a Buddhist or spiritual group; a school hall; a room/rooms in a community centre.
Group organisation & keeping people informed
It can be helpful, especially for larger groups, to identify different roles or tasks within the group structure and organisation, and to get individuals (or committees) to undertake these roles for an agreed period of time. Such roles might be: secretary (dealing with any correspondence & newsletter); contact person (dealing with enquiries about the group); treasurer (dealing with all the financial aspects of the group including the bank account if this is needed).
Ways of keeping people informed of meetings include: a regular e-newsletter; a group website; a WhatsApp group; a Facebook group. These things require someone to act as admin/moderator.
It is also possible for your group to hold a Focusing retreat for a day, a weekend, or longer, perhaps at someone’s home (using the garden as a space for Focusing at warmer times of year). This could be led by a Focusing teacher, or ‘self-led’, where everyone attending the retreat agrees to a pre-determined schedule of periods of Focusing, group sharing, meditation, etc, and there could also be some Focusing input or led sessions.
Retreats could be held partly in silence to support a deepening of experience. People can bring lunch to share for a one-day retreat.
See the article ‘Focusing Groups Today – A Review’ by Gordon Adam