The following three articles were written following a request from Gordon Adam, the Editor of the British Focusing Association (BFA) Newsletter for a column on The International Focusing Institute (TIFI). I agreed to do this with the caveat that the articles I’d write be considered an informal contribution from me as a member of the International Leadership Council (ILC – more about this in the first article) as opposed to something official from TIFI. It was also agreed that other members of the ILC and Catherine Torpey, Executive Director of TIFI would be able to comment on whatever I might write prior to it being published.

It is hoped that these articles might be able to give European Focusers and other readers of the EFA site a sense of some of the goings-on at TIFI in the past several years. Subjects covered in these “Non-Official Reports from The International Focusing Institute” include the International Leadership Council, the TIFI Membership Committee, the Gendlin Center, and the Felt Sense Conference.


Ruth Hirsch, MSW, MPH, CMT has been enjoying teaching Focusing internationally for over 25 years. Based in Jerusalem, Ruth is a Therapist and Focusing Trainer who shares Focusing online with therapists, coaches, and others as a life-enhancing practice as well as to enhance and deepen their work with clients. Besides teaching all levels of Focusing, she offers Guided Focusing Sessions and Focusing-Oriented Therapy to individuals world-wide both in-person and online.

www.ruthhirsch.comruth@ruthhirsch.com

You can download the articles here:
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A Non-Official Report from The International Focusing Institute (TIFI):
Some Highlights from the Past 5 Years

By Ruth Hirsch, Certifying Coordinator, Member International Leadership Council

Published in the British Focusing Association Newsletter, November, 2018

When Gordon suggested offering an overview of things happening in the TIFI world, my first thoughts were – there have been so many changes in the past 5 years, where to start? This brought me to the idea that it might be helpful to start off with a summary overview of some of the main activities and accomplishments of the past 5 years.

After Gene and Mary Gendlin resigned their administrative leadership positions in The Focusing Institute at the end of 2013, Catherine Torpey was named as the new Executive Director. At about this time it was decided that in addition to the Board of Directors there would be an additional leadership structure, the International Leadership Council (ILC).

The ILC was intended to be a body of leaders from the Focusing community who would not have the legal and financial responsibilities of the Board and at the same time bring more awareness to issues relating to the needs of the international Focusing community. It was determined at the outset that although the ILC would report to the Board, it was hoped that members of each body would view the other as colleagues and support one another. Members of the Board and ILC are all selected by a nomination process that can be read about on the ILC webpage, focusing.org/ilc. For more information about the Board, see focusing.org/board.

One of our first responsibilities was the design of a Mission Statement and Strategic Plan for the Institute. This process lasted a few years, with regular meetings of a smaller Strategic Planning group composed of representatives from the Board and ILC, who worked out details that were then brought to the larger groups. We also had a number of in-person and online joint meetings of the Board and ILC to work on various aspects of the Plan. First the Mission Statement, and then the Strategic Plan were also shared with the Coordinators, and then with members of the Institute for comments and input.

The Focusing Institute Mission Statement:

Why ‘Focusing’ ?
Everyone has the potential to access and live from their unique bodily-felt knowing.  Focusing, a process grounded in experiential listening, is a powerful way of interacting with this body-felt knowing that leads to mutual respect, authenticity and compassion.  In this way, Focusing fosters peace and harmony in the world.

Who We Are
The Focusing Institute is an international, cross-cultural organization dedicated to supporting individuals and groups world-wide who are practicing, teaching and developing Focusing and its underlying philosophy.

What We Do
The Focusing Institute is committed to the promotion of Focusing and encourages a wide variety of Focusing-based applications and educational methodologies. It also serves as a catalyst for Focusing research, an information hub and custodian of Focusing-related literature, and provides physical and virtual meeting spaces for education, dialogue and interaction.  In these and other ways, the Focusing Institute is committed to sharing and advancing the work of its founder, Eugene Gendlin, and those who have built on his legacy.

The Strategic Plan can be viewed or downloaded at at focusing.org/mission/docs/TIFI_Strategic_Plan_4-17_EN.pdf . At present, the Strategic Plan has been translated from English into 8 other languages which can also be found on the page with the Mission Statement.

The Strategic Plan can be viewed or downloaded at http://www.focusing.org/mission/docs/TIFI_Strategic_Plan_4-17_EN.pdf. At present, the Strategic Plan

The Strategic Plan can be viewed or downloaded at http://www.focusing.org/mission/docs/TIFI_Strategic_Plan_4-17_EN.pdf. At present, the Strategic Plan has been translated from English into 8 other languages. Links to these can be found on the page with the Mission Statement, focusing.org/mission.

Perhaps more relevant than the various projects the ILC has worked on is the fact that we are a team devoted as much as possible to ‘felt sensing’ and taking into account different perspectives of the Focusing community as well as the overall spirit of the community.

Based on the importance of Focusing training to our mission of bringing Focusing to more people world-wide, the ILC recognized a need for looking into issues relating to certification. It was decided that a first step would be to address the process of naming new Certifying Coordinators. Begun in 2016, this project looked at many of the very different ways that Coordinators are now being trained world-wide, and considered what processes might be most helpful to best support Focusing Trainers in taking on the responsibilities of the Certifying Coordinator.  A pilot phase began in January, 2018.

Other important milestones for the Focusing Institute included a name change to the International Focusing Institute, the creation of a Membership Committee charged with addressing membership benefits and creating new offerings for members, the creation of a memorial website for Gendlin, eugenegendlin.com, extensive work on a revised updated TIFI website, a Felt Sense conference, the beginning of the Gendlin Center for Research focusing.org/gendlincenter and much much more.


A Non-Official Report from The International Focusing Institute (TIFI):
An overview of the Membership Committee

By Ruth Hirsch, Certifying Coordinator, Member International Leadership Council 

Published in the British Focusing Association Newsletter, March, 2019

For this edition of the column on what’s been happening in the TIFI world I thought it might be interesting for readers to know something about the relatively new Membership Committee: it’s history, goals and a few of its accomplishments to date.

To prepare for writing this article I turned to Susan Lennox, one of the founding members of the Committee as well as it’s Chairperson for the first 3 years of its existence.

In late 2015, Susan was asked by David Rome, at that time the Director of the Board of Trustees for TIFI, and Catherine Torpey to take on the task of creating a membership committee. After Susan created and chaired the committee for three years, she turned the chair over to Mary Jennings, another former member of the board.

The goal of the committee is to offer more connection and value for membership in TIFI. The committee currently includes 13 members who represent a variety of countries, languages and perspectives.

Some of the projects that the committee has undertaken include creating and being in charge of the Focusing Roundtable series which is open free of charge to all members of the institute. There have been roundtables in English, Italian, and German. They are currently working on putting together programs in French and Greek as well. A related offering is the Cafecitos Webinar series in Spanish. In the past, more than half of roundtable participants have been outside the US.

Here’s are the titles of some roundtables that have been held in the past year:

  • Somatics and Focusing: Informing Each Other & Working Together
  • Focusing and Mindfulness
  • Bringing it All Back Home: How Focusing can Illuminate and Transform your Challenging Moments as a Therapist
  • Long-Term Focusing Partnerships
  • Focusing Research: Exploring the Realities and Possibilities
  • How Can Focusing Help Us Embrace Our Creativity?
  • Focusing and Cancer
  • Meet the TIFI Board
  • TIFI’s International Leadership Council: An Informal Dialogue

For professional members of TIFI, a series of Trainer Talks on topics including Research in Focusing, An Introduction to Gendlin’s Philosophy, How to Run a Virtual Changes Group, and How to Build your Focusing Business have been offered as a free benefit.

The membership committee is also working on reviewing and updating the focusing institutes Partnership Pool, which they have renamed The Partnership Network.

The next phase of the membership committee’s work will be to help with testing different aspects of the new website before it goes live. It is expected that the website will be lied and available for everyone sometime in the next several months.

In order to continue to build resources for members, the committee is interested in finding volunteers to help with various aspects of their activities. Thecommittee meets once a month; most of the work however is done by subcommittees between meetings.

For a comprehensive list membership benefits, please see: https://www.focusing.org/eShop/store_membership_benefits.asp


A Non-Official Report from The International Focusing Institute (TIFI):
An Overview of the Gendlin Center and the Felt Sense Conference

By Ruth Hirsch, Certifying Coordinator, Member International Leadership Council

Published in the British Focusing Association Newsletter, July, 2019

For this edition of the news about what’s been happening in the TIFI world I thought it might be interesting for readers to know something about the relatively new Gendlin Center and the Felt Sense conference: the history, goals and a few accomplishments of each.

To prepare for writing this article I consulted with Catherine Torpey, the Executive Director of TIFI who has been intimately involved in both endeavors.

 

The Gendlin Center

The seed of the idea for the Gendlin Center originated prior to Gene’s passing as the Board was concerned about the continuation of his legacy. Wishing to honor and move his work forward yielded a number of ideas. Eventually it was decided that what he and clinical psychotherapists would want most would be serious quantitative research proving that Focusing is an effective therapeutic modality.

It was thought that high level academic research would ensure that Focusing and Gendlin’s work in philosophy and psychology would have a place in academia as well as in clinical work.

The steering committee is comprised of five representatives from academia: Kevin C Krycka, Chair (Professor of Psychology at Seattle University), Akira Ikemi (Professor of Psychotherapy, Kansai University, Japan), Mary Jeanne Larrabee (Professor of Philosophy, DePaul University), and Rob Parker (Private Practice, New York). Leslie Ellis, the liaison from the TIFI Board, is also connected to academia.

A Request for Proposals was issued for the first Gendlin grant for original research in psychotherapy, and has recently been awarded to Siebrecht Vanhooren of the University of Leuven in Belgium. Seibrecht’s research will address how experiential openness is related to the meaning of life, the experience of existential givens, and depression.

Funding for the Center is solely by donations made directly to the Gendlin Center. Possible future endeavors include hosting a conference and/or the creation of a peer reviewed journal. Please see http://focusing.org/gendlincenter.asp for more information about The Gendlin Center.

 

The Felt Sense Conference

Following the special Memorial service for Gendlin in May 2017 there was a sense of wanting to continue to gather in honor of Gene as well as to delve further into the philosophy. The conference’s subtitle was ‘Bridging Philosophy and Practice’. The intention of the conference was to highlight discussion of Gene’s philosophy, along with a wide variety of ways in which it is applied.  Another goal for this conference was to attract people who are new to Focusing, so it was marketed to them as well as to seasoned Focusers.

The idea was to hold these gatherings in the same place as the memorial in New York City. This setting and the gathering held a number of advantages. It served as an opportunity for those who’d not been able to attend the memorial to be able to meet. Further, costs could be kept down by having the conference be both non-residential and located in a relatively central location in terms of ease of access for those flying in from outside of NYC.

After the success of the first Felt Sense Conference in May 2018 it was decided to hold another such conference in 2019, with hopes of possibly making this an annual event if it continues to be so successful.

The theme of the 2019 Felt Sense Conference was Creativity. As an example of some of the presenters and their presentations in this conference the two plenary sessions included Focusing, Creativity, and Being–Time with Robert Parker and In the Footsteps of Gendlin‘s Thought-Ways with Evelyn Fendler-Lee.

Readers are invited to be in touch with Ruth with ideas for future articles.

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