Several of the lecture-style presentations were professionally videoed at the First EFA Conference in Loutraki, Greece (https://efa2018.weebly.com/) and are now being edited for public presentation by Nikolaos Kypriotakis. With the permission of the presenters, we are happy to begin to share some of these offerings with EFA members and to make them available for the benefit of the wider Focusing community.
Lecture/Presentation: Beyond Rogers, Beyond Gendlin: Widening our Understanding of the Theory
Christiane Geiser (GFK, Switzerland) and Judy Moore (University of East Anglia, UK; Norwich Focusing)
Christiane and Judy have both worked as trainers for many years in their respective countries and have long familiarity with the Person-Centred Approach.
In this very personal joint presentation they explain first how they have come to appreciate Gendlin’s work through very different routes. Focusing and the Experiential Approach has always been integral to Christiane’s understanding of the PCA whereas Judy was ‘classically’ trained in the PCA and only ‘discovered’ Gendlin’s rich contribution to the theory comparatively recently. Her understanding of the PCA has always integrated a view of the person as a spiritual being who might live more completely in a state of ‘process’, open to a wider reality.
In the course of re-visiting these approaches, which were regarded as radical and inspiring in the 1970s and 80s, they consider some assumptions to be non-negotiable – and even more: they may be urgently needed in our contemporary societies.
On the other hand they look with critical eyes at some of the concepts and their practical implementation and discuss further developments, mainly in the field of “structure-bound manner of experiencing” (Gendlin), and their importance for psychotherapy, professional interaction and theory-building.
1st European Focusing Conference: “Facets of Focusing”
lives and works in Switzerland (Zurich and Ticino) as a psychotherapist and supervisor in private practice. # She is the co-founder (together with Ernst Juchli) of a post-graduate training institute for client-centered and experiential body-psychotherapy (GFK) in Zurich, where she still gives workshops and offers supervision. She trained people in the German-speaking Focusing Network for 30 years. She is also a Certifying Coordinator of the International Focusing Institute (TIFI). For 2 years she has worked as a mentor for Mia Leijssen`s online course “Existential Well-being Counseling: A Person-centered Experiential Approach”. # She writes articles about person-centred/experiential and body-oriented psychotherapy. She has translated Gendlin’s “A Process Model“ into German, together with Donata Schoeller, and edited a book about the GFK approach. For some years now she has been teaching and developing with Judy Moore knowledge about “structure-bound processes” for interested English-speaking persons. www.christianegeiser.ch
is former Director of Counselling at the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich, UK. She ran the University Counselling Service from 1998-2013 and was also Director of the Centre for Counselling Studies, based in UEA’s School of Education and Lifelong Learning, from 2003-2012. # She was trained in the person-centred approach in the mid-1980s, taught on the postgraduate Diploma in Person-Centred Counselling at UEA throughout the 1990s and was also responsible (together with Campbell Purton) for the development of Focusing training at UEA. # She is a Certifiying Coordinator of The International Focusing Institute and has a small private counselling and supervision practice, based in Norwich. She continues to write and teach, most recently with Christiane Geiser on character structures and stopped processes. She has also worked on the English texts and as a mentor for the University of Leuven Existential Wellbeing Counseling online course https://www.edx.org/course/existential-well-being-counseling-person-kuleuvenx-ewbcx-0.
Geiser, Christiane/Moore, Judy (2014) New Ways of Processing Experience. How to Work with Structure-Bound Processes. In Greg Madison (ed.), Theory and Practice of Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy. Beyond the Talking Cure. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, p. 130-145. From https://christianegeiser.ch/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/New-Ways-of-Processing-Experience.pdf
Over the many years of our professional lives as trainers and supervisors we have both re-visited the essentials of the person-centred and experiential approach many times. Each time we have learned more. Now that we have moved on from our respective institutions (in Switzerland and in the UK) we finally have more time to take our understanding to a new level. And we are especially aware of the contemporary social relevance of our thinking, which takes on particular urgency as the world around us seems to be ‘going mad’. # It is interesting to re-visit the origins of Rogers’ ideas and consider how Gendlin’s thinking has significantly expanded Rogers’ theory. But, like all radical approaches that relate to living processes, these concepts cannot simply stay the same in our ever-changing situations. So, while we remain inspired, we are also critical. We want to look with new eyes and breathe some fresh air into well-known concepts. #
Some assumptions of the approach we consider to be non-negotiable, but we have also found some ‘gaps’ in the theory- for example, there is a tendency to speak in generalisations (what would be helpful for all clients, what would be the source of all ‘disturbances’…). Our contention is that a more refined understanding of individual differences and an examination of how our interactions and our thinking are coloured by them will enable us better to understand ourselves and learn more about our successful and our failed communications. # Our main concern and curiosity is with the phenomenon of a ‘frozen’ or ‘structure-bound’ manner of experiencing, which means that processes in a shared interactional space need to be differentiated. Moreover, we find that all theory-building- including that of Rogers and Gendlin- might in itself be ‘structure-bound’!