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Changes Groups

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As a service to the international Focusing community, The International Focusing Institute provides this space for the posting of dates and times of ongoing Changes Groups. Changes Groups meet to share and practice Focusing either with or without a facilitator. The International Focusing Institute does not monitor, and is not responsible or accountable for the following groups. However, individuals listed as Certified Trainers have been certified by the Institute to be highly competent Focusing teachers.

Are you holding a Changes Group that you would like listed here? Email our webmaster with the particulars.

Please also visit our Bulletin Board which lists Focusing-related workshops not offered by the Institute. For information on Institute workshops, please refer to our Workshops page.

Changes Groups or Listening/Focusing Communities

Kathleen McGuire-Bouwman

In the early 1970s, when Eugene Gendlin was trying to define Focusing as a skill that could be taught to everyone, Gendlin’s students and others got together to form a crisis hotline and supportive community where everyone was invited to learn the basic Focusing and experiential listening skills. The basic training took place in small groups, and, after the initial training, many people enjoyed meeting for listening and Focusing exchanges in a small group format. The first such group was called “Changes,” and such communities have continued to be called Changes Groups.

The Focusing in Community: How To Start A Listening/Focusing Support Group Manual and its Spanish translation Focusing en Comunidad are both available from The International Focusing Institute website. They describe the basic listening and Focusing skills, the equal taking of turns, how to find potential members to start a Changes Group, and how to resolve interpersonal conflicts or group decisions.

While Focusing can be experienced in Focusing-Oriented Therapy, practicing alone, or in a Focusing Partnership, Focusing in the context of a Changes Group adds the dimension of supportive community. Instead of just one Focusing partner or therapist to rely on, Changes members have from six to fifteen or twenty Focusing partners to draw from. They can have weekly or monthly meetings. Participants begin in the larger group for “check-in,” where each person spends about three minutes updating everyone on what’s happening, then break up into pairs to exchange Focusing and listening.

Group members can also participate in other activities with each other, knowing that the understandings underlying listening and Focusing allow them to share from their felt experiencing in all kinds of situations. For instance, going to a movie together can lead to a deep sharing of participants’ felt senses. The group can hold space in support of members going through difficult times, like chronic illness, job loss, or divorce, which may be too much for one Focusing Partner to help with.

Listening and Focusing skills can also be used to work out interpersonal conflicts and for collaborative decision-making. In this way, a Changes Group can be a safe place to practice before carrying these skills over into the larger world.

CHANGES GROUPS: Safe Companioning in Community by Suzanne L. Noël, B.A., CFT, CFC

More Articles on Focusing Communities

Some Group Experiences

Virtual Phone Meetings

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In-person Meetings

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Articles on Focusing Communities

Teaching Focusing and Focusing Communities: Our Way of Teaching Which Resulted In 17 Focusing Communities  by Mako Hikasa

Tips for building and continuing a Focusing Community  (Work book appendix for above article in Japanese)  by Mako Hikasa

Some Group Experiences

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