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FISS 2009: 4th Annual Focusing Institute Summer School

August 21 - 27, 2009 at Garrison Institute in Garrison, New York.

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Click here for more info in brochure (opens in a new window)

Read "How I Spent My Summer School" by Barbara J. Dickinson (opens in a new window)

Imagine yourself developing an 'emotional muscle' to deal with difficult situations that consist of fear, stress and frustration. Imagine yourself becoming your own best friend feeling safe and at home within yourself. By learning Focusing and making it part of your daily living, you dip into the implicit treasures of your body wisdom. Thus, you become a leader who chooses the right next step in challenging times.

Focusing comes from the pioneering work of philosopher and psychologist Eugene Gendlin at the University of Chicago. He studied why some psychotherapy clients improved while many others did not. It was found that successful therapy was not determined by the therapist's technique, orientation or the kind of problem being discussed. What did make a difference was what the client was doing internally. Successful clients were regularly checking inside themselves for a whole bodily felt sense of their situation.

In the years since Gendlin's first research, the use of Focusing has become a worldwide movement, with Focusing teachers and Focusing-oriented therapists in over 30 countries. People have used Focusing to deepen psychotherapy and personal growth, to enhance creativity and decision-making, to develop new ideas and theories in every conceivable field, to combine with bodywork and movement, and to enable us to connect and interrelate with others in more satisfying ways.

Ordinarily you'd have to travel around the world to study with these six master Focusing teachers... but this week they're going to be all in one place, creating an opportunity for going in depth with Focusing and many of its special applications: to health and healing, to thinking, to dreams, to psychotherapy, to spirituality, and much much more! New to Focusing? You're welcome too!

You'll be able to immerse yourself in the company of one teacher and sample all six... make it a time of intensive study or more like a holiday with lots of play and fun... and you'll be in a warm and connected community of Focusing people from all over the world.

The Summer School is appropriate for anyone, at all levels of Focusing, from beginners to Focusing teachers, for both personal and professional development. Bring a friend! When you register at the same time as your friend, you both get a discount. If you're a beginner (or just feel like one!), there will be opportunities for extra training and support all through the week.

We'll have Gene Gendlin with us for just one day, so we won't schedule anything else when he's with us. The other five teachers will each offer one five-morning course so they can go in-depth... and will each offer the same topic in an afternoon session, so you don't have to miss anyone. Each teacher will offer other topics and special workshops in the afternoons and evenings. All the workshops will be experiential and will include some or all of the following: play, creativity, community-building, and interaction. And of course lots of Focusing! (See the course descriptions below.)

The Teachers:

Eugene Gendlin has been honored three times by the American Psychological Association for his development of Experiential Psychotherapy. He is internationally recognized as a major American philosopher and psychologist. His book, Focusing, has sold over 400,000 copies and is in twelve languages. He's also a warm brilliant man who lights up a room with the quality of his listening.

Ann Weiser Cornell is the author of The Power of Focusing and The Radical Acceptance of Everything. She has been teaching Focusing around the world since 1980, and has a special interest in making the Focusing process clear and accessible to anyone. Ann is well known in the Focusing world for her attention to the language that facilitates Focusing, her popular manuals, and her co-creation with Barbara McGavin of Treasure Maps to the Soul, a body of work applying Focusing to difficult areas such as addiction, depression, action blocks, self-criticism, and unfulfilled desire.

Elena Frezza is a counselor and co-founder of the first Humanistic Counseling Institute in Argentina. She introduced Focusing into Argentina in 1990 and has been teaching it ever since as the primary person responsible for bringing Focusing to Latin America. Elena is popular internationally for her vibrant presence and her passion for presenting Focusing workshops in conferences and forums, especially in humanistic and experiential counseling. She has written many articles on Focusing, and is co-author of books such as: Crear Salud ' Curar Enfermedad and Manual Pr'ctico del Focusing de Gendlin.

Nada Lou has a double specialty in Thinking at the Edge (TAE) and Focusing. In recent years she co-presented TAE workshops with Dr. Gendlin and is in the forefront of spreading this new practice around the world. Nada has the ability to gently and patiently nurture each person's 'thinking edge', guiding them at every step. Author of the recently published Grassroots Introduction Manual to TAE, Nada is well known throughout the Focusing world for her videos that have brought the teaching of Gene Gendlin and other Focusing luminaries into our homes and offices.

Greg Madison teaches Focusing therapy workshops to psychotherapists across Europe and also maintains a private practice as a counseling psychologist and existential psychotherapist. He has written numerous articles on the integration of Focusing into therapy, usually with reference to Gendlin's process philosophy. Greg is an experienced clinical supervisor integrating Focusing and an emphasis on the therapeutic relationship into his work with supervisees. He is a member of graduate faculty at universities in Edmonton, Canada and London, England. As a Canadian living and working in the UK, he has a personal and academic interest in the experience of choosing to leave one's home country to live as a foreigner in another culture and how this impacts the feeling of being at home and belonging in the world.

Kevin McEvenue is internationally known for his development of Wholebody Focusing, bringing together the essential elements of the Alexander technique and Gendlin's Focusing process with his own unique genius. He is a beloved and popular teacher whose warm and generous heart can be felt by everyone in his presence. He lives in Toronto and is also an accomplished watercolorist.

Although as far as we know everyone scheduled will appear, the Focusing Institute reserves the right to withdraw or substitute teachers while maintaining the overall quality of the program.

The Courses


Ann Weiser Cornell: Focusing Level One
This course is a great start in making the empowering skill of Focusing a trusted part of your life. You will learn to self-guide in the Focusing process, become more deeply connected to yourself and be a more compassionate listener to others. We will build skills step-by-step with easy, empowering exercises. This is a golden opportunity to those interested in completing Focusing Level I, and also open to others interested in learning how to teach Level I. This is a rare opportunity to take Level One with Ann, who now teaches mostly Levels 3 and 4.

Elena Frezza: Pain, Chronic Symptoms, and Deep Emotional Healing
Focusing can lead to dramatic change in how we relate to pain or any chronic symptom. In this course, we will learn how to listen to the wisdom held within pain and chronic symptoms so they may guide us into healing. By making space inside to be with pain and listen to all its facets, accepting them as they are, we learn how to experientially discover pain's implicit felt meaning, and move forward in our lives in a way that was not possible before. You'll learn specific processes for yourself or for clients or family members who are suffering, including how to be with the hurt inner child who is often hidden inside the pain.

Kevin McEvenue: Wholebody Focusing - Discover the Power of Awareness in the Felt Sense of Grounded Presence
Wholebody Focusing is a natural process that invites the power of conscious awareness to awaken a dynamic inner wisdom, a knowing that is at the heart of every one of us. This bodily awakening to consciousness is experienced as an inner-directed movement that is purposeful and intentional, as though the body itself has a mind of its own. In this workshop you will receive an in-depth experience of Wholebody Focusing in its four key elements, and training in how to apply these elements as life skills in everyday living. You will be challenged at the level of your experience working in safe and supportive group exercises and partnership listening experiences.


Greg Madison: Focusing-Oriented Therapy
Open to counselors and psychotherapists who have some Focusing experience
This course will offer an opportunity to develop and deepen the way you integrate an experiential sensitivity into your existing therapy practice. We will explore various ways that felt sensing might feature within the therapeutic relationship. Greg will offer an existential and phenomenological emphasis that sees Focusing more as a way of being than a method, technique, or tool. It's not something we do to someone but more a way of being-with someone. During the week we will experiment with various exercises, demonstrations, practice, case supervisions, and discussion, in order for each person to further understand how they want to be a Focusing oriented therapist and to appreciate the many different ways we can actualize this.

Nada Lou: Thinking at the Edge - TAE Level One
Prerequisite: Three Focusing sessions with a Focusing teacher.
People come to experience that thinking from their felt sense is different from what they usually understand by thinking. This new practice is called 'Thinking at the Edge' (TAE). Can you imagine developing new ideas that will change the way people look at the world? It comes to you at that magical edge where you know something that has no words yet. It's about thinking and speaking from your own experience ' ideas that are right there, inside of you. Everyone has this capacity, but until recently, there was no structured way to do this. With the skills learned from this workshop, you can use the TAE method in many different areas of life: for business meetings, personal development, professional proposals, partnership dialogue, projects development, creative writing, family interaction, public speaking, educational events, negotiation skills, and in endless other ways.

The topic of every morning course will be repeated on one afternoon. Each teacher will offer additional topics in the afternoon time slot. Here are the ones we are planning:

Being-at-home & Being-not-at-home ' Greg Madison
Focusing as Prayer ' Nada Lou
'Because the World is Round' ' Nada Lou
Turning the Inner Critic into a Friend ' Ann Weiser Cornell
Focusing with Large Stuck Situations ' Ann Weiser Cornell
Storytelling to Develop the Skill of Heart to Heart Listening in the Felt Sense of Grounded Presence ' Kevin McEvenue
Focusing and Dreams ' Elena Frezza



Situated in the historic Hudson Highlands overlooking the Hudson River, the Garrison Institute occupies a large, newly-renovated monastery surrounded by tranquil forests and fields.

Dates and Times

We'll start with dinner on the evening of Friday, August 21, and finish with lunch on Thursday, August 27. There will be morning, afternoon, and evening sessions.

There will be an optional "Introduction to Focusing and the World of Focusing" on Friday, August 21 from 3:00 to 5:30 PM, taught by the whole faculty. Do join us at no extra charge.


$750 plus room and board

Special Discounts:

When two people register together, each person's fee is reduced by $50 (combined savings of $100).

Focusing Institute Members who have paid their 2009 dues get $25 off the tuition price.' Please contact Melinda Darer: melinda@focusing.org or 845-362-5222 if this applies to you.

Continuing Education:

This program has been approved by NASW - New York State for 25 contact hours under approval number A-206.


$150 administrative fee for cancellation. After June 21 all fees are nonrefundable except in unavoidable emergency.

Room and Board

The room and board fee is payable on or before June 21, and depends on your choice of single or double room. $720 single, and $600 double, for the six days and nights.


Garrison Institute is 50 miles north of New York City by car, and just over an hour from Grand Central station in New York City by commuter train. You'll receive directions for driving or arriving by plane and train when you register.


All workshops will be taught in English. A person attending in order to translate may receive some or all fees reduced depending on the number of people needing translation.

Questions and More Information

Questions, please contact Melinda Darer: melinda@focusing.org or 845-362-5222.

Click here for more info in brochure (opens in a new window)

Read "How I Spent My Summer School" by Barbara J. Dickinson (opens in a new window)

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Product Code: W-090821-FS


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