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Focusing-Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma Program

with Shirley Turcotte, Alexis Phillips and Shaun Phillips

In New York City Starting January 25, 2013

Taught from an Aboriginal-Indigenous perspective this advanced 21 day, seven module program uses Focusing-Oriented Therapy as a safe and effective method of working with clients who have experienced complex trauma.

If you are coming from out of the area, we can provide a list of hotels. There is limited space at the Alma Mathews House if you would like to arrange sleeping accommodations:

The Focusing-Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma Program emphasizes experience, knowledge, and application through classroom instruction, clinical practice (logged and supervised therapy sessions for those wishing certification through The Focusing Institute) and clinical supervision/observation. A variety of treatment modalities are woven throughout the modules, including experiential exercises, story-telling, ceremonial processes and land-based healing techniques.

In this podcast, Shirley Turcotte discusses Aboriginal Psychotherapy, a key aspect of the training approach in this program.

In this podcast, Alexis Phillips explains why Focusing Oriented Therapy is so effective in healing complex trauma and provides an overview of the upcoming training program.

Learn more about:

Lead Instructors: Shirley Turcotte, Alexis Phillips and Shaun Phillips (pictured above)
Co-Instructors Betty McCorkle, Rob Parker, Antoinette Rodriguez Smith, and DaRa Elebe-Williams

Betty McCorkle

Rob Parker

DaRa Elebe-Williams

Focusing-Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma

The teaching and practice of Focusing-Oriented Therapy in Complex Trauma (FOTCT) is gaining interest in the U.S. and Canada. There are an increasing number of therapists and practitioners utilizing FOTCT in the tri-state area, Western Unites States, and California. The Focusing Institute is pleased to offer this seven module training program for participants to learn and experience this compassionate, inspiring and effective approach for working with complex trauma.

The practice of psychotherapy is undergoing changes resulting from current research in neuroscience which underscores the importance of attachment, emotion, the body, and relationship in the healing process. Focusing-Oriented Therapy (FOT) offers well-developed techniques to enable therapists and practitioners to access body-oriented, internal processes that researchers are finding key to neural integration and change.

FOT is a body-centered and person-centered approach to healing that was developed three decades ago at the University of Chicago by Dr. Eugene Gendlin. It is a practice that is grounded in a philosophical paradigm Gendlin developed. This process enables therapists and practitioners to guide clients to sense into their bodies and into current-moment experiences to bring about what Focusing founder Gendlin calls 'life-forward' motion. FOT allows the client to be an active participant in their healing and empowers them to determine the pace, direction, and intensity of their journey to health.

Building on this approach, FOT in Complex Trauma was developed by Shirley Turcotte over the last 25 years in Canada by integrating an Aboriginal based, anti-oppressive, and culturally diverse worldview understanding. This current-day approach and practice of trauma treatment is inclusive of cultural, ethnic and spiritual awareness. It reaches beyond common assumptions that we are all the same regardless of our cultural ancestry and experiences. It connects with the unique diversity of histories and experiences of human beings. It expands the current concepts and understanding of complex trauma.

FOTCT can be particularly effective in the treatment and healing of complex trauma precipitated by accidents, natural and human-caused disasters, loss, sexual, physical, emotional abuse and/or neglect, institutional abuse, and inter-generational trauma and oppression. FOTCT teaches specialized skills for working with "speechless trauma" that has become "stuck" at earlier developmental stages and that interferes with functioning satisfactorily in one's present life. These skills facilitate the release of body-held trauma and the integration/metabolization of the experience of mind/body once the release has completed so that life can move forward toward healing and a greater sense of well-being.

To know more about this approach to trauma and how it is being applied see:

Who Should Attend

This program will benefit those who are interested in developing advanced clinical treatment techniques and strategies essential to the healing of traumatic life situations. Focusing-Oriented Therapy is particularly helpful to those who work with residential school survivors, addictions, and survivors of sexual, physical and emotional abuse of all ages. The program especially benefits counselors and therapists who work in various cross-cultural situations/settings/communities.

This seven module program invites psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, counselors, other practitioners, and students in the mental health professions who want to bring a body-based, experiential focus to their agency or practice.

This workshop also may be of interest to acupuncturists, nurse practitioners, massage therapists and other body practitioners who are interested in increasing their familiarity and knowledge base about trauma and the mind/body connection.

New and continuing students of Focusing-Oriented Therapy are welcome.

How to Apply

We suggest registering early as the number of seats is limited. Please email a letter of intent, your resume, and the program application (download program application here) to the Program Coordinator, Melinda Darer: Melinda@focusing.org

For additional information on the application process please contact Melinda.

Program Fees and Scholarships

There are three payment methods:

  1. Total cost to complete this advanced 21 day, seven module program is: $3,850 if paid in full.
  2. Two equal payments - $1925 at registration and $1925 on June 15, 2013. ($550 for three training days for each of 7 modules).
  3. If a payment plan is needed, the tuition is $4,200 ($350 per month for 12 months). If you need to make another payment arrangement, please contact Melinda Darer: Melinda@focusing.org. Once a payment plan is set up and a participant's credit card changes for some reason other than new expiration date, a $10 change fee will be applied.

Fees include all training materials and completion certificate.

A limited number of scholarships are available on a first come basis by application. Priority will be given to applicants who work with communities where there has been historic oppression, to frontline workers who work in under resourced communities, and applicants in financial need.

An administrative fee of $150 will be charged for cancellation by November 30, 2012. On December 1, 2013, all fees are nonrefundable except in medical emergency.

Clinical Practice and Supervision

This component of the FOTCT program provides participants with clinical skills and feedback about their level of practice throughout the program. Participants will practice new skills learned on the third day of each module. Should participants choose to become certified with The Focusing Institute, they will be required to document therapy sessions and attend regular supervision sessions. These participants will submit one videotape upon completion of the program for evaluation by the Program Supervisor to demonstrate the required level of competency for certification.


In the observation component, which is ongoing throughout the program, participants will gain experience in how to offer feedback from the client perspective to peers in a professional and constructive manner. As well, participants will experience and effectively observe and reflect on the therapeutic process and will debrief in clinical supervision sessions.

Course Descriptions

Class times are 9 am to 4:30 pm, and will be held in NYC.

Module 1: Complex Trauma -- January 25-27, 2013

You will learn the five basic steps of Focusing. You will learn about the impact and assessment of complex trauma within self, family, communities and global systems. You will explore traumatic bonding and how to interrupt this dynamic. Aboriginal-Indigenous treatment models (Trauma Wheel Assessment) and attitudes for enhancing trauma skills when using FOT will be introduced, including how to prepare a safe ground for unraveling trauma, vicarious trauma and intergenerational trauma. A variety of treatment possibilities are woven throughout the seven modules via experiential exercises.

Module 2: Focusing-Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma -- March 22-24, 2013

You will consider neurological research and its implications in the treatment of complex trauma. You will learn about the resilience of our brains and bodies to hold and release trauma and how to approach trauma experiences from a post-traumatic growth perspective. The Medicine Wheel is used to demonstrate ways of working with clients to recognize and unravel trauma. FOT techniques are further developed.

Module 3: Intermediate Focusing-Oriented Therapy -- May 17-19, 2013

You will learn how to work more deeply with regression, dissociation and ego states; how to ground clients from psychotic breaks and/or out of control emotions; and self-injury from Aboriginal-Indigenous perspectives. The importance of land based concepts in treatment is also introduced. You will continue to practice and deepen your skills in FOT. You will deepen your skills using Aboriginal/Indigenous teachings of respectful engagement and balance. How Indigenous Knowledge is used as a framework and is central to connecting with unresolved trauma.

Module 4: Advanced Focusing-Oriented Therapy -- July 12-14, 2013

You will learn to identify and practice helping clients move through memory, intergenerational, and vicarious flashbacks and abreactions. You will explore how unresolved current and historical traumas play out in relationships. FOT will be used as a frame to explore various modalities for working with children and youth who have experienced developmental trauma. You will learn how to increase resilience and community wellness using art, play and movement. You will continue to practice and deepen your skills in FOT and develop implicit body-centred observation skills.

Module 5: Depression and Complex Trauma -- September 27-29, 2013

You will learn to assess various aspects and complexities of depression and personality disorders to determine treatment approaches. You will continue to practice and deepen your skills in FOT and start learning how to 'flush' complex memory and intergenerational trauma in FOT sessions. Indigenous Knowledge frameworks, ceremony, song and connection to land, geography, seasons and elements may be explored as implicit resource development. Whole Body Focusing-Oriented Therapy techniques are introduced.

Module 6: Clinical Spirituality and Complex Trauma -- November 15-17, 2013

This module introduces you to spiritual healing techniques and spiritual boundaries for working with complex, intergenerational and vicarious trauma. Grieving will be explored as a progressive forward movement. Aboriginal-Indigenous knowledge cosmology such as ancestral knowledge and connection to ancestors will be explored where appropriate.

Module 7: Dreams and Complex Trauma -- January 17-19, 2014

You will develop skills to connect with dreams and nightmares to help unravel complex trauma, inter-generational trauma and vicarious trauma. This course will also synthesize FOT theory and skills developed throughout the program. You will continue to synthesize and demonstrate Aboriginal/Indigenous holistic values of respectful, responsible relationships that are reciprocal and reverent.


Program Supervisor DaRa Elebe-Williams
Lead Instructors Shirley Turcotte, Alexis Phillips, and Shaun Phillips
Co-Instructors Betty McCorkle, Rob Parker, Antoinette Rodriguez Smith, and DaRa Elebe-Williams
Coaches Claudia Chau, Margarita Guergue, Charlotte Howorth, and Isabelle Adon

For instructor biographies see www.fotcomplextrauma.com

Product Code: W-130125-FOTCT



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