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The Northeast Focusing-Oriented Therapy Creative Retreat

Friday, November 9 - Sunday, November 11, 2018
Mercy Retreat Center by the Sea in Madison, CT

The theme of this year‘s gathering of Northeast Focusing-Oriented Therapists (FOTs) is “The Space Between.” As FOTs, we know and love this space. It is the space of the pause... the space where we can sense both the relational implicit and the unfolding of our inner process... the space which allows for a transformative process to occur.

This is not just an intention. This is reflected in the way we shaped the retreat. There will be more space within each presentation or workshop: two hours instead of one and one-half-hour. And there will also be more "space between" for ourselves, i.e. more time during the day for spontaneous interactions and/or contemplative time.

We will also be making space for a different kind of discussion: Topics that you would like to deepen through a discussion with other FOTs. When you register, or any time after that, contact us to tell us a little bit about topics that are of interest to you and you’d like to be discussed at our gathering. We will select two or three topics and give them space for group discussion.

We hope that this setting stimulates our curiosity about the cross-fertilization between our role as FOTs and our other roles and interactions as human beings. How what we learn from our other interactions, our other roles (as parents, as spouses, as friends) helps us better function as therapists. And how being a therapist helps us in all of the various roles and interactions we have in our lives.

Beth Mahler

Serge Prengel

Beth Mahler and Serge Prengel talk about the 2018 NE FOT gathering

We have space for 42 Participants staying at Mercy by the Sea. We hope you will join us.


If you are a Focusing-Oriented Therapist (FOT), in training to become an FOT, a counselor or other helping professional who would like to learn about how we incorporate Focusing in our work, you are welcome. While prior Focusing experience is helpful, it is not essential to benefit from this conference.


The Mercy Retreat Center is a lovely and serene waterfront property located on the Long Island Sound in Madison, CT. It is approximately 3 hours by car from New York City to the south or Boston to the north.

Getting to Mercy Retreat Center


Plenary Sessions (the whole group)

With Beth Mahler and Serge Prengel

In addition to regular presentations and workshops, the retreat as a whole is meant to be a collective learning experience of exploring the “space between” - - the temporal space, as well the space between us. We will be processing this in plenary sessions, in dyads as well as in the whole group. More ...

Serge Prengel is in private practice in New York City. He is trained in Focusing, Core Energetics and Somatic Experiencing. Serge is the editor of “Somatic Perspectives on Psychotherapy” and the Focusing conversations. He also edits Active Pause, a bridge between Focusers and other mindfulness practices that use a pause to shift from mindless default mode to mindful presence (http://ActivePause.com).

Beth Mahler, LCSW, FOT is in private practice, in NJ, as well as internationally recognized for providing Focusing-Oriented Therapy and focusing training via skype, facetime, and Zoom. Using mind-body approaches to psychotherapy, listening enhances access to resilience, growth, healing, and change. As a Certifying Coordinator for The International Focusing Institute, Beth teaches a 2 year certification training course, as well as group workshops and retreats to teach self-care practices toward health and wellness. Beth teaches in the Sociology Departments at William Paterson University and County College of Morris in New Jersey. Visit www.focusingtherapy.org or https://njfocusers.wixsite.com/njfocusers.

Group Discussions

   We will be making space for a different kind of discussion: Topics that you would like to deepen through a discussion with other FOTs. More ...

When you register, or anytime after that, contact us to tell us a little bit about topics that are of interest to you and you’d like to be discussed at our gathering.

We will select two or three topics and give them space for group discussion.

One of the topics could be how FOTs can engage in research, and what tools we have: e.g. Jim Iberg’s Session Report to gather data on what happens in therapy sessions, or the Focusing Manner Scale, developed in Japan, or the Heart Math device to register changes in heart rate variability coherence before and after Focusing partnership sessions...

Meeting the Challenges of Parenting Using Focusing Principles

With Kelley Bothe, LICSW and Julie Ramsey, LICSW, FOT

In this workshop, we will explore how, as parents and grandparents, we can enhance our capacity to be more attuned to our children and ourselves in mindful, fresh, and creative ways. More ...

Using focusing principles we will discuss how reflective listening, curiosity and non-judgmental attitudes can nurture our relationships with our children. Through case examples and experiential exercises, we will apply the principals of Focusing to our relationships with ourselves as parents as a way to enrich our capacity to be present to the children in our lives.

Kelley Bothe, LICSW is a psychotherapist practicing in the greater Boston area. Kelley brings Focusing into her work with individuals and groups and also enjoys teaching Focusing to small groups for personal enrichment.

Julie Ramsey, LICSW, FOT is a psychotherapist in private practice in Wellesley, MA. She works with adolescents and adults in individual and couples therapy.

The Maori Drawing Exercise: A Way In

With Judy Garfinkel, Board Certified Life & Career Coach, Certified Focusing Professional

This 2-hour experiential workshop offers an introduction to and provides practice with, The Maori Drawing Exercise, a focusing-friendly tool that helps clients, especially those without any prior Focusing experience, access inner knowing about important areas of their lives. More ...

Judy will guide you through the activity and provide time to break into dyads to further deepen your experience.

Judy Garfinkel, MA, ACC, CFP, is dedicated to supporting people toward personal transformation through her career, life and learning coaching practice, Move Into Change. Her clients are primarily people ”in between dreams” looking for clarity and practical support on their journey. Judy’s embodied approach to coaching (even to the job search!) provides the space for clients to move forward through the coaching model. Judy’s abiding fascination with the body led her first to professional ballet and then to a 25+ year career in progressive education, where, working with children, parents and teaching colleagues, she championed the body’s wisdom as essential to all learning. In addition to her coaching practice, Judy has recently danced with Heidi Latsky Dance Company in NYC, and teaches improvisation dance classes to older adults.

Focusing on Poems to Change Your Life
and Your Clinical Practice

With Sharon Heermance, Ph.D.

Poetry with its richly layered language invites Focusing. As Robert Frost writes, Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found its words.” More ...

Through accessible poems, we will practice Focusing’s distinctive process that invites gentle awareness of what echoes inside. We will share poems with intention to listen and respond with our body-self. We will consider how a poem can invite clients to recognize their felt sense as a compass for their unfolding life path. We will discuss how poetry can deepen Focusing-oriented psychotherapy. Poems chosen include those by Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Pablo Neruda, and David Whyte. No prior reading of poetry is necessary. The instructor will provide poems; we will provide each other interactive Focusing and rich discussion.

Sharon Heermance, Ph.D. is a psychologist with a private practice in Arlington, MA. She has studied Focusing with Joan Klagsbrun, Ph.D., and integrates this into her clinical practice. Higher education includes a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston College and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University. She has led workshops with community education in Massachusetts that integrate poetry with mindfulness. She has led workshops blending Focusing with poetry with Focusing New England, and in 2017 at the Focusing-Oriented Therapy conference.

Sensing into the Space Between
through Meaningful Quotes

With Charles Herr, PhD

Charles will lead off with an experiential exploration of a short statement by Rilke on the topic of the distance that exists between even the closest people. Participants are invited to submit a short poem or statement that they would like to share at the presentation written by themselves or by another person on the subject of ‘the space between’. More ...

Charles F. Herr, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, retired in 2013 from 18 years at Gouverneur Healthcare in New York City, where he served as director of Psychological Services and director of Internship Training. He is now in part time private practice. In addition to Focusing, he is extensively involved in the Nonviolent Communication community in New York.

Finding More Joy in our Lives
and our Therapy Practice

With Joan Klagsbrun, PhD

Positive Psychology provides an evidenced-based approach for increasing our capacity (and our clients’ capacity) for flourishing, and for fully appreciating all that is good in our lives. People who have a higher ratio of “positivity” to “negativity” have more energy, clearer thinking, and better health. More ...

In this workshop, I will review some of the most relevant findings from Positive Psychology that pertain to psychotherapy. We will reflect on positive defining moments in our practice as therapists that have impacted us and brought us greater wisdom or joy. We will then use Focusing to explore qualities such as acceptance, compassion, gratitude and generosity, that are among the 8 Pillars of Joy, (as defined by the The Dalai Lama and The Archbishop Desmond Tutu in their book, The Book Of Joy.) Our shared experience together will aim to enrich our own lives, and to offer us fresh ways to deepen and broaden our work with clients.

Joan Klagsbrun, Ph.D., a practicing psychologist and certifying coordinator, has taught Focusing internationally for over three decades. She also teaches at Lesley University in Cambridge Massachusetts. In her therapy practice, and in her teaching and writing, she integrates her three passions: Focusing, Spirituality, and Positive Psychology

Our Hearts Connecting: Finding Forward-Felt-Steps For Us And Our Earth

With Wendi Maurer, PhD and Sophie Glikson, LMHC, FOT, MA

Inspired by Sophie Glikson’s heart-warming and artistic Heart Installation for all to enjoy outdoors, we have put together a meaningful interconnecting experience, indoors! More ...

This will enhance your heart – beat, and flow, and space, connecting to yourselves and each other and our Earth. All are welcome, wherever you are on the continuum of interconnecting. You will all take home a recycled CD personally designed with your forward-felt-steps.

Dr. Wendi S. Maurer is a Certified Focusing-Oriented Psychologist in California and Indiana; in private practice for over 25 years, and is active on the TIFI Membership Committee. Dr. Maurer has taught many Focusing classes. Look for A Taste of TAE and Being Human - Losing, Living and Carrying Forward. She specializes in Healthy Coping and Meaning in Life, Grief and Loss and helping others find their spirit. Learn more at drwendimaurer.com.

Sophie Glikson, LMHC, FOT, MA, offers Expressive Arts Therapies, Creative Life Coaching, and Supervision in Massachusetts, since 1989. She works with adults and children integrating the Focusing approach with the medicinal power of the Arts. She taught for 16 years at Lesley University in the Expressive Therapies Department, and now her life research involves how our creative intelligence accesses pathways to make positive changes for our hearts and well-being, and for our Earth. You can learn more about Sophie Glikson’s artwork and creative life coaching at sophieglikson.com.

Accessing Ancestral Wisdom in Difficult Times Using Focusing-Oriented Therapy

With Beilah Ross, LICSW

During difficult times when we may feel helpless, anxious, alone, or afraid, we tend to seek out the support of those who have more emotional distance from our situation. More ...

Having passed into the realm of the spiritual, our ancestors or benefactors possess equanimity, egolessness, and affective distance that may be difficult to access on our own, especially when flooded with difficult thoughts and emotions. They can offer a wider perspective that comes from having watched human history evolve and devolve over time as well as the wisdom they’ve gotten from their own lived experience. FOT can facilitate embodied connection with our ancestors or benefactors, helping us to feel unconditionally loved, cared for, comforted, and guided by them. In this experiential workshop, participants will practice using Focusing questions and techniques with people from their family lineage or their “chosen family”, so that these beings can become a refuge they go to for strength, inspiration, wisdom and solace in times of adversity.

Beilah Ross, LICSW, gained certification as a Focusing-Oriented therapist in 2009. She works in private practice with adults, couples and children, using Focusing and other experiential modalities to help her clients connect with body-centered wisdom. She teaches Focusing to individuals and groups through community workshops. She also runs workshops on healing inter-generational trauma using FOT and is interested in how Focusing with ancestors can support activism for racial justice.

Deepening into Process

With Jim Strohl, Ed.D. & Laurel Leland, M.S.

“Presence” is the ongoing, natural state of pure awareness or direct knowing of that which occurs each moment. It involves being fully open to the present moment with an enlarged sense of spaciousness, receptivity, and acceptance. More ...

Presence is known to be essential to psychological healing and spiritual awakening. Therefore, it’s imperative that therapists readily embody and maintain presence which takes time and practice to perfect.

This workshop provides an informal, safe, friendly space for deepening our understanding and direct experiencing of presence through the use of experiential exercises and group sharing. Incorporating presence into clinical practices will be emphasized and the transcendent, spiritual elements of presence will be thoroughly considered. We hope to show how presence is vital for therapeutic change to occur.

We’ll explore how being fully present facilitates access to deeper levels of existence, including a boundless state of quiet stillness, contentment, and peace from which all experience and transformation arises. This will invite us to go beyond the concept of self-in-presence to experiencing self-as-presence. This way of being transcends mind and observes the mind. We’ll also show how presence, in its purest sense, overcomes resistance and promotes spontaneous healing by facilitating interconnectedness and wholeness.

Jim Strohl, Ed.D, is a licensed psychologist and Certifying Coordinator for the International Focusing Institute. He has taught, supervised, and counseled for 41 years and served as an Adjunct Professor at Chestnut Hill College for 17 years. His approach synthesizes classical training in counseling psychology and indepth spiritual direction in numerous methods of spiritual development.

Laurel Leland, M.S., is a licensed psychologist and Certified Focusing-Oriented Therapist for the International Focusing Institute. Laurel has counseled in medical, hospital, and private practice settings for 36 years. She currently works privately providing counseling and teaching services in mainstream psychology and spiritual psychology.


Total cost, including tuition, room and board:

Single Double
Early Bird before August 31st, 2018


Regular Price after August 31st, 2018 $600 $455

Singles are sold out. If you are registering in a double but would prefer a single, register for a double, write "single wait list" on the "Special Instructions" during the check-out process. We'll get in touch if a single opens up.

Member Discount - TIFI members who pay 2018 dues before registering, $25 off.

Registration closes November 1, 2018.

Work Study Jobs

Send email of interest to elizabeth@focusing.org

Retreat Photographer: $100 USD off current registration fee – must have own digital camera or high quality phone. Please submit 2 photos you have taken of people interacting (not posed). Ideally, this person will coordinate onsite with the Social Media Uploader position offered below. Positions can be combined if you have expertise with uploading to Facebook.

Retreat Videographer: $100 USD off current registration fee – must have own video camera. Please submit two short videos you have filmed and/or edited.

Social Media Uploader: $75 USD off current registration fee – coordinate daily with retreat photographer (or take a few suitable photos yourself) to upload  to the Institute Facebook page all 3 days of the retreat.


A full refund minus a $50.00 administrative fee will be given to participants who cancel by August 11, after August 11th and before September 11th, 50% of the conference fee will be refunded. After September 11th, the conference fee is non-refundable.


Workshop check-in: Friday, November 9, 2018 between 4:00 pm and 5:30 pm.
(Please note that dinner is served from 5:30-6:15 pm so if you can arrive closer to 4:00 pm it will give you a little more time to settle in.)

Workshop check-out: Room check-out will likely be in the morning but our conference will conclude at 2:00 pm.


Social Work

The International Focusing Institute, Inc. is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0055. Contact Hours awarded will be awarded for some presentations. Specifics to be added soon.


For program questions please email Beth Mahler or Serge Prengel.

For registration and administrative questions please email Elizabeth@focusing.org


All workshops will be presented in English.


TIFI reserves the right to cancel, change and alter the program if necessary. Participants authorize TIFI to use their name, statements and likeness without charge, for promotional purposes in publications, advertising, video, web, new media, or other formats.

Product Code: W-181111-WC




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The International Focusing Institute  |  15 N. Mill St., Nyack, NY 10960, USA  |  Tel: +1 (845) 480-5111  |  Fax: +1 (845) 704-0461
All contents copyright 2018 by The International Focusing Institute   info@focusing.org