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The Second Felt Sense Conference: Creativity

Honoring the work of Eugene T. Gendlin

Photo: Emanuel Hahn

The second
Felt Sense Conference
Bridging Philosophy and Practices


Friday May 17, 2019 - Sunday May 19, 2019
at Hebrew Union College, New York City

Samarra Burnett, Grace Wing Yee Chan, Evelyn Fendler-Lee,
Robert Parker, Sondra Perl, Lynn Preston

Samarra Burnett

Samarra Burnett

Grace Wing Yee Chan

Grace Wing Yee Chan

Evelyn Fendler-Lee

Evelyn Fendler-Lee

Robert Parker

Robert Parker

Sondra Perl

Lynn Preston

Call For Proposals

If you would like to consider presenting for this conference please read more here.

At the 2nd anniversary of the passing of Gene Gendlin, The International Focusing Institute is pleased to offer the Second Felt Sense conference.

This year's theme is Creativity. Through this lens, we will explore how thinking, drawing, writing, dancing and living are all brought more alive through felt sensing. Whatever your interest, we invite you to join us, and perhaps even offer a workshop of your own.

Participants in the First
Felt Sense Conference, May, 2018

Amazing new possibilities arise when we open to the "more" beyond what we already know. The mornings will deepen our understanding of the Philosophy of the Implicit and Thinking at the Edge. The afternoon workshops will be mostly experiential. Both days will be filled with opportunities to learn, interact and participate. The conference culminates Sunday morning with coffee and conversation to connect and integrate the two days.

Our first Felt Sense Conference last year was a great success, and we are building on that energy with a few exciting changes. This year, a light breakfast and simple lunch will be included. We have also added elective workshops each afternoon, as well as the chance for you to submit a proposal to offer a workshop of your own (see the "Call for Proposals.")

Eugene T. Gendlin

About Gene Gendlin

In his life and work, Gene Gendlin was a model of bridging. While he was in his doctoral program of philosophy, he studied outside his field, with Carl Rogers, whose field was psychology. Gendlin found Rogers' work to be a practical application of the philosophy he was elaborating, and Rogers was, in turn, deeply influenced by the insights Gendlin brought to the practice. Gendlin continued bridging worlds throughout his life. While working at the highest levels of philosophical discourse to the very end of his life, he also continued to practice psychotherapy. Though his work is brilliant and sophisticated, he made it accessible through the simple yet powerful practices of Focusing and Thinking at the Edge.

Gerry Gendlin, Gene's son, presenting at
the First Felt Sense Conference

Gene Gendlin was a pioneer of what today is considered the "turn to embodiment" or the “mind-body connection.” He didn't simply criticize the prevailing dualism of body and mind, but his work demonstrated what it means to think with body and mind. Philosophers talk now about philosophical practice, but Gene actually delivered one, through his great work, A Process Model, and through the development of the practice of Thinking at the Edge. The practice of Focusing which he developed is a revolutionary place where human beings do not only delve into their individual experience, but also see their intimate connection to others and the world around them. Focusing counters our tendency to rush to conclude or judge.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend. Some familiarity with Focusing will be assumed in many talks and workshops, but is not required. Background reading could include basic books on Focusing found at www.focusing.org/books.

About the term "felt sense"

The “felt sense” refers to the body's sense of a situation which is greater than our thoughts or feelings about it. It is that “something” that we know, but which is so murky that we have no words for it. Often, it is so subtle or so pervasive that we aren't consciously aware that it's there. Gendlin referred to it as "an implicit complexity and a wholistic sense of a situation." The concept of the felt sense was foundational to his groundbreaking work in philosophy and psychology. The number of people whose lives and work have been changed by this simple process have been legion; we bring you a few whose work we find fascinating and powerful.

Please note: this schedule is subject to change.

* All attendees will be assigned to small groups. The small groups are a brief, informal opportunity to meet other participants and to share thoughts, ideas and experiences. We recognize that individual needs and desires will vary, and so participation in the small groups is (of course) completely optional. For those who look forward to making new connections, we hope that the small groups will make that easier and more enjoyable.

Thursday, May 17

Possibility for dinner together at a local restaurant -- stay tuned for details.

Friday, May 18

9:00 am

Gather, registration, coffee

9:30 am


9:45 - 10:45 am

Donata Schoeller: Felt Sense Is Interaction

10:45 - 11:15 am

Break and optional small groups*

11:15 am

Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt workshop:
Reminiscences of Eugene Gendlin

12:15 - 2:00 pm

Break for lunch and optional small groups*

2:00 - 4:00 pm

Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt: Imago Dialogue and Focusing

4:00 - 4:15 pm


4:15 pm


4:30 - 5:30 pm

Kevin Krycka: Culture and the Felt Sense

5:30 - 8:00 pm

Dinner and optional small groups*

8:00 pm

Evening option to be announced

Saturday, May 19

8:30 am

Gather, registration, coffee

9:00 - 11:00 am

Donata Schoeller workshop: "Now" as a Window into "More"

11:00 - 11:15 am


11:15 am - 12:15 pm

Gerry Gendlin: Gendlin on Gendlin

12:15 - 2:00 pm

Lunch break with optional small groups*

2:00 - 4:00 pm

Jan Winhall and Maureen Brine workshop: Deepening Our Capacities for Interaction

4:00 - 4:15 pm


4:15 pm


4:15 - 6:15 pm

Panel discussion: Bridging Philosophy and Practices - Felt Sensing in Real Time
Kevin Krycka, Donata Schoeller, Jan Winhall and Maureen Brine

Our panelists will lead us in a conversation in which all are invited and encouraged to participate. They will begin with sharing what has been stimulated for them in our two days together and invite all present to share.

6:15 pm

Socializing and then dinner on your own

8:00 pm

Evening social activity to be announced

Sunday, May 20

9:00 - 11:00 am

Informal gathering (off-site; location to be announced) for processing,
collaborating and closing. Details about how this time will be organized will given at the conference. Coffee and bagels will be served, or bring your own breakfast.

Morning Plenary Sessions

Plenary session 1: Friday Morning

Robert Parker

Focusing, Creativity, and Being–Time

For Gendlin, philosophy was not about dogma but about different ways of thinking (and experiencing). This is difficult to grasp because our culture has all but forgotten that different ways of thinking are even possible. We will explore The Process Model way of thinking about time, and discover that time is the core of Focusing, of creativity, and of our human being.

Plenary session 2: Saturday Morning

Evelyn Fendler-Lee

In the Footsteps of Gendlin‘s Thought-Ways

How do we harvest the richness of Gendlin’s thinking about and with the implicit?
How do we make thinking with the implicit more accessible and fun?

With Thinking At the Edge (TAE) we already have a fascinating method to create new concepts and to build a theory. However, the 14 steps of TAE are for precise teaching. As in dancing, the full joy of expressing unfolds in subtle variations and creative combinations of steps. By closely following Gendlin’s thought-ways we can sketch an organic map that opens new ground for original thinking. Thetaland is evolving as an inquiry tool with elements of a game. It invites you to think with the implicit in a playful way and learn the deeper process as you go. We will experience the first stage of the adventure journey into Thetaland and discuss applications.

Afternoon Workshops

Samarra Burnett

Workshop: Tango, The Dance of Interaction

People often describe Focusing as a “dance”. In this workshop we will explore how this is more than a metaphor. We’ll experience how partner dancing, and Argentine tango in particular, can be an interactive model of creative inquiry. When partners connect from a place of deep listening, movements can arise from a source beyond conscious awareness. A dance can be created through “interaction first”, flowing out of relationship, in the moment. The framework of Argentine tango supports this kind of co-creative magic; its improvised timing encourages partners to wait, listen, dialogue, and be carried forward at their own speed. We’ll explore these possibilities through simple games and exercises involving gentle movement and light touch. If you can walk, be still, and listen with your body, please come and enjoy this illuminating shared dance.

Samarra Burnett went to her first tango class to win an argument that tango is an unsavory and oppressive art. She has never been so glad to be wrong. Like many before her, she fell in love with this dance’s subtlety and capacity to express a vast range of inner experience. Her desire to share this with others soon became her full time job; another huge surprise, since most of her life she couldn’t take dance lessons. As a child she had deformed feet, and a fear of being humiliated that led her to hide in the coat closet when her teacher led the class in the hokey–pokey. Samarra’s tango classes are relaxed, and cater to people without dance backgrounds. She is certified to teach T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Chi Kung, as well as several body work methods, and holds an MA in Somatic Education from Prescott College. She is currently enrolled in Charlotte Howorth’s two year Focusing trainer program.

Grace Wing Yee Chan

Workshop one: Integrating Focusing and Art: Expressing the Felt Sense through FOAT®

“Creative people have always used this [Focusing] method.”—E.T. Gendin

Eugene Gendlin pointed out the similarity between Focusing and the creative process. For over 40 years, Laury Rappaport has been developing Eugene Gendlin’s inner listening and Focusing process with the creative arts—providing a natural tangible expression for the inner felt sense. This process is named Focusing-Oriented Expressive Arts (FOAT®), which includes using colors, textures and other user-friendly art materials to capture aspects of the inner felt sense that words alone may not sufficiently describe.

This workshop provides a brief overview of Focusing-Oriented Expressive Arts (FOAT®) along with experiential exercises to introduce you to the basic FOAT® step- how to bring mindful awareness to the felt sense, and symbolize it through the arts.  It will include ways to warm-up to the materials followed by a FOAT® exercise on the Focusing Attitude. Becoming aware of the “Focusing Attitude” and expressing the felt sense through the life-affirming creative art process, helps to enhance and carry forward self-compassion, access the body’s inner wisdom, and expand creativity.

In addition, a group of Hong Kong artists and mental health professionals who applied FOAT® as a self-care approach, held a public exhibition in Hong Kong during the spring of 2016. Their artwork will be shown to further demonstrate various examples of the FOAT® process.

This workshop aims to inspire fellow Focusers, counselors, and educators on how the integration of Focusing with the arts can help to concretize the inner felt sense, enhance clarity, awareness, and connections while accessing innate wisdom.

Workshop two: Integrating Focusing and Art: A Theme-Directed Approach to FOAT®

Focusing-Oriented Expressive Arts (FOAT®), developed by Laury Rappaport, integrates Gendlin’s evidence-based Focusing method with the creative arts—which encompasses the verbal and non-verbal articulation of the inner felt sense. The FOAT® process encourages one to create tangible arts to illustrate the often vague sensations in the body, and to deepen awareness of self for healing and transformational change.

This workshop will provide an overview of the basic concepts of FOAT® along with an introduction to a Theme-Directed approach to FOAT®. Besides showcasing examples of a variety of themes, we will focus on the theme of “Source of Strength”— and explore how to bring the Focusing Attitude towards the felt sense— and to symbolize it through visual expression using color, and user-friendly art materials. In addition, a brief felt sense writing experience will be integrated.

The presenter will also demonstrate different ways of how the FOAT® Theme-Directed approach can be implemented into a group setting. A Theme-Directed FOAT® approach is useful for anyone interested in exploring relevant themes related to resilience-building, personal growth, wellness, education, counseling as well as community and organizational building.

Grace Wing Yee Chan is a Board-Certified Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC). She obtained her Master’s Degree in Art Therapy training from New York University, and practiced as a licensed creative arts therapist at NYC hospital’s psychiatric unit for several years before relocating to Hong Kong. Directly trained and supervised by Dr. Laury Rappaport, founder of FOAT®, Grace is a Certified FOAT® Practitioner, and also a Focusing-Oriented Therapist (FOT) with a specialization in Focusing-Oriented Expressive Arts (FOAT®). With extensive experience serving mental health & special needs population in the U.S. & Hong Kong, Grace integrates FOAT® in art psychotherapy practice and in-service trainings, witnessing the culturally adaptive and transformative power of Focusing. She is currently serving as the Vice President of the Hong Kong Association of Art Therapists, as well as FOAT® Coordinator in Hong Kong for training and mentorship program.

Evelyn Fendler-Lee

Workshop: Discovering Thetaland

Deep inside you lies a whole undiscovered land with numerous treasures slumbering in its soil. We take you on a journey through this land. The language of this land expresses your own truths that no person has ever expressed before.

We start from an open question, a vague idea or an unclear situation. By venturing out into Thetaland, you will get to the heart of your topic.
On Friday we will create keys to open doors for new meanings and we will bring the loose ends together into a new conceptual gestalt.
On Saturday we will gain fresh insights from past adventures and we will create a unique play by letting our new patterns interact.

The two workshops can be taken separately, and they will build on each other when you participate in both.

Dr. Evelyn Fendler-Lee is an organizational psychologist, person-centered counselor, and Focusing Trainer. She first studied minerology, has a doctorate in science, and brings 20 years of experience in teamwork, leadership and project management while working as a material scientist in well-respected research institutes and in the automotive and chemical industry.

Since 2009, Evelyn has been self-employed. She facilitates knowledge communication, concept-creation, professional and personal growth. She applies Thinking at the Edge (TAE) to innovation, teamwork and leadership. As associate lecturer, she taught self-management and social competences at the Universities of Freiburg and Kehl and she teaches TAE internationally.

Since 2015, she is in charge of TAE training at the German Training Institute for Focusing and Focusing-Therapy (DAF). She has been developing Thetaland, a playful tool based on TAE and she is part of the research project on Experiential Thinking at the University of Würzburg.

Robert Parker

Workshop one: An introduction to A Process Model #1: feeling, perception, sentience

Carrying forward our exploration of Process Model time in the morning session, we will use discussion and experiential exercises to develop a new understanding of feeling, perception, and sentience. We will find that living is inherently a creative process both in animals and in humans.

Workshop two: An introduction to A Process Model #2: Focusing and creativity

From our discoveries about time from the morning session (the first workshop will also be helpful, but not necessary), we will develop a new understanding of Focusing, how it is different from normal.

Rob Parker, PhD is a certified Focusing Trainer and Coordinator who studied philosophy with Gene Gendlin approximately every week from 2003 until Gene’s death in 2017. In addition to publishing and lecturing on the philosophy of the implicit, Rob has been teaching webinars on A Process Model and Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning since 2009.

In his other life as a psychologist, Rob worked extensively with adult and child survivors of physical and sexual abuse, and with abuse perpetrators. He has designed and managed several inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, published and lectured for professional audiences, and been interviewed by national media such as the New York Times and MSNBC.

Rob is constantly amazed by the power of Gene's philosophy and how it continually expands and deepens our awareness of ourselves and of the world.

Sondra Perl

Workshop: Writing with the Body (Introductory)

Sondra Perl will take participants through her “Guidelines for Composing” which were developed in consultation with Gene Gendlin and are based on his Focusing method. Participants will experience slowing down, listening to their bodies, and waiting patiently for words to emerge from a felt sense. This bodily knowing will lead to discovering a range of topics for writing and to the beginning stages of shaping a written text, moving from what was at first inchoate to language that arises directly from one’s inner knowing. Of interest to anyone who writes or has ever had the urge to write, this workshop provides a protected space for going to the edge of ones’s thoughts and waiting to see what comes. At the end, time will be devoted to discussing how the process evolved for each person. Come with paper and pen or a device for writing (ie: Ipad, laptop, etc.).

Sondra Perl is Professor Emerita of English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York where she coordinated the Ph.D. specialization in Composition and Rhetoric. Currently Perl directs The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights [TOLI] (www.TOLInstitute.org) where she works with classroom teachers and uses writing to ground the study of atrocity. She is the author of six books, including Felt Sense: Writing with the Body as well as a teaching memoir, On Austrian Soil: Teaching Those I Was Taught to Hate.

Sunday Morning Coffee and Conversation

Lynn Preston has graciously invited us to her apartment on Sunday morning (only blocks from the venue) for coffee, light breakfast and engaging conversation. She will lead us in a process of synthesizing what was learned, how to integrate it, and how we might apply it all in our lives. Whether you attended one or both days of the conference, you are encouraged to attend on Sunday morning. Lynn is a great facilitator and her apartment is warm and inviting. Don't miss this opportunity to close the weekend by opening up possibilities for carrying it all forward.

Lynn Preston, MA, MS, LP, is a focusing-oriented relational psychoanalyst, teacher and supervisor. She is a graduate of the PPSC Advanced Self Psychology program, a faculty member of the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy (ICP) and the founding Director of the Experiential Psychotherapy Project (EPP). Lynn has written and presented internationally on the integration of focusing and relational psychoanalysis. She also has an abiding interest in experiential teaching and integrative processes.


Early Bird pricing applies until April 10th, 2019.



Friday through Sunday program

$340 early bird / $375 after April 10

$390 early bird / $425 after April 10

One-day (Friday or Saturday)**

$210 early bird / $270 after April 10

$240 early bird / $310 after April 10

* Member pricing listed above is available for members of the The International Focusing Institute who are current on dues. If you choose the member pricing and your dues are unpaid, you will be charged your dues upon registration. If you are not a member, join now and then return to this registration page.

Pricing includes a simple breakfast and lunch both Friday and Saturday. The Sunday morning Coffee and Conversation led by Lynn Preston is an additional $10. Pricing does not include other meals or accommodations.

Registration - (note single day and full conference registration available)

Registration may be done online below or by calling the office at 845-480-5111.

Registration closes Monday, May 13, 2019.

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.

Location and Dining

The Friday and Saturday workshops will be held in New York City at Hebrew Union College, the location of Gene Gendlin's Memorial service in May, 2017. It is located at One West 4th Street in the Village. You can look up directions here or learn more Hebrew Union College.

The location of the Sunday morning conversation with Lynn Preston will be provided to registrants.

This year's conference registration includes a simple catered breakfast and lunch both Friday and Saturday. Dinners are on your own. There are many restaurants in the area allowing groups to make dinner plans locally if they wish. 


Lodging is the responsibility of the registrant. We will be reserving a block of rooms. Check back for more details if this is of interest.


A full refund minus a $50.00 administrative fee will be given to participants who cancel by April 25th, 2019. From April 25th forward, all fees are non-refundable. The International Focusing Institute reserves the right to cancel or re-schedule for insufficient enrollment or for other unanticipated reasons. In such cases you will be given a choice of applying your tuition to future programs, or the full enrollment fee will be returned.

Questions and More Information

Registration and administrative questions please email feltsenseconference@focusing.org.

Work Study and Student Discounts

Please e-mail  feltsenseconference@focusing.org to inquire about any of the work study opportunities.

Small Group Leader – discount $150
- Attend two online meetings prior to the conference to discuss how small groups will work (time and date TBD depending on availability of volunteers)
- Attend both days of conference as well as Sunday morning (if arranged in advance, one or two small group leaders might be able to skip Sunday if necessary).  Please note that if you are coming from out of town, we would like you to be in New York by Thursday night, so as to ensure your arrival on time on Friday morning.  If this poses a problem, please discuss this with us in advance.
- It will be necessary to arrive at the venue by 8:30am on both days.
- Lead small group time; encourage interaction among small group; have enough presence to guide the group yet also listen and respond to your particular group’s needs.

Registration desk assistant – discount $50 for each day that you assist at registration
- Volunteer for Friday or Saturday or both (double the discount if you help both days)
- Sit at registration desk with Elizabeth (an employee of the Institute), helping to check people in under her supervision
- Be friendly, welcoming and helpful
- You will be required to arrive half an hour before registration opens
- We will make every effort to make sure you get into the conference when it begins, but if the registration desk is busy, you might be asked to miss the first half hour.

Translation – discount to be arranged as necessary
We sometimes get requests for language interpretation.  If you are capable of translating from English into another language, please contact us.

Greeters / General assistance – discount $25 for each day that you assist
- Volunteer for Friday or Saturday or both (double the discount if you help both days).
- Stand at entrance to help guide people to registration, bathrooms, etc.
- You are required to arrive by 8:30 on the morning that you volunteer, and to remain present until 6:30pm. 
- Occasional assistance during the day with such things as handing out papers.

Photographer – discount $75 for each day you volunteer
We need photographs of all aspects of the conference.  We seek a wide variety of informal shots of people participating, as well as formal, posed shots of presenters.  Please submit samples of your work.  As we need photos of the whole day, you must arrive by 8:30am and stay until the last presentation.  Please be sure to get a specific list of needed photos from Catherine.

Videographer – discount $250 for both days
We will have professional videography equipment.  Your job will be to ensure that the plenary sessions are videotaped well, perhaps zooming in and out occasionally, ensuring that the sound is being captured, etc.  This requires prior experience with the use of video equipment.  Please indicate your experience when applying for this discount.

Student discount
If you are a full-time student with a current student ID, you pay $75 for one day registration or $150 for two days registration.  Please bring your student ID to registration.


All workshops will be presented in English. We seek language interpretation when we know there is a desire for it. Please contact us (feltsenseconference@focusing.org) if you would like language interpretation and we will do our best to accommodate requests.

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