Felt Sense

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'Felt sense is the raw, direct experiencing of the body's feeling of a situation or memory before being clarified with words.'[1]


Eugene T. Gendlin first described this term in his book 'Focusing'.[2]


Felt sense and the focusing model is great bridge between mind and emotions and body.

Focusing: A Tool for Changing Times[3]

Focusing; the technique is uniquely suited for our changing times where most of us are having to invent, discover, and create the next steps of our lives without a light, a map, or a relevant tradition. We are trying to keep apace with rapidly changing technology, trying to understand our selves and our relationships, seeking ways to be well, looking for meaning in our work, and finding a new center of gravity within ourselves. Focusing is at once richly complex and surprisingly simple. It is mental and kinesthetic, mysterious in its capacity to summon buried wisdom, holistic in its respect for the ‘felt sense’ of a problem. An effective method in itself, it is valuable in conjunction with a variety of psychotherapies, somatic based therapies, and tools such as meditation. Focusing unblocks the creative processes, helps to define problems and enhances resources. In short, focusing works with any form of ‘stuckness’.

The discovery of focusing

In the early 1970s, Professor Gene Gendlin of the University of Chicago began research into the question ‘Why is psychotherapy helpful for some people, but not for others?’ After studying hundreds of therapy sessions, Gendlin and his research team concluded that they could predict the success of treatment based on the clients that were able to have body awareness; for which he coined the term ‘felt sense’. This approach has become useful in the treatment and resolution of trauma and has been adapted in this healing field with innovators such as the work of Babette Rothschild and Peter Levine. Focusing technique has also been adapted by many authors and therapists working in the field of psychophysiology.

What is focusing?

Focusing is a body-oriented process of self-awareness. It is as simple as noticing how you feel and then having a conversation with your feelings in which ‘you’ do most of the listening. Focusing is a natural skill that was discovered not invented. It was discovered by looking at what people are doing when they are changing successfully. Focusing ability is the birthright of every person: we are born with the ability to know how we feel from moment to moment. But for some of us the experiences of hurt and alienation from our cultures have caused us to lose trust in our bodies and feelings. We need our bodies and feelings to re-learn focusing.


  1. Gendlin, E. (1981) Focusing, revised edn. London: Bantam New Age Books.
  2. Gendlin, E. (1981) Focusing, revised edn. London: Bantam New Age Books.
  3. Richard Ferguson, 2013. BCST and Tutor in BC Canada richardferguson@shaw.ca