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Focusing: An Adjunct Treatment for Adaptive Recovery from Cancer
This study evaluated the usefulness of the Experiential Focusing Method as a psychological tool in the treatment of cancer patients. The researchers measured the impact of focusing on depression, hardiness, body cathexis, body attitudes and physical activity level for twelve cancer patients (eleven women and one man) between the ages of 30 and 55, who had cancer within the last five years. The researchers matched subjects for severity of illness and randomly assigned them either to a focusing treatment group for six 90-minute weekly sessions or to a waiting list control group. Results showed a significant decrease in depression and a significant improvement in body attitudes for the treatment group when compared to the control group. A trend toward improved scores for the treatment group appeared in the hardiness scores and the body cathexis scores. At the six-month follow-up, treatment group scores did not change significantly, suggesting that subjects sustained the changes achieved with this intervention over time. The authors discuss qualitative as well as quantitative results. read article...


Medical Decision Making
I spoke with a man shortly after his wife of 45 years died. He was remembering a pivotal moment when his wife’s illness began and after she had been examined by several doctors. He recalled vividly the feeling of being in an office facing three doctors, all of whom were recommending exploratory colon surgery. Not only did all three doctors agree about the recommended surgery, but they were communicating a sense of urgency — we need to do this surgery immediately before it is too late. He described how he felt the burden of making this decision and wanted desperately to do what would be best for his wife’s health. He recalled looking over at her. “She just kept looking straight at me with this fear in her eyes about going through with the surgery.” I saw the look but I didn’t think it was important to explore this with her. I felt such time pressure and thought I should do what the doctors said. She had the surgery and they found nothing, but there were side effects to the surgery that began her decline. He said to me: “I now look back and wish that I had allowed her to speak about her fear and to take the time to help her communicate to me what SHE sensed was best for her.” read article...


Case Example: The Felt Sense Can Release Physical Symptoms
There is so much we don’t know about physical disease. If we begin with the assumption that we are one whole organism that is an interaction with environment, culture, and spirit then physical disease is also in interaction as well. I want to highlight in this case example what can happen when we treat a physical symptom as a Felt Sense; i.e. the physical symptom carries bodily felt meanings that imply further living. read article...


Felt Sense and Cognitive Function
I have had several striking experiences working with people who have neurological disorders or who have entered a terminal stage in their cancer. In each of these people their disease progression had begun to alter and destroy certain cognitive functions. When this starts to happen it is more difficult for them to communicate what is going on inside and even to stay present to the people who love them and are trying to care for them. The person often appears tired and “out of it.” Sometimes I have experienced people looking like they are already in a coma. Usual ways of communicating are often frustrating for the caregiver because there is not much response, or else there may be a response that seems “off the wall” or like an hallucination. read article...


The Client's Client: The Edge of Awareness
What Is That, Exactly, From Which the Change-Steps Come?
The client's side of the change process has usually been discussed in relation to the question: Exactly to what, in the client, should the therapist respond? The usual answer was "the feeling," but that term can be confusing.

No, it is not exactly "the feeling", although responding to that is in the right direction. We want to respond to that in the client from which change steps come. Let me therefore ask instead: What is that, in the client, from which change-steps come? That is not exactly "feeling", certainly not the familiar and identifiable feelings. Change-steps come rather from an unclear "edge," a "sense" of more than one says and knows.

We now call such an unclear edge a "felt sense." Since it is felt, we need to be precise about how does it differs from the usual, clear and recognizable feelings.

Two Differences Between Feelings and Felt Sense: Felt Sense is Unclear and Less Intense.
For example, a client may feel angry and say why. In an effective therapy process that would "open up" and further steps would arise. But suppose the client says: "I'm angry, I told you why, and that's all. Nothing further comes." Let us say the therapist has responded to the anger and its reasons. What exactly is not happening?

When therapy works, certain steps of process would come here. Do they come from the feeling of anger, exactly? Many therapists think so. They lead their patients to feel such an anger more and more intensely. They assume that process-steps come from feelings, so the anger must not have been felt sufficiently. But people often have the same feelings over and over, quite intensely, without change-steps coming. read article...