Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy:  A Manual of the Experiential Method

By Eugene T. Gendlin

The Guilford Press

72 Spring Street, NY 10012



“One client who had an abusive experience as a child, could imagine no way she could ever heal, except to make it “unhappen.”  Eventually she said she would have been all right in those years if there had been someone to talk to about it.  Nothing could have made it unhappen, of course, but she and the person could have “sat on a log together.”  I am here in such a way that a client can sit on a log with me.

This means that we do not need to have an answer to the client’s stuck places.  Sometimes there are real answers.  However, usually we have answers because we have not yet understood the problem.  When we reach the stage where we have no answer either, then we have really understood.  (Gendlin/FOP/290)”

This reminds me of sitting on the log with the ants – for hours and hours, and never having had a thought other than to notice the beauty of the perfect world around me.  Maybe that was exactly enough, even though it no doubt meant I was not conscious.


“The Person in There”

“In my student days, one of the most useful things anyone told me was:  “There is always a person in there.”  In infants and senile people, seemingly worthless people and seemingly stupid children, there is someone in there.  Usually it is an embattled person struggling to live somehow with (or in spite of) all the inner and the outer content.  (Gendlin/FOP/287)”


“There is often so much unlovely stuff in a client, which cannot genuinely be regarded positively.  But I see no contradiction because, as I formulate it, unconditional positive regard is for the embattled person in there, not for the stuff.  The person in there is up against that same stuff, struggling to live with or in spite of it all, all the time.  I do not mean that it is always easy to feel for every person struggling inside, only that there is no contradiction here.

“Many people look at a person and see someone smart, or a jerk, a neurotic, a shy person, a Ukrainian, a psychologist, or a salesman.  People are these things, of course, but much more importantly, people are the one that is in there.

“There are various ways to think about this.  We can elevate the person as a spiritual essence, or reduce the person to an absurd bit of temporary flotsam.  But either way the person is in there, struggling, trying to live.  When we meet someone’s glance, someone is there, looking back.  That might feel good or make us nervous, but someone is there.

“Who looks back is not the person’s traits or experiences, not the felt sense either.  A person is not a felt sense; a person has a felt sense.  The person looking at you is none of the content.  Content does not look at you.

“Whether the client looks or not, someone is in there.  The basic interactional framework in which I practice therapy consists of putting nothing between, and sitting down with the person in there.  (Gendlin/FOP/287)”


“I know that every person has a deeper continuity even if at present it seems to be missing.  The client who looks out at me may feel thin and helpless.  The deeper (Gendlin/FOP/287) continuity may be lost or covered over, silenced, shut away since early childhood.  But I know it is still there.

“Instead of living from themselves, many people can only select what seems the best way one might feel.  Then they try to believe that they feel that.  In spite of this, there may still be a lot of anger, bitterness, and fear, a shakiness and no continuity, deep down.

“Clients sometimes report a loss of self:  “I feel empty inside” or “I don’t think I have any real self.”  The person looking at me reports the loss or lack of a deeper self.

“Such clients value the moments during therapy when they come inwardly alive.

“When a client reports having no self, being dead or absent inside, I say:  “I know there is a you way under there, and we won’t stop till we find it….

“It is like a person lost beneath the ruins of a gutted building.  As we walk through we might hear a tapping from far down.  Surely we would not walk by just because it is slight.  (Gendlin/FOP/288)”


there’s lots on image in this book and about connecting them to the body – call this book back in later for my next writing

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