• Paula Newman

Part 1: Focusing in group supervision: Preparation

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

I share my project with the kind permission of the three supervisees who participated. I will call them Robyn, Julie and Rebecca. The project took place over one academic year at a college counselling service which employed me as group supervisor and formed part of my training as a Focusing teacher. We met for two hours every fortnight, apart from college holidays.

I suggested my idea to the group hoping that members would find Focusing personally beneficial and that it would enhance our explorations of their counselling work. My project is written as I experienced it in the moment. As it is rather long I have divided it into four parts.


To begin with I focus upon whether to take a structured or less formal approach.

The first would involve creating a structure for bringing Focusing to the group and having some objective way of measuring the results.

I close my eyes which helps me to be more in touch with my inner experiencing. After a while I become aware of sensations in my body which I associate with a structured approach.

Something in my throat feels restricted, sort of tight, I keep swallowing. I notice a pulsing pressure at the back of my forehead, a type of dull pain, throbbing.

Another possibility is to include Focusing within supervision as and when I sense that it will be helpful, allowing a process to unfold. I could support Focusing with explanations, discussion and written material. Rather than asking for feedback in a formal manner such as questionnaires, I could ask supervisees for their responses as we go along.

I get a sense of how this feels in my body. I take deep, deep breaths, filling my lungs with oxygen, a sense of openness, freedom. The second way involves trusting my intuition and my sense of what is helpful whilst also trusting that something worthwhile will emerge. This feels risky with a nervous excitement, fluttering butterflies in my stomach.

I take into account the restriction associated with working in a structured way and the freedom of trusting and seeing what emerges. I acknowledge the butterflies and the sense of riskiness associated with a lack of structure. I notice where my energy lies and decide to take the second path.

Rogers’ words speak to the part of me which enjoys a sense of freedom when I am able to trust myself and my own resources. Rogers (1995)

Slowly I learned to trust the feelings, the ideas, the purposes that continually emerge in me. It was not an easy learning but a most valuable and continuing one. I found myself becoming much freer, more real, more deeply understanding. (p. 39).

In the group we talk about the project and discuss confidentiality. Each supervisee chooses a pseudonym for me to use in my written work - Julie, Rebecca and Robyn.

Being Self-in-Presence

On my journey home I feel panicky, my breathing quickens and my chest tightens I keep saying to myself ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’.

This is not my whole experience, a more confident part of me is enjoying the adventure and not knowing makes it even more fascinating. However right now I am merging with the panicky part, I am feeling overwhelmed and seeing my project from its panicky perspective.

I say to myself ‘I am sensing something in me that is panicking’. This helps me to be in relationship with the panicky part. The phrase ‘Something in me’ reminds me that there is also a confident part and that I can hear the panicky one without merging with it.

I acknowledge the panicky part, it feels heard and relaxes. My breathing becomes more even as I calm down.

Being Self-in-Presence involves seeing the whole picture and paying attention to whatever is going on within me, a panicky part a confident part and so on. All parts are welcome, there is space for everything.

When I am Self-in-Presence, extending attitudes of empathy, acceptance and gentle curiosity towards other people is a natural continuation.

When our Self is in a state of Presence, we are capable of acting with flow, sensing the whole situation (given the limits of what we can be aware of), connecting with here-and-now experience, and interacting freely with our environment. We call this Self-in-Presence. (2008)

Rogers, C.R, (1995) A Way of Being Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Cornell, AW &, McGavin, B, (2008) Treaure Maps to the Soul. The Focusing Folio, 21 (1). http://www.focusingresources.com/articles/treasure-maps-to-the-soul.html

Contact Paula Newman
Counsellor, Supervisor, Focusing trainer

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