& listening

Focusing & listening

with Peter Afford


the psychology of the bodily felt sense


is a reflective practice that brings the mind back to its natural centre in the felt experience of the body. It restores emotional equilibrium, renews the spirit, and helps you find your way forward in your life and in what you do. Focusing can be used to resolve unwanted feelings that thinking alone cannot change, to make decisions that feel 'right', and to think in fresh and creative ways. It was originally developed by Dr Eugene Gendlin - who has recently died at age 90. I have written a few words about him which I am posting at the bottom of this page.

Focusing can be practiced with another person, on your own, and in professional settings such as consultancy, coaching, counselling and therapy.

The 'inner listening' to the bodily felt sense in Focusing is complemented by the practice of listening and responding to others in empathic and sensitive ways. You learn to support them in their own inner listening. The 'experiential listening' skills of Focusing are profound and enriching to practice.

I run introductory workshops twice a year in London, the next one will be November 9/10th. The 'Focusing Skills' series of weekends (that follows the introductory workshop) runs each year, and the next series will kick off in March in 2019. And my workshops for experienced focusers include Focusing in helping relationships, Focusing with dreams, creative thinking and decision making. The next of these is 'Focusing in Helping Relationships' on March 2nd/3rd. Details of all this are on the Workshops page.

'Body Brain'...
is the title for a page about my interest in neurobiology and its usefulness in thinking about Focusing and therapy. I have put up some articles I've written in recent years on the subject, and there are details of a course I run called Neuroscience for Therapists. Click on the link in the menu on the left.

About myself
I have been practicing Focusing for more than 25 years. Originally, it taught me to trust my feelings and their capacity to move naturally once I stopped resisting them - and to trust my ability to respond empathically to others. Now, I practice it for personal and professional nourishment, teach the skills of Focusing and listening, and lean on both all the time in my work as a counsellor and therapist.

More information...
can be found by clicking on the headings listed on the left of this page.


Peter Afford
020 8673 1860




Some words about Gene Gendlin who died on 1st May 2017...

Gene Gendlin was one of two great minds I encountered in the 1980s when I was desperately seeking to understand myself and the whole thing about feelings that the humanistic psychology people kept going on about. The first was Carl Jung, whom I read avidly, then I came across focusing and thereby found Gene. Both provided insight to last a lifetime. And Gene provided more than this, something to do inside myself that meant I found my feelings, along with my empathy for others’ feelings. I learnt to feel and I learnt to listen. So simple, so important.

His was a great mind, with an originality of thinking that is very unusual. His ideas are not ones to excite you for a while and then you move on, they are ones that go on stimulating you years later. What’s more, he taught us how to anchor conceptual thought in feeling rather than build intellectual edifices.

I met him a few times, and we were never entirely at ease with each other. But the groups that formed around him were full of heart and soul, of humility, humour and tolerance of personal hang-ups – unlike the humanistic groups that challenged you on your ‘issues’. It might be ridiculous to say that focusing is based on love – but it is! The warm feelings that flow amongst groups of focusers are a wonderful experience, and testament to what Gene, with all his weird philosophy, was really about.

I often thought that Gene was really saying one thing. But that one thing has an infinite number of facets – we can harvest more any time we want. His spirit will live on, and who knows where it might lead us now?

Farewell Gene, and thank you.

© Peter Afford 2017