Focusing has been around for a long time. Gendlin's Focusing is 30 years old, and his first published Focusing directions were 10 years before that, based on research & theory during the previous 10 years - all total, a half-century. But the first published book-length book on Focusing-Oriented Therapy, Gendlin's Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy: A Manual of the Experiential Method, came out only in 1996. Now we have a half-dozen or so Focusing-Oriented Therapy books, each with its own strengths.
Purton's strength, here, is taking the wondrously rich, and often easy-to-experience but hard-to-understand processes of Focusing and how Focusing can enhance all therapies, and capturing their most-basic essence in pleasantly readable, surprisingly graspable writing. His glossary & chapter-end summaries are models of how to explain, simply, different Focusing processes & aspects.
For example: What's Focusing? "...focusing is the process of getting a felt sense of a problem through giving one's attention to the whole area of difficulty and then spending some time with the felt sense of it so that the new facets of the problem can emerge and carry one forward a step. Staying with the felt sense may not result in an immediate resolution of the problem but it can lead to a felt shift so that the problem is no longer experienced in quite the same way."
What's a felt sense? "The felt sense is our sense of a problem [or situation] as a whole. The problem can't be thought as a whole because in thinking about it we will draw out only certain facets - and there are endless facets. The only way of `having it', as a whole, is by getting a felt sense of it."
Focusing came out of research on why some clients succeeded in therapy while others failed. It was discovered that the therapist's theoretical orientation & technique - behavioral, psychodynamic, client-centered, etc. -- didn't make the difference. Nor did the content of what the client talked about. It was HOW the client talked about the content. Briefly & simplified, clients who succeeded in therapy Focused; they talked out of their felt sensing.
Obviously, then, Focusing, in some ways, can be used or facilitated by therapists from any theoretical orientation. And Focusing can help them make whatever they do more effective. Purton gives a clear, concise chapter on how the Focusing-Oriented approach applies to Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT) and the more Emotion-Focused, Catharsis/Feeling-Oriented Therapies. Purton's end-of-chapter summary: "...the resolution of personal problems can require hard thinking, logic, rationality; it can also involve emotional expression and catharsis. But neither of these is the whole story. Rather, thinking and emoting can bring us to the edge of the place from which further therapeutic progress can be made. That place lies `deeper' than both thinking and emoting, it is the place of our lived experiencing before it becomes formulated in thoughts or manifested in specific emotions. It is the place to which we need to go when neither thought nor emotional expression, nor any combination of these two, can carry us forward."
As a Focusing-Oriented therapist & counselor, one who uses many CBT & family therapy approaches & techniques, and with over 25 years' experience, I couldn't agree more. (Disclosure: I've studied & worked with Gendlin and many other Focusing professionals. I'm a Yank, though, and I've neither met nor communicated with Dr. Purton, a Brit, who directs a Focusing-Oriented Counseling program at the University of East Anglia, UK, and gives workshops throughout Europe.)
Note: This book doesn't teach Focusing; it's not a self-help book. Though Purton does discuss aspects of the Focusing process - Chapter 6 -- and about Focusing partnerships - Chapter 7. Rather, this book introduces therapists, whatever their approach, to how, with Focusing, they can make their therapy more effective. More reading, and more training & supervision will be needed. But Purton's book lets you know why you should read more, why you should seek out the training, which is available, literally, worldwide, in many countries & on every continent. This book MIGHT help a therapy client make their own therapy more effective. But again, more reading, likely some training will be necessary.
Yes, this is a Primer, an introduction to learning the Focusing-Oriented approach. It's an excellent start, leading the way to more detailed & conceptually dense works, such as Gendlin's Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy: A Manual of the Experiential Method or to the more technique-oriented ones, such as Neil Freidman's Focusing-Oriented Therapy: (Fot)or Bala Jaison's Integrating Experiential and Brief Therapy: How To Do Deep Therapy - Briefly and How To Do Brief Therapy - Deeply (Second Edition).
Purton: "Focusing-oriented counseling is counseling that is oriented toward focusing. That is, while many different kinds of things may go on in a F-OC session, there is a background orientation toward helping the client to be in touch with their own experiencing and to formulate their experiencing in ways that will carry them forward."
This doesn't mean that FOT therapists teach clients to Focus, and do, say, a version of Gendlin's six steps of Focusing with the client through much or most of the session. Purton, and I, strongly encourage therapists to learn, themselves, to Focus -- this is crucial. But FOT, as Purton says, is "...not usually a matter of teaching focusing to clients but of bringing into our client work little bits of the experience and the expertise [of our own Focusing]." And as with Gendlin & other FOT's, Purton's core of FOT is the relationship between client & therapist. "The first principal of F-OC... is that the therapist needs to do everything they can to create a friendly, interested, welcoming attitude towards whatever the client expresses. If the therapist senses that something is wrong in their interaction with the client then that needs attention before all else." So listening, obviously, is key, but not only Rogerian listening - empathy/compassion, unconditional positive regard/accepting & congruence/genuineness. These must be there, of course, but FOT listening in a very special, precise, experiencing, felt-sense-oriented listening, which has some crucial differences & precisions than "active" listening or "reflecting feelings".
Purton discusses phrases in the process of FOT, using Gendlin's 6 Steps as a scaffolding to help better oriented the therapist to the client's process. (See, esp., Chapter 9 & 10 - the first theoretical, the second a transcript of a FOT session.)
In Chapter 11, Purton shows how Gene's 40 years as a philosophy provide not a replacement, but a complimentary alternative for the mechanistic models of behavioralism & current cognitive therapy, as well as of the medical model, one based on the interacting first of person & environment, of feeling & conception. Adapting Kant, "Concepts without felt experience are empty; felt experience without concepts is blind." Gendlin provides new types of concepts - interacting, process concepts that include living & meaning-making - to compliment the atomistic, unit model concepts increasingly popular in science, even the social sciences since the 17th c. and Galileo, Newton & Descartes.
Personally, I found Chapter 12, on Focusing-Oriented Research, enheartening. From the 1950's into the 1970's, Person-Centered Research was at the forefront of psychotherapy research, a tradition that waned since humanistic psychology rejected medical model & DSM understandings, and subsequently diminished, even disappeared in many major academic settings. Focusing-Oriented Research does continue, and perhaps this chapter will be a spur to its return, thus re-establishing its validity, its effectiveness.
As a brief introduction, this is one of two I highly recommend for "getting your feet wet" in learning/assimilating Focusing-Oriented Therapy (earlier called, "Experiential Psychotherapy"). The other is a chapter, by Gendlin, "Experiential Psychotherapy", in the 1970's editions of Corsini's Current Psychotherapies. Either one, or better, both together, give therapists, regardless of their background, a friendly welcome to incorporating, embodying a Focusing awareness & orientation into their understandings & practices.