Gestalt/Experiential Training of Maine

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Carl Rogers & Gloria

Both training groups are underway, and we’re deep in the study of Person-Centered Therapy now. As we talk about both the theory and the interventions, we have read short excerpts from Rogers’ transcripts to get a sense of what his interventions are like.

As texts, these transcripts are fascinating and instructive. But text alone loses so much of what’s conveyed between the therapist and the client. Audio  — or, even better, video — allows us to more fully grasp the action.

Many counseling students have seen the famous “Gloria” film, where a woman allows herself to be filmed while having a single therapy session with three different therapists representing different approaches. Carl Rogers was one of those therapists.

If you haven’t seen it recently, or have never seen it, take the time to watch or rewatch it.

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2017-2018 Training Dates

The 2017-2018 training dates have now been finalized. Here is when each of the groups will be meeting:

The Wednesday group will meet from 9am to 11am on the following dates:

The Wednesday group is now wait-list only.

  • September 20
  • October 4 & 18
  • November 1 & 15
  • December 6 & 20
  • January 10 & 24
  • February 14 & 28
  • March 14 & 28
  • April 11 & 25
  • May 9 & 23
  • June 6


The Friday Group will meet from 9am to 1pm on the Following dates:

  • September 15
  • October 20
  • November 17
  • December 15
  • January 19
  • February 16
  • March 16
  • April 13
  • May 17
  • June 15

Note: This is the third Friday of every month except in April, when it is the second Friday.

Click Here for Registration Form

For more information, click here. 

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GETME Training Schedule Update

I’ve had a number of inquiries about the scheduling of the training, and I wanted to pass along some new options.

First: there were some folks who wanted to come, but simply could not make it on Fridays. So, in addition to the Friday section, we’re now offering a section every other Wednesday morning from 9am to 11am. This one is going to go for sure, so if you’re interested, let me know soon.

Second: Several people got in touch to say the training sounds great, they’d like to come, but they live far from Portland, and can’t see making the commute twice a month. Well if that’s you, and you’re still interested, I’m going to offer a section that meets one Friday a month for four hours instead of twice a month for two.

So there are now three options:

Beginning Autumn 2017

  • Section 1: Every other Wednesday, from 9am to 11am
  • Section 2: Every other Friday, from 9am to 11am
  • Section 3: One Friday a month, from 9am to 1pm*


  • Fully Licensed: $40/meeting
  • Conditionally Licensed: $30/meeting
  • Graduate Students: $20/meeting

* Cost is doubled for 4 hour meeting

Certificate of Contact Hours available.

What is Focusing?

GeneIn the 1950s, at Carl Rogers’ counseling center at the University of Chicago, researchers were trying to figure out why some people did very well in therapy, and others less well. They listened to thousands of hours of recorded counseling sessions trying to find the factors that might be making a difference. They tested and discarded many, many hypotheses in their search.

Gene Gendlin and others began to notice that certain clients were readily able to make contact with their inward, bodily-felt experience, while others were not. Those clients who, during therapy, would slow down, grow quiet, perhaps close their eyes, and really try to hone in on how their experience feels to them — and then stay with that experience — tended to do much better. These were clients who could and did gradually unfold and make explicit their emotionally-tinged, meaning-laden, physically felt experience in relation to whatever it was they were talking about.

Gendlin eventually named this activity “focusing,” and he called the thing being focused on the “felt-sense.” Gendlin made clear that he did not “invent” the felt sense or focusing, but simply gave names to observed human experience and activity.

The felt sense is often ignored or missed because it’s usually unclear or “murky” when we first become aware of it. Gendlin observed that by paying attention to the felt sense in a welcoming, gentle, respectful and sustained way (i.e., with the “focusing attitude”), we can experience a “felt shift”: a sense of relief, and often a sense of direction. In this way, we “carry forward” our experience, rather than staying stuck.

Given the therapeutic advantage of knowing how to focus, it seemed to the research team that it would be useful to be able to teach non-focusers to engage with themselves in this way. Formal Focusing, as developed by Gendlin, is a six-step, structured procedure for assisting people to locate and make use of their felt sense.

Once you learn focusing, it’s something you can do alone or with a partner, as part of therapy or totally separate from therapy. Many people experience it as a great “discovery” that is terrifically life-enhancing.

Along the way, Gendlin also created an approach to therapy he called “Focusing-Oriented Therapy.” This makes use of what we know about focusing, but does not involve the formal teaching of the six steps. While the client will learn focusing in bits and pieces during the course of a therapy, the therapist makes use of his or her own felt-sense during all sessions.

If you’re interested to learn more about focusing, there’s no better resource than, the website of the The Focusing Institute.

Gene Gendlin Memorial Service

Eugene_GendlinGene Gendlin (1926-2017), one of the true giants of Experiential Therapy, passed away on May 1st of this year. If you are interested, there is going to be a public memorial service for him in NYC on Saturday, August 12th. The event will also be live streamed on youtube if you are unable to attend in person.

Gendlin was studying philosophy (in particular, phenomenology) at the University of Chicago at that same time that Carl Rogers had his counseling research center there. Rogers and his colleagues, Gendlin realized, were doing a kind of applied phenomenology with their clients. Gendlin became part of their group, and Rogers and Gendlin came to deeply influence each other.

Gendlin completed his PhD., taught philosophy for decades, and considered himself primarily a philosopher. But he also trained as a therapist with Rogers’ group, and was an important player in the research and development of Person-Centered Therapy.

I’ll say a little more about Gendlin in my next post.

My Current Favorite EFT Book

Two years ago, Dr. Ladislav Timulak, a Slovak-born, Irish psychologist, produced an excellent explication of Emotion-Focused Therapy called Transforming Emotional Pain in Psychotherapy: An Emotion-Focused ApproachIt draws on the most recent EFT theory, and clearly describes the emotional territory traversed during a successful EFT therapy.

TEPIn EFT theory, each folk category of emotion (anger, joy, sadness, fear, etc.) can, in principle, function variously as a primary adaptive, primary maladaptive, secondary reactive, or instrumental emotion. Anyone trained in EFT will tell you this.

In practice, though, we psychotherapists don’t really see all of these theoretical possibilities in our offices. The common forms of core emotional pain — and the sequences of emotional processing that most elegantly facilitate their transformation — are not quite so infinite.

Dr. Timulak, building on the work of Dr. Antonio Pascual-Leone and Dr. Les Greenberg, clears the brush for us, and provides us with clear clinical maps for recognizing and resolving the basic types of core emotional pain with which our clients present.

Irv Yalom once observed that most (nonfiction) books are just bloated essays. I agree, and I’ve always appreciated a well-written, solid book of 150 pages that gets to the point without too much redundancy. I’m happy to report that Transforming Emotional Pain is just such a book.

Highly recommended!