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Eugene Gendlin's Focusing in Systemic Coaching
Emotional Blocks & Relationship Problems Martyn Carruthers

Online Systemic Coaching, Counseling & Therapy

We offer coaching, counseling and systemic changework,
for improving relationships, emotions and limiting beliefs.

Focusing on Emotions & Unconscious Communication

Clinical explanations of why you are upset are unlikely to help you, and cognitive problem solving rarely changes emotional states.

Endlessly pondering a trauma or relationship disppointmment is unlikely to help you and may worsen the consequences.

Focusing provides an effective way by which you can communicate with your unconscious mind (body-mind) through your feelings. We may use focusing
during our sessions to find, stabilize and communicate with inner experiences.

In 1982, Eugene Gendlin wrote about inner communication in a book titled Focusing. Gendlin's focusing can be sorted into six steps:

  1. Identify your concerns
  2. Feel (a felt sense)
  3. Handle
  4. Resonate
  5. Ask
  6. Experience a shift of the felt sense

Focusing is one way to improve inner communication, and you can find many more ways in our Systemic Coaching. Why not add focusing to other methods that you find useful? Let your results guide you about what works best for you.

If any step feels wrong in your body, stop and back up until you sense what is wrong. This helps keep you safe. Focusing may not work for you exactly as we describe, but it is not likely to hurt you. If you sense something that does not feel right, just stay with it until some information unfolds into your consciousness.

Yoga of Relationships . Meaning of Life . Mentorship & Integrity

Are you Damaged?

If nothing happens at all during focusing - it may be that your unconscious body-mind does not trust your conscious mind. This is often a result of trauma or PTSD, or it may follow therapist abuse or toxic training. Your mind may distrust your decisions.

If you trusted and opened yourself to someone, (e.g. a parent, therapist or trainer), and later you felt hurt or abused by that person, your body-mind may not allow you deep access until you remedy that harm; we call this mentor damage.

Worse, you may become unable to recognize healthy mentorship and your body may be unwilling to communicate feelings about "What makes sense in life?" Our work includes solutions for the consequences of trauma, therapist abuse, cult membership, trainer damage and toxic mentorship.


The goal of focusing is to experience an awareness called a felt sense. This is a body experience, more than mental nor emotional. Examples are vague, general senses (men may talk about gut feelings and women about female intuitions) that you may feel about some situations, events or people.

Gendlin wrote that these felt senses can indicate psychological and emotional problems which can be corrected. A change towards awareness or a solution may be accompanied by a detectable "felt shift ". Your body seems to know what makes sense and offer you an easing or loosening up.

Focusing Steps

Focusing can be described as six general steps, although as you practice focusing, you may experience smooth transitions from questions to revelations. If you want to try focusing, take each step slowly and gently. If you find difficulty, don't push - gently wait before moving on.

Step 0. Reality check

Is this an appropriate time to do this? Are you likely to be distracted or disturbed?

Step 1. Find your concerns

Be silent, relax ... pay attention inwardly, in your body, especially in your chest and abdomen. Ask inside, "How is my life generally? What makes sense right now?" and feel whatever comes. Just focus on feelings within your body. Let answers come slowly from your senses.

When feelings come, give them space. Mentally say "Yes, I can feel that, there." Then check what else you feel. Wait again. You may find several things.

Step 2. Feel

From whatever came, select one feeling. Notice which part of your body responds (often a chakra). If there are many parts to the one thing you have chosen you may feel all of those parts together. Pay attention to where you feel it, and you can get a sense of what this feels like. Let yourself feel a (probably unclear) sense of all of that - a felt sense.

Step 3. Handle

What word or phrase or image might describe or summarize this felt sense? Let it come up from the felt sense. It might be a quality-word, like sticky, scary, stuck, heavy, or a phrase, or an imagined image, smell or taste. Stay with the experience describing the felt sense till something seems to fit it just right.

Step 4. Resonate

Go back and forth between the felt sense and the word (or phrase, or image). Check how they resonate with each other. Check if there is a body signal that indicates resonance. To do it, feel the felt sense again, and remember the signal. Allow the felt sense and the word or picture to change, if they do, until they feel just right as symbols of the quality of the felt sense.

Step 5. Ask

Ask inside: what is it, about this whole situation, that makes this quality (which you have named or pictured)? Find the felt sense again, fresh and vivid (not just remembered). When you sense it again, feel it and ask inside, "What makes this problem so ___?" or, "What is within this sense?"

If you get quick answers without a felt sense, just let that kind of answer go. Return your attention to your body and freshly feel the felt sense again. Then ask again. Stay with the felt sense until something happens with a small shift or release.

Step 6. Receive

Accept whatever comes and stay with it. If you simply accept whatever comes, more can come. Now you can experience something that you have not yet verbalized, which can help you become more clear about what you want.

Online Life Coaching for Focusing

If you experience a felt sense ... you have focused. A felt sense and release often provides information about your sense of life and whatever blocks you.

Online Life Coaching, Counseling & Therapy

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 2000-2018
All rights reserved

If you like our work, please link to us. If you know someone who might benefit,
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For online help, email us at:

Soulwork systemic coaching in America & Hawaii


Soulwork systemic coaching in England, Wales & Scotland

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email