Eugene Gendlin – the man who gave us Focusing

I’ve mentioned and quoted Gene Gendlin a few times on my website, so I thought it was time to tell you some more about him.

Eugene Gendlin is a philosopher and psychotherapist. He was the first to coin the term Focusing after his research and work with Carl Rogers, the psychologist who helped develop the humanistic approach to psychology. In his studies, Gendlin found that psychotherapy clients who could become aware of their ‘felt sense’ usually progressed better in therapy, and needed fewer therapy sessions. His research led him to the conclusion that any person who could enter this special kind of awareness, different from our everyday awareness, could benefit – not just those in therapy. And it is something that we can all do. Some people find that they can quite quickly become aware of their felt sense, others need a little practice.

Gendlin observed that unresolved issues actually exist in our physical bodies. By Focusing on them, we can identify and change them – and we know they are changing, because as we do so our bodies release tension.

“Focusing grew out of the observation by Gendlin and his co-workers that many people were not being helped by traditional therapy. Those greatly improved were distinctive in their ability to tap an internal process ignored by most clients. [He] determined to understand this process so it could be taught and used by anyone.” (

Gendlin taught at the University of Chicago from 1964 to 1995, has written a number of books, and has been honoured several times by the American Psychology Association for his development of Experiential Psychotherapy. His first book in this field, called ‘Focusing’, has been continuously in print since 1978, and has been translated into 17 languages, and since then he has written several more.