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When the Focusing client is silent…

When the Focusing client is silent…
March 17, 2016 Ann Weiser Cornell

Focusing Tip #501


“What is the best way to bring someone back from silence?”


Paula writes:
What do you do when the client is in silence for a couple of minutes in a Focusing session? What is the best question to bring them back if they are not present to their felt sense?

Dear Paula:
Good question! I know that silence is something many people wonder about as they learn to facilitate Focusing in another person.

I’m not sure if your two questions are related…but the important thing to remember is that if a Focusing client is silent, we don’t know what is happening. We don’t know if they are not present to their felt sense. They might be doing fine, in that silence.

And if they are, we wouldn’t want to interrupt them.

So what can you say that intervenes in a silence if they person needs it, but doesn’t interrupt if they don’t need it? Here is what I do:

(1) I keep track of what was said just before the silence. We can understand the silence as a time when the Focusing client is doing what we suggested, or trying to do it. So the length of the silence tracks with what we think they are doing. For example, if we suggested they say Hello to something, that wouldn’t take long.

(2) When I get the sense that the silence has gone on a bit longer than “long enough,” then I say something. But it’s important what I say. I do not ask a question or give a suggestion. Instead, I just put into words what I hope they are doing.

For example: “So you said Hello and now you’re sensing how that feels.”

Or: “And you’re just being with it.”

I say these things quietly and warmly. And here’s what’s great: If the person IS doing it, they are not interrupted, but if the person is NOT doing it, then they will tell me what they are doing instead.

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