Getting Free: A Year of Untangling

We (Barbara and Ann) developed the Untangling® method over nearly 30 years of working with Tangles.

We created Untangling® when we were facing impossibly tough life issues that resisted all our attempts to change. We both desperately needed something that would make a difference.

What we learned made us rethink everything we knew about trauma and change… and Focusing. Drawing from the experiences of our clients, students, and ourselves, along with our deep study of Gendlin’s ground-breaking Philosophy of the Implicit, we created Untangling®.

In Getting Free, you’ll get our guidance on how to move through the places in your life that feel completely and impossibly stuck.

We know from experience that life can be better because…

When your Tangle shifts… everything shifts.

Your life opens up in surprising ways. You feel more at ease being yourself. You free your abilities and gifts so that you are effortlessly more authentic, creative, emotionally available, playful, loving, compassionate.

You become more fully and freely yourself, and confident in your ability to meet new Tangles.

What could be better than that?

“When your Tangles untangle, you become vibrantly alive, feeling whole, comfortable in your own skin, living your own life.”

– Barbara & Ann

Want to know more?
Join us for a free webinar…

Want to find out more about how Getting Free can help you step into your calm, confident, courageous life? Just click here to email to schedule a chat with Ann Weiser Cornell, or you may want to join us our free webinar…

Watch Ann and Barbara in a free live 90-minute webinar called The Five Powers of Untangling: Why Life Gets So Stuck and How that Can Change.

  • Discover how Tangles form, why they get so stuck and how even the most snarled up Tangle can change—no matter how long ago it formed
  • Learn about the Five Powers of Presence that create the environment that make Untangling possible
  • Experience what happens when you relate to the Parts in your Tangle in a really different way

We’ll also talk about our yearlong course, Getting Free, and our in-person 6-day Untangling retreats—just two of the ways you can venture forward in your own Untangling® journey.

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“I used to feel lost, frustrated, and hopeless at times because it was hard for me to be in touch with my inner life to the degree and with the quality I wanted. I now have hope and confidence that I can find resolutions – ones I never could’ve imagined – to the issues in my life and how I hold them.”

– Annie F.

3 Steps to Getting Free


Strengthen Your Powers

As you master the five Powers of Presence, you become the environment of transformation for your Tangles.


Your Tangle Transforms

Within that environment, your Tangle transforms itself in spontaneous and unexpected ways


Confidently Embrace Your Life

Find yourself living in ways you couldn’t even imagine from inside your Tangle.

This is advanced training:
You’ll need Path to Lasting Change, Parts One and Two or the equivalent in order to join us.

“Being healthy isn’t having no problems, it’s having new problems.”
– Gene Gendlin

Seasons of Change

Base Camp

To engage with your Tangle at the level that brings real change, you need to radically strengthen your Powers of Presence. You’ll receive a thorough grounding in the first three Powers: The Power of Cultivating Self-in-Presence, The Power of And, and the Power of Deep Empathy. By the end of Base Camp, you will be well equipped to move to the next stage of Untangling.

Week 1 – Taking up the Challenge
Week 2 – Showing Up as Your Biggest Self
Week 3 – As Big as Montana
Week 4 – Deeply Listening
Week 5 – Deeply Understanding
Week 6 – Deeply Loving

Into the Maze

Living in a Tangle is like being lost in a maze. You think you’ve finally found the way out and then realize you’re actually going around in circles. There are dead ends everywhere. During this season, you’ll discover how every dead end is a doorway to transformation and you’ll learn the keys to unlocking those doorways.

Week 7 – Lost in the Maze
Week 8 – “Did I just do that?”
Week 9 – “Who’s pulling my strings?”
Week 10 – “Who’s that hiding in the bushes?”
Week 11 – “This is never going to work!”
Week 12 – Widening the Horizon of Possibility

Diving Beneath the Surface

At the heart of every Tangle there is a frozen core: something impossible to think, or to feel, or to do. In this season, you will learn two new Powers that enable you to be with what has been impossible – so that your Tangle can shift and you find yourself spontaneously taking your next steps of life.

Week 13 – Diving Deep
Week 14 – Dancing with the Dragon of Despair
Week 15 – Desperately Evading the Abyss
Week 16 – True Love
Week 17 – Touching the Frozen Core
Week 18 – Life Emerging

Into the World

As your Tangles untangle, and your life starts to open in unexpected ways, you will find yourself faced with new challenges. Whether they’re in your work, or your relationships, or your creative endeavors, you can embrace these challenges as precious opportunities for even more growth. In this season, you’ll explore what becomes possible as you feel stronger and more confident in your powers, able to meet whatever life brings.

Week 19 – Easier – and Harder
Week 20 – It Takes Two to Tangle
Week 21 – Dancing with the Mystery
Week 22 – Life Beyond Tangles?
Week 23 – Bring It On, World!
Week 24– Getting Free

Want to see the full detailed curriculum? Click here

Base Camp

Taking up the Challenge
As you begin “base camp” you take up the challenge of strengthening your Powers of Presence and begin engaging with your Tangles. You meet fellow “Untanglers” who share your journey through the rocky and steep roads ahead, and you begin to get to know your Tangle.

Showing Up as Your Biggest Self
Tangles need you to be larger than they are. You develop your ability to stay grounded in Self-in-Presence as you interact with your Tangle. You cultivate inner and outer resources that strengthen your ability to engage with your Tangle as your largest Self. You learn what to do when embodying Self-in-Presence is hard.

As Big as Montana
Tangles are always multi-parted. This week, you develop your ability to become the space that the Parts in your Tangle need. This enables multiple Parts to be welcomed and equally valued… so that the next steps can happen.

Deeply Listening
The Parts in your Tangle need empathy and relationship. During the next three meetings we will be exploring the Power of Deep Empathy. With this Power, you’re able to relate to the Parts that you find in your Tangle in the way that each Part needs so that something radically new can happen.
This week, we focus on how to enable Parts to express their deepest fears and hopes for you.

Deeply Understanding
Different kinds of Parts present different kinds of challenges to you as Self-in-Presence. Those Parts are faced with different kinds of challenges themselves. This week we explore what Protector and Defender-type Parts are like, how they behave, and how to respond to the different kinds of challenges they present.

Deeply Loving
This week, you go even deeper. You learn about the qualities and needs of a third type of Part, the Small One. You explore the transformational power of developing a relationship with any Part, especially with Small Ones. And you get ready to transition into the next season, which is about the tough things Parts in a Tangle put you through, and how to meet those challenges.

Into the Maze

Lost in the Maze
When you are inside a Tangle, “hijacks” and “takeovers” by Parts are everywhere. It’s confusing to know where you are, what is happening, and what can be trusted. You’ll learn to recognize these patterns so you grow in your ability to respond when you find yourself entangled in them.

“Did I just do that?”
Sometimes you become identified with a Defender or Small One so quickly that you find yourself acting before there is any reflective awareness as Self-in-Presence. We call that being “hijacked.” You’ll learn how to recognize when that’s happening and how to cultivate Self-in-Presence so that you are in the driver’s seat instead of being driven by a Part. You’ll develop your ability to create a relationship with hijacking Parts so that hijack happens less and less often.

“Who’s pulling my strings?”
When a Protector takes over, its beliefs and feelings can seem to be our own. Protectors can hide in plain sight by masquerading as Self-in-Presence. You learn how to recognize and respond to these “takeovers” so that worried Protector Parts get the kind of relationship they truly need in order to transform.

“Who’s that hiding in the bushes?”
Many things that are mysterious about our Tangles become clear when we realize that some Parts are operating invisibly. In a Tangle, Parts can have impacts and effects without our being able to perceive them directly. You learn how to detect invisible Parts and how to develop relationships with them so they can transform.

“This is never going to work!”
Many Parts are scared of what might happen if you get close to the core of the Tangle. They have lots of strategies to stop you in your tracks, including saying, “This is never going to work.” You learn to recognize their strategies and cultivate relationships with these worried Parts so that they trust you to be OK as you get near the core of the Tangle.

Widening the Horizon of Possibility
You further develop your capacity to be a wide open space, a welcoming environment where your whole Tangle can be just as it is. You learn how to get a felt sense of your whole Tangle. A fresh experience of how the whole thing is now forms. You are, in this new moment, already living beyond the Tangle in ways that couldn’t happen before.

Diving Beneath the Surface

Diving Deep
As you find your way to the core of a Tangle, you encounter Parts that have been frozen in time, unable to live forward. In this season, you’ll strengthen your capacity to be the Transformational Environment of Self-in-Presence for what feels impossibly stuck. You learn how to take each of the Powers of Presence to a deeper level so that you can provide what these Parts need and fill in what they are missing.

Desperately Evading the Abyss
When a desperate Small One gets loose in the world, and sees a chance to get what it longs for, it can behave in ways that disregard both reality and other people. You’ll learn why trying to give a desperate Small One what it believes it needs keeps you trapped in the Tangle… and how to be what the Small One really needs instead.

True Love
Trauma is at the heart of every Tangle. A key element of Untangling is becoming the healing environment for what has been traumatized. Discover how to create a trustworthy relationship with Parts that are frozen, still living in the time of the trauma. And learn a way of responding to them that enables them to live forward again.

Touching the Frozen Core
As you dive deep to the core of the Tangle, you come to an experience we call the Point of Stoppage. You’ll learn about the nature of the Point of Stoppage and why treating it as a Part will be ineffective – and what to do instead. When you can bring awareness to what has not yet been formed, and stand how uncomfortable that is, whole system shifts become possible.

Dancing with the Dragon of Despair
When Parts have been struggling for what seems like forever to get out of a Tangle, they can become deeply discouraged and despairing. They are afraid the reality is this is never going to change. That you are essentially broken and can never heal. That you don’t have what it takes to live fully and freely. As you learn to dance with these Dragons, they begin to hope again.

Life Emerging
Your unlived life has always been ready to live forward again. It’s just been waiting for the right conditions. The good news is that you can create those conditions. Using the Powers of Presence, you meet the needs of your entangled Parts. You hold a space for new life to emerge. As you begin to live beyond the Tangle, you sense what is possible now that was not possible before.

Into the World

Easier – and Harder
As your Tangle loosens, some things will get easier, allowing you to welcome bigger challenges in your life. As you develop your ability to meet the new challenges that arise when life starts to get more free, your confidence in your ability to encounter new problems grows. You now know that what seems to be a setback is a precious opportunity for further growth.

It Takes Two to Tangle
Tangles always involve other people. Everybody has Parts. In our closest relationships, our Parts often mutually entangle. You learn to recognize when things in a relationship are getting “Parts-y.” You learn how to stay grounded or return to Self-in-Presence when Parts get triggered.

Dancing with the Mystery
Every interaction you have is a fabulous opportunity for relating from Self-in-Presence to the other person’s largest Self. As you live more and more from Self-in-Presence, you experience the difference between Parts-y reactions and being responsive. You’ll know from your core that taking responsibility for your actions includes taking responsibility for the actions of your Parts.

Life Beyond Tangles?
Is there such a thing as life beyond Tangles? Well, it’s not “everything is easy now.” It is not being all done and finished. It’s not Nirvana, or Heaven. It doesn’t mean getting everything you want. Perhaps life beyond Tangles is really two things: Living your whole life more and more from Self-in-Presence, and having the capacity to respond to stoppages as they occur so that interaction becomes freely available again.

Bring It On, World!
As you live from Self-in-Presence more and more, you can be comfortable with being uncomfortable. When Parts arise (and they will), you recognize they are there and are able to turn toward them. Your capacity to enter into and engage with life – whatever happens – deepens and strengthens.

Getting Free
Profound transformation happens in magical and paradoxical ways, unpredictably yet always in the direction of living freely. Doing this work in community is deeply nourishing. During this year you have created connections that can sustain and support you as you go forward. When your Tangle shifts, your life opens up in surprising ways. You free your abilities and gifts so that you are effortlessly more authentic, creative, emotionally available, playful, loving, compassionate…

“In every tough situation I can be curious. Even in the hardest times, I know I’m OK.”

– Ann Weiser Cornell

Are You Ready to Get Free?

Discover how you can be with the challenges in your life in a healthy, supportive way (and why that changes everything)


Registration is currently closed. If you’d like to be notified when the class is available again, please email Allison.

What People Are Saying…

The testimonials below are about our Untangling work, which we offer in six-day retreats and in the Getting Free course.

About the Teachers

Ann and Barbara

Ann Weiser Cornell

Ann Weiser Cornell struggled with painful addiction, anxiety in social situations, and an inability to do the thing she most wanted to do – write.

Ann created Inner Relationship Focusing with her long-time colleague, Barbara McGavin, to help alleviate the thinking and feeling cycles that kept her stuck in hard places. It changed her life, and it became her mission to help others create quiet miracles in their lives too.

For over 35 years now, Ann’s been teaching this practical, revolutionary process to people all over the world.

Barbara McGavin

Barbara McGavin’s greatest joy is exploring the frontiers of the Focusing process – what it is and how it can be applied in daily life.

Since 1991, she has been developing Inner Relationship Focusing with Ann Weiser Cornell. Since 1994, the two of them have been exploring Focusing in some of the most difficult areas of life. Untangling™ has grown out of this and is the core of Barbara’s own Focusing practice.

Barbara’s other great interest is in how Focusing can be used in the creative arts. She has developed a process called From Spark to Beacon to help people develop and release their creative capacities.

Additional Information

How Online Courses Work

We use Zoom, an online video conference platform, to connect you to other students and the teacher. Before the class starts you will receive a Zoom link to use each time the class meets. You can join us via your camera-equipped computer, tablet, or smart phone. Prefer not to be on video? You can turn off your camera. Don’t want to call via computer? You can call in by phone. Zoom is free and easy to use. You will be able to sign on in advance to make sure you can access it, but we’ve had very few problems with it. Students also receive access to a private webpage where course materials can be found.

We use Ruzuku, an online course content platform, to provide your course materials, recordings, and a discussion forum. During the checkout process, you’ll be invited to create a Ruzuku account (if you don’t already have one) or add the course to your existing Ruzuku account. Please be sure to watch for this step and contact our Customer Happiness Manager right away if you don’t see it.


This is advanced training: You’ll need four Levels of Focusing (now taught under the name Path to Lasting Change, Parts One and Two), or a 6-day Treasure Maps retreat, in order to join us.


Continuing Education Credit& Record of Completion

Course meets the qualifications for 48 hours of continuing education credit for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Focusing Resources, CAMFT Approved CE Provider #62524.

Focusing Resources is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs. Focusing Resources maintains responsibility for this course and its content.

There is a $25 administrative fee for CE Credits. Records of Completion are awarded at the end of the course upon completion of all requirements and the course evaluation. (If you don’t want CE Credits but would like a Record of Completion, the $25 fee does still apply.)

Eligibility for CE Credits requires at least 80% live attendance. Missed classes must be made up.

Cancellations, Changes & Refunds

Up to 14 days before the first day of class: Just let us know and we’ll refund your course fee. Or you can choose to apply the entire course fee towards a future class with us.

Cancellations received 13 days or fewer before class begins: No refund, sorry.

When Something Doesn't Go As You'd Hoped...

We are always open to discussing experiences with our courses that didn’t work for you or didn’t go the way you expected. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to email your course instructor, the staff member in charge of your course, or Ann Weiser Cornell. Email addresses for all these people will be supplied on registration. We will work with you to find a way to meet your needs.

Got Questions? We’ve Got Your Answers…

Do I have to be present for every class? What about recordings?

This is a participatory partnership class and your presence at most of the classes is important, but there is no precise number of classes you need to attend — unless you want CE Credits, in which case you need to attend 80% of the classes and make up any missed classes. Every class will be recorded and the recordings will be available to every registered participant.

To respect the confidentiality and privacy of our participants we do not provide video recordings of our classes. All recordings are provided as audio files.

Can I take this course remotely, by listening to recordings?

Yes, that would be possible. You would not be able to receive CE Credits but you could participate in class discussions using the online forum, and you would be able to be in partnerships.

How does this compare to the retreats, the 6-day regular retreat, and the 6-day advanced retreat?

There is nothing like meeting in person! We love doing retreats because of the power of an in-person group in a beautiful place in the world. That said, the down-side of a retreat is that you go home in a week… and except for Focusing partnerships and emails, you are basically on your own. We’ve been longing for a way to support people over time to make the Untangling™ process a deep and enduring part of their lives.



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