Untangling: An Introduction

Can what feels impossible become possible?

Do you feel blocked, tied up in knots, limited, stuck?
Do you battle with feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness?
Do you long for something that seems impossible to fulfill?

There is Help…

When something in your life has become so stuck that you can’t think or act your way out of it, that’s what we call a Tangle. When you are in a Tangle, you can’t imagine what would bring true relief and living forward.

Inside a Tangle, your possibilities are limited. It may feel like you have none at all. Maybe you’ve given up on that whole thing ever changing… but it still brings suffering.  Actually, in the very places where your life feels most Tangled, there is great potential for transformational change… and at some level you know it… but you don’t know how to get there.

Do you have a Tangle? You might want to watch this video…

 At A Glance


For anyone who is struggling with the kind of issue that persists over many years and is hard to change.


The creators of the Untangling® Method, Ann Weiser Cornell and Barbara McGavin, offer an introduction to their process step by step so that you can begin to apply it to your own tangles immediately.


Live Online Course – join us from anywhere in the world!


Our tangled and stuck life issues limit us from living our full, free, spontaneous and empowered lives. With Untangling®, our lives can open up to new possibilities, and what was impossible becomes possible again.

With Untangling®, you will learn how to:

  • Step back from your Tangle so that you can start to find relaxed and creative responses to life’s problems instead of being stuck.
  • Cultivate your resources of calm inner strength and self-compassion, so that you don’t feel stuck even if parts of you do.
  • Separate out the different strands and threads in your Tangle so you can begin to feel more ease amid the struggle.
  • Recognize “protector” parts that often masquerade as “thoughts,” or are invisible, yet are key to holding the Tangle in place… and to untangling it.
  • Develop your capacity to be empathic and compassionate toward your own stuck and struggling parts so their grip on you begins to loosen as they feel understood… and new possibilities begin to emerge.

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Personal growth work used to leave me feeling stuck, disappointed and like I was a failure. But after doing the Untangling® work, I have a roadmap I can practice with any time I need to. I now have more wellbeing and an eagerness to be with my parts when they come because I know that, with the right attention, there really are treasures to be found inside them.

Merav S.

We Know… We’ve Been There

Ann Weiser Cornell & Barbara McGavinWe created Untangling® because we ourselves were Tangled up in painfully impossible situations. In Ann’s case, addiction to alcohol. In Barbara’s case, depression that sometimes became suicidal. Focusing as we knew it then didn’t help. We had to come up with an approach that gave us real relief… and we did, in a series of intensive Focusing partnership sessions starting in September 1994.

Almost immediately, people asked us to teach them what we were learning. Since 1995 we have been leading Treasure Maps (Untangling®) retreats three or four times a year all over the world, enabling lasting change for hundreds and hundreds of people. We’ve refined our methods so that they are as easy to use and as effective as we can possibly make them… though we are still learning all the time.

Untangling® isn’t easy. But with patience and persistence, it does work. We not only got more freedom from the place where our lives were limited and bound, but we also began to access capacities that had not been available before, for all kinds of reasons. (That is the treasure…)

Over time, our own lives have really changed. We have better relationships, more satisfying work, more fun… We are operating on a bigger scope with fewer limitations. And perhaps most important, when something is not wonderful, we have grounded, practical, dependable processes for facing those difficulties with calm, confident energy.

3 Steps to Untangling®


Identify Your Tangle

Begin to understand there’s a good reason life has felt impossibly stuck and that can change.


Recognize Your Powers

Develop your inner powers and outer resources and learn how they’ll help your Tangle shift.


Start to Untangle

Take your first steps beyond being stuck so you can move closer to the life you’ve longed to live

(yes, it really works..even for tough challenges like addiction, anxiety, struggles with weight/food and so many other things)

This course has a pre-requisite. You’ll need Path to Lasting Change Part One (or Levels One and Two) and partnership experience.

Want a Free Taste?

Join us for a free webinar with Ann and Barbara to help you learn more about Untangling®.

Untangling® is a process based on Inner Relationship Focusing that can help you be present with your tangled life issues in such a way that they can begin to untangle and you can live into your own new possibilities.

In this live one-hour webinar, the creators of Untangling®, Barbara McGavin and Ann Weiser Cornell, will give you a taste of Untangling® that will probably be immediately helpful, and also answer questions from participants about their upcoming course.

Registration Coming Soon

Join us for the webinar where you’ll:

  • Understand why some life situations (Tangles) are so hard to change that anything you usually do to try to change them just makes them more stuck… and what’s the difference between those and something that’s simply hard to change.
  • Begin to encounter one of your own Tangles and learn how to approach it with fresh language that brings a new sense of spaciousness and hope.
  • Learn three new questions to ask of your Tangle so that you shift your relationship with it from burden to curiosity.

Course Information

What you will come away with at the end of the course:

  • An understanding of why some situations are so stuck that any attempt at change just makes them more stuck – and what you can do instead.
  • An understanding of why the inner state of Self-in-Presence, being able to keep company with anything, is key for Untangling®.
  • A whole array of methods for cultivating Self-in-Presence, and plenty of practice in using the ones that work best for you.
  • Ways to get beneath the surface of what is going on in a Tangle to the underlying conflicts involved in it.
  • How to step back from the War between two or more parts in a Tangle, creating an inner environment where transformational change can take place.
  • How to bring Deep Empathy to your inner world – developing your capacity for self-kindness and understanding – and why this is vital for real change.

The Structure of the Course

  • We will meet on Zoom, a live online webinar platform, two hours a week, for nine weeks.
  • There are course handouts that are taken from the handouts for our Treasure Maps retreat.
  • Each week there is a topic that is the next step in the process, starting with Getting to Know Your Tangle in Week One.
  • This is a partnership course, so we will assign you a new partner each week unless you make other arrangements.
  • Each week there is a guided exercise on that week’s topic that we will do together in class and you will be invited to repeat with your Untangling partner.
  • You have live interactive access to both teachers every week for questions and support… and by email between the classes.
  • You get more out of the course the more commitment and practice you put into it…. of course!

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Before the Untangling® course, I was constantly struggling with doubt. Very often I felt I was being too fast for other people or too impatient and I’d regret my interactions. At the same time, I was afraid to feel my vulnerability and that left me feeling like I was stuck. Now, I’m calmer. I listen in a different way. My husband and son are calmer too. There are less misunderstandings and arguments in our family. If I could say one thing to someone thinking about the course it would be, “Do it!”

Martina Blanke

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between this Untangling® course and the year-long Getting Free course or the Treasure Maps retreat?

This Untangling® course is an introduction to our method. It is not the same as either Getting Free or the Treasure Maps retreat. In both of those other courses, there is more content and more support for process. But with the Untangling® course you do get our entire method.

Does the Untangling® course meet the prerequisite for the Getting Free course?

This course does not meet the prerequisite for Getting Free. For that, you need to take Path to Lasting Change Parts One & Two.

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

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

What if I've already taken Untangling®: An Introduction Parts One & Two?

We think there’s a good reason to take Untangling® A 9-Week Introduction even if you already took Untangling® An Introduction. That reason is partnership. Having an assigned partner each week and a partnership exercise to do together can enable you to go much deeper with the Untangling work. We do offer discount coupons to honor that you took the course before (see the registration section of the page)… and we think you’ll be glad you took it again this way.

Upcoming Courses and Registration

This course is currently not scheduled. If you’d like to be notified when we offer it next, please contact Allison.

Can’t make this time? You can register and participate by listening to recordings of the course each week at a time that works with your schedule. But you won’t be eligible for CE units.

Took Untangling® before? If you took Untangling Part One before, use UT100 at checkout to get $100 off. If you took Untangling Parts One and Two before, use UT200 at checkout to save $200. Only one discount per customer, please.

This workshop is not currently scheduled. Please contact us if you are interested in being informed when this workshop goes on the schedule.

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.


This course has a pre-requisite. You’ll need Path to Lasting Change Part One (or Levels One and Two) and partnership experience.

Continuing Education Credit & Course Completion Certificate

Course meets the qualifications for 18 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 units. Course completion certificates are awarded at the end of the course upon completion of all requirements and the course evaluation. (If you don’t want CE units but would like a completion certificate, the $25 fee does still apply.)

Eligibility for CE units 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.

What People Are Saying About Untangling®

  • L.R.
    "I used to get so lost in my feelings of "being bad" that it left me feeling hopeless, confused and ashamed. It was so very painful. Now, I'm learning to be WITH my feelings and parts, including "the one who believes she is bad." Before Untangling, I'd be overtaken by feelings of deep pain and shame. Now, I can have a relationship with these feelings and I am so much calmer, stronger and hopeful! If you want more inner peace, I highly encourage you to take this course!"
  • Becky S.
    "My biggest challenge before the Untangling course was decluttering my house. I've been needing to do it for ages. I'd get a bit done slowly but more clutter would accumulate. This left me feeling overwhelmed, discouraged and hopeless. After the course, I gained a different perspective on all this. I identified a different starting point. Now, it's as if I knocked over one domino in a line of dominoes and I'm trying to keep up with all the decluttering that I now actually want to do! I feel hopeful and I'm seeing progress."
  • Brenda S.
    "Before the Untangling course, I was caught in a situation that made me totally unable to make a move one way or another to deal with it. This left me feeling immobilized. Now, not only has that specific challenged changed, but I'm able to take all kinds of new steps, both regarding the challenge and also other aspects of my life. The best part is that the steps happened easily and naturally, all by themselves, as a result of practicing Focusing and the Untangling processes. It's such a wonderful course! Thanks to both Ann and Barbara for putting together wonderful material and delivering it so beautifully!"
  • Stephen J.
    "From the very first class, I experienced things inside of me actually shifting in ways that were about more than just an intellectual understanding. Other people in my life commented on how I was different and how much they appreciated the change in me. My day-to-day interactions went more smoothly, felt more authentic and seemed to be more in tune with my desires for my life. Now, I am better able to make authentic choices for myself and to untangle stuck aspects of my life."
  • Micheline G.
    "The Untangling course helped me know that everything in me is on my side. Now, I'm able to be with everything and anything. I'm able to be present, listen, and let things unfold. It's not always easy yet I don't give up. There's hope in this process and I'm grateful to be connected with it and with all the wonderful people who are also devoted to the process. I am coming home to myself and it's so life-giving."
  • C.R.
    "I came to the Untangling course to deepen my Focusing practice and because "something" in me said this is what I need to do. It was right! What I loved about Untangling was the ability to really slow down the process and integrate it into my daily life. Now that I've completed the course, I feel more embodied and "real" in myself."
  • Vanessa N.
    "The biggest a-ha moment for me was when I suddenly realized that I was not that part of me that ALWAYS has a new strategy to jump-start my life. I finally understood that I'd been run since childhood by a partial-self with endless new plans that never brought me the peace it promised. Now, I do a much better job of welcoming my feelings with curiosity and Presence. I'm not afraid of strong emotions anymore."
  • Susan K.
    "Now that I've completed Untangling, I have tools and resources for moving forward in life where I was stuck before!"
  • Candace B.

    Candace Brindley photo"I came to Untangling wanting to break free from some longstanding patterns that prevent me from living my life to its full potential. I'd tried other things and nothing helped. It was so frustrating. I'd come to accept that nothing about these specific patterns would ever change. Untangling helped me step out of my head and into my body so that I could invite those experiences forward in a new way. Now, I can accept myself with compassion and I'm gaining the confidence to stay with myself, to discover the wisdom inside that's been dying to be heard."

  • Paula T.

    Paula T photo"Before Untangling, my life was at a stuck point. I couldn't see a way out. I'd tried other things but I could only get so far then the same problem would return. Untangling made a real difference. I was able to separate myself from the emotion that caused my anxiety. With perspective, I could observe the emotion in a more calm way. More importantly, I learned how to find what was needed to heal the experience that caused the emotion in the first place. I was surprised to discover that my Tangle wants something for me! It isn't out to sabotage me as I'd always thought. What a relief. Now, I'm less anxious than I used to be."

  • Michelle T.
    "This was an amazing class. And what I loved about it were the very specific instructions and directions. So often we hear from others things like 'You just have to love yourself'... or 'Just give yourself a break and just BE.' As if it were that simple. If it were that simple, we'd already be doing it. Ann and Barbara give very specific directions of ways to use deep empathy to love all parts of ourselves. I will use these tools for a long time!"
  • Marlys Mayfield
    marlysmayfield-small"The Untangling course can give a long-time Focuser a welcome and refreshing new blast-off of energy."
  • Jaki Fischer, nature photographer, Hemet CA

    "I can’t say enough good things about this class! It was truly life-changing. I came out of each session just amazed at the new possibilities. The Untangling class opened doors for me that I didn’t know could ever be opened. When this class started I felt really stuck. My life today has really opened up, and I’m accomplishing my goals with a sense of freedom and ease that I never dreamed was possible. I’d recommend this class to anyone who wants their life to change."



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