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Counselling & Healing Arts

Intuition and Therapy

Jan 21, 2022
Kathleen Lafferty, BA, MCP, RCC

Intuition is experienced within the body. Think about a “gut feeling” and what that experience feels like, when you know something deeply, even if you do not know it through objective facts. Your body is much more aware of your situation than you know in your mind. It is not something we are often taught in the current Western cultural system.

Learning the skill of tuning inward and gaining awareness of the body felt sense experience can lead to deeper and more profound healing than simply thinking and talking about your problems. This applies to a wide variety of mental and emotional issues, including depression, anxiety, relational struggles, self esteem, and general life stressors. Eugene Gendlin, the developer of the technique called Focusing, states,  “Your body “knows” the whole of each of your situations – vastly more aspects of it than you can think” (viii).

The body is not simply a machine, responding from brain structures and chemistry, or just a product of culture, education, and history. Eastern philosophy has already known for many thousands of years that it goes deeper than this. The body is a “wonderfully intricate interaction with everything around you, which is why it “knows” so much just in being” (viii).

If we take a moment to quiet down the mind and focus inward into the center of the body, we will be able to sense the living body underneath the thoughts, memories, and feelings. Through this, you will find a physically sensed zone, which you can enter, called a “felt sense”. This moment of paying attention inward elicits a bodily change and sense of release from the feeling of being stuck. It provides a new understanding and integration of previously unknown, unclear feelings or problems. Even though you are not necessarily solving the problem itself, it offers a space to become clearer and a higher level of integration of the body-mind and inner wisdom. It is a way to solve problems by tapping into areas below the surface level of consciousness.

Studies have shown that brainwave patterns of people who have experienced this “felt shift”, which is the term for the bodily sense of release that accompanies the focusing inward and the new understanding of a previously unclear feeling. The brain’s alpha and theta activity changed right before individuals felt a shift in their body-mind.

This process triggers personal insight, combination of intellectual awareness and gut feeling, and released tension. It leads to feeling lighter, more spacious and open, and feeling of a burden being lifted.

Using this focusing technique has amazing implications for clients who feel stuck or uncertain about how to solve their problems. It is a way to get below the conscious mind, into the body’s inner wisdom, and find answers through this process. It is extremely useful both in and outside of the therapist’s office, and easily taught to most clients with any mental health issue, and it works faster than talk-therapy alone.

Gendlin, E. T. (1981). Focusing. New York: Bantam Books.

Therapy, Intuition

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