Focusing addresses the mental health crisis

Addressing the worldwide crisis in mental healthcare

Focusing can help address the world’s mental healthcare crisis. People all over the world need mental healthcare and it is not available. The conversation about how to fill that need often ends with “We can’t possibly pay for it.” So people’s mental health care needs are not addressed. This is because the current treatment model relies on professionals with extensive training in mental health diagnostics and treatment. Clearly, we do not want to do away with the benefits of experienced therapists and the therapeutic relationship! However, not everyone needs that kind of help. In many situations, people just need someone who will listen to them without judgement, without giving advice or telling them what to feel. Focusers can do this. We help people listen to themselves in an empathic way. 

Focusing provides an atmosphere of inner freedom where learning can take place

Focusing Trainers are highly effective at helping people change their lives without any knowledge of diagnostics. Focusers see mental healthcare as a process of learning to listen to their bodily felt sense of situations. The body doesn’t lie. For that reason, learning to be aware of the bodily felt sense leads to increased self awareness, self empathy, and the ability to think more clearly about one’s situation. As a result, people with training in Focusing become more resourceful and resilient. Focusing Trainers provide an atmosphere of spacious listening and inner freedom where that learning can take place. 

Focusing training helps Salvadoran scholarship recipients stay in school

For example, In El Salvador, Focusing Trainer Heazel Martínez has been working with a grassroots organization, Nueva Esperanza. This Salvadoran NGO gives college scholarships to deserving young women from a troubled neighborhood. It also gives them leadership training, with the vision that the young women can become Community Healers. 

Low-cost Focusing sessions make scholarship program more effective

Scholarship recipients with traumatized backgrounds often have problems in college. Nueva Esperanza helps the young women create community in their neighborhood and provides loans for small business ventures and stipends for university expenses. The scholarship recipients also receive a Focusing and Listening session every other week, plus monthly workshops in Focusing and Nonviolent Communication. This is exactly what Focusing El Salvador is meant to do. Salvadoran mental health services are scarce and seeking help is stigmatized. In this situation, the kind of Listening that Heazel provides is transformative.

Focusing trainers can take pressure off of mental health care professionals

This is also an example of something that Community Focusing can offer the world.  The social worker at Nueva Esperanza has determined that two of the young women have mental health problems that require professional help. So those two are receiving professional mental health care. But the others are clearly benefitting from their individual Focusing sessions and classes. They don’t need professional help right now in order to move forward.

How Focusing training addresses the mental healthcare crisis

This shows one way that Focusing can address the mental healthcare crisis. Individual Focusing sessions and classes in Focusing and NVC can produce positive change without the traditional treatment mode. Moreover, learning Focusing and Listening give life-long tools that empower people to be in the drivers’ seat of their own lives.

Could this model help solve the mental healthcare crisis?

Let’s do an up-dated reality check on how the Nueva Esperanza model might work to address the crisis in mental healthcare. What do we call it? How do we present it? Is it a viable way of supplementing mental health services? Can we introduce the “triage” idea? A professional could determine who needs traditional mental health services and who could benefit from Focusing.

Adding Focusing’s embodied mental healthcare to programs that address material needs

The Nueva Esperanza example provides another compelling avenue for change: How can we embed Focusing within programs that address material needs but are missing the aspect of embodied mental health? How can we evaluate the progress of people who receive Focusing sessions and classes in addition to grants, scholarships and stipends? Perhaps the recent APA award recognizing Eugene Gendlin’s lifetime contribution could help this move forward. For Gene, Focusing is a human ability that anyone can learn, that can enhance and enliven any endeavor.
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