Inner Relationship Focusing

Inner Relationship Focusing (IRF) is a process for emotional healing and accessing positive life-forward energy. It has been developed by Ann Weiser Cornell and Barbara McGavin primarily out of their own practice, based on the Focusing work of Eugene Gendlin, with some influences from a number of other methods. (Cornell and McGavin, 2002.) Above all, the practice of IRF has been developed over 18 years of intensive work with clients who were engaging with difficult issues such as action blocks, addiction (primarily eating disorders), depressed and anxious states, and experiences of low self-worth. In addition to these types of issues, IRF has been developed with people who wanted to make decisions that were appropriate for them and to feel more confident in their own inner sense of rightness about their next life-forward steps. Despite its application to difficult life issues, IRF is not a method that is aimed at particular problem areas, but is adaptable to any issue that a client has, including relationship issues and even the suffering caused by pain and physical symptoms.

Like the Focusing method from which it emerges, IRF can be taught to people as a self-growth skill and can be done in pairs in a ‘peer counseling’ format. Networks of people doing IRF with each other in ‘Focusing partnership’ have arisen in a number of places in the world, and since the process can be done by telephone, partners do not need to be in the same physical location in order to work with each other. Professionally, IRF can be used by therapists, counselors, and other healing professionals in conjunction with other modalities, and it can also be done as a stand-alone practice by an ‘IRF Guide.’

One of the most striking applications of IRF is how it is being taught in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Dr. Pat Omidian and her students, supported by Nina Joy Lawrence, in a community-health model.

This article appeared in the Focusing Folio: Volume 21, Number 1, 2008

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