Focusing Workshop: Coming into the Circle

Coming into the Circle: Working with "the parts" in the treatment of dissociation and complex trauma

New Dates: Sept. 23, 24 and 25, 2017

Location: Nelson, BC

Cost: $345, ($275 for KBCSC members)

Submit registration form with payment to Box 546, Kaslo, BC, V0G 1M0.  Sorry, we cannot accept credit card payments. Download registration form here.

Dissociation is a survival response that helps us cope with experiences that might otherwise be unbearable.  This adaptive response can often be misunderstood and pathologized, especially in clients with a history of complex trauma.  Clients who struggle with chronic dissociation can spend years in therapy.  Working with the dissociated “parts” and helping the client to integrate fragmented aspects of the self is critical to healing.  Interventions are aimed at resolving incongruities between parts. Clients can carry deep shame.  Compartmentalization is not a personal flaw but can be the result of an abusive early environment.  Stabilization requires self-awareness, a strong observer self, curiosity, and building relationship with the fractured self. 

This process requires a client centered therapist driven approach.

Working with clients who are dissociated can be challenging and rewarding.  There is a growing body of research that can help toward a more efficacious treatment.  The use of Focusing Oriented Therapy and Expressive Art Therapies can ground us in this work.  Clients attend to the rupture and begin to repair, attune and integrate the split-off aspects of self. 

What is Focusing Oriented Therapy?

Focusing-Oriented Therapy (FOT) is a body-centered and person-centered approach to healing, developed three decades ago at the University of Chicago by Dr. Eugene Gendlin. Focusing-Oriented

Therapy (FOT) allows clients total control of the pace and the direction of their healing journey. It is particularly effective in the treatment and healing of complex trauma caused by accident, sexual, physical, emotional abuse and neglect. FOT has been especially well received in Aboriginal communities because of its humanistic, person-centered approach to healing which reflects the core values of respect and non-interference.

The practice of psychotherapy is undergoing changes resulting from current research in neuroscience which underscores the importance of attachment, emotion, the body and relationship in the healing process.  Focusing-Oriented Therapy (FOT) offers well-developed techniques to enable therapists to access body-oriented, implicit processes that researchers are finding key to neural integration and change.

Who should participate?

This workshop is intended for counsellors, social workers and therapists who are interested in developing advanced clinical treatment techniques and strategies essential to healing of traumatic life situations presented by many clients. FOT is particularly helpful to counsellors and therapists who work with Residential School Survivors, with addictions, and with survivors of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. The training especially benefits counsellors and therapists who work in Aboriginal agencies and/or communities or in various other cross-cultural situations/settings.

Participants with no previous experience in Focusing will be required to participate in a three hour Focusing Oriented Therapy Introduction. This Intro will be held in Nelson B.C. on Monday Sept 18th from 4-7pm.  Cost for this session is $75.  


Shaun Phillips, M.Ed., R.C.C., S.F.T.T., is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Supervising Focusing-Oriented Therapist and Trainer, and Focusing Coordinator. Shaun has a private practice with a range of children, adolescent and adult clients. Shaun is a world renowned presenter in the area of FOT and Complex Trauma having taught in Canada, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the United States.

Alexis Phillips, M.A., R.C.C., S.F.T.T. Alexis is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Supervising Focusing-Oriented Therapist and Trainer, and Focusing Coordinator. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Counselling Psychology. Alexis specializes in working with complex trauma and uses a Focusing Oriented Therapy approach in her work with children, youth and adults. She continues to present internationally on this work. Alexis, and her brother Shaun, are currently running FOT (Focusing Oriented Therapy) and Complex Trauma Certificate Programs in Canada, Japan and China.

Learning Objectives:

      Attendees will be able to:

  1. Provide two examples of how dissociation can be an adaptive response for clients with complex trauma;
  2. Describe fight, flight, freeze, fawn and how these relate to dissociation;
  3. Demonstrate a technique when working with “parts”;
  4. State that he/she had the opportunity to practice working with dissociation using Focusing-Oriented Therapy and drawing.