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Main FOAT® Approaches

Basic FOAT® Step

FOAT® begins with bringing mindful awareness into the body with an attitude of gentle curiosity and “friendliness” toward the inner experience. As we keep attention on the bodily felt sense, often a word, phrase, image, gesture, or sound comes that matches the felt sense. In Focusing, this is called the “handle” or symbol (see Gendlin, 1981, Focusing).

Felt sense in art

Felt sense in art

Felt shift (change) seen in art

The handle or symbol naturally unfolds into creative expression:


A word or phrase easily becomes a poem or writing


An image becomes the source for visual art expression 


A gesture unfolds into creative movement or dance


And a sound becomes music or a sound exploration


Clearing a Space with the Expressive Arts

Clearing a Space with the Expressive Arts (CAS-EXA) is a beneficial method of stress reduction and helping you to find the place within that is “All Fine.”  It is based on Eugene Gendlin’s (1981) step of Focusing, Clearing a Space– where you imagine placing “issues” that are in the way of feeling “All Fine” at a distance outside of your body. Once “placed,” you then sense the place inside that is separate from those things.

I call this the “All Fine Place.” 

During CAS-EXA, the expressive arts are used to place the issues and also represent the “All Fine Place.”  Most often people feel lighter, clearer, with a renewed sense of wellbeing. This is an exercise that can be practiced daily for stress reduction, centering, and as a prelude to working on any of the issues set aside. When only using visual art with Clearing a Space, it is called, Clearing a Space with Arts (CAS-Arts). Click here to view the Clearing a Space YouTube video.

Theme-Directed FOAT®

In Theme-Directed FOAT®, a topic is selected to focus on to address an individual or group’s needs. For example, to enhance strengths, the topic may be about your resources, support system, or gratitude. Topics may also be about issues that need addressing, such as fear, love, or anger. The following is an artistic expression of the felt sense image after practicing mindfulness teacher and Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh's Pebble Meditation.

Pebble Meditation

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Breathing in, I see myself as a flower

Breathing out, I feel fresh

Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain

Breathing out, I feel solid

Breathing in, I see myself as still water

Breathing out, I see clearly

Breathing in, I see myself as space

Breathing out, I feel free.

Felt Sense

Working on an Issue

In FOAT® Psychotherapy, both Focusing and the expressive arts are interwoven into the therapy process. FOAT® psychotherapy helps clients to befriend their felt experience, become more

self-compassionate over time, reduce stress, center themselves, regulate

emotion, work through deeper issues and access their inner wisdom and


Bruised heart with healing hands holding it

FOAT® Psychotherapy helps clients to access their own knowing in the context of a supportive, healing therapeutic relationship. FOAT® Psychotherapy is based on principles of safety, the Focusing Attitude of friendly curiosity, grounding, clinical sensitivity, and the wisdom of the body and creative intelligence.


For case examples, please visit the Books and Articles + Chapters sections of our Resources.

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