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Roots, Branches, and Wings

FOAT Institute Presentation Series

Watercolor Leaves

Pioneers, Master Teachers, and More


Focusing-Oriented Expressive Arts (FOAT®) has its roots in Focusing, developed by Eugene Gendlin and in the field of expressive arts. This series invites presenters from the early days of Focusing who personally knew Gene Gendlin and carry forward a profound understanding of Gene, the person and his work. As the presenters share stories, it helps to carry forward the livingness of the person, Gene— enriching our understanding and applications of Focusing today and for the future. 

FOAT is also rooted in the expressive arts invites Pioneers and Master Teachers from the field (including all of the arts modalities) to share about their inspiration from those early days. This is a rare opportunity to bring the seeds of inspiration, carrying those stories and ideas into the present, while embracing the creative response to unfold in new ways.


Presenters will also share how their understanding and work in Focusing or Expressive Arts has unfolded— creating the branches from their foundation and roots. The branches are the ways Focusing and expressive arts have been developed into newer approaches and methods, responding to the interaction between the presenter and their interests.


The wings are how Focusing and Expressive Arts have spread into all parts of the world with applications to many fields (e.g. psychotherapy counseling, education, coaching, wellness, spirituality, creativity, self-care, personal growth, research, and more). The wings also represent FOAT— integrating the roots of this embodied knowing with the transformational properties of creativity.

All offerings in this series will be open to all levels of experience in Focusing, Expressive Arts, and FOAT!

Continuing in 2023!

Thank you to our amazing FOAT Community for your overwhelming support for this series. We are delighted to announce that we will be continuing this series in 2023 (and beyond)! All announcements about Roots, Branches, and Wings will come through our main email newsletter.

To sign up for our email list, please fill out your name and email below, then press the Subscribe button!

Past Presentation Calendar

See our 2021/2022 presentations below! 

For those that attended the live presentations and want to attain CEs,

click here to view the CE information and purchase links.

Monday, November 7th, 2022   1:00 - 3:00PM PST  /  4:00 - 6:00PM EST  /  Click here for your time zone

For Asia: Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

Rhythmic Attunement in Expressive Arts:
Attachment, Embodied Empathy, and Interpersonal Neurobiology

Mitchell Kossak, Ph.D., LMHC, REAT

Dr. Mitchell Kossak will share about his 1980 meeting of Paolo Knill, Ph.D. (pioneer of intermodal expressive arts)— including reflections about Paolo's profound inspiration in the field worldwide.  After, Mitchell will present his research on rhythmic attunement and how engagement in expressive arts can lead to flow states— or what is referred to as unitive experiences, sometimes amounting to a felt sense of union with other people, other life forms, objects, environments, the divine, or the universe itself. 

Therapeutic attunement can be viewed as being based on an embodied awareness of rhythmic flow, and on mutual connections that occur when there is an intense process of deep listening, kinesthetic awareness, and deep attention to what is occurring in the moment—which can be thought of as mindfulness attention.  This presentation will  introduce the basic underlying principles of therapeutic attunement— including concepts of resonance, rhythm, misattunement, embodied empathy, attachment, entrainment, and interpersonal neurobiology that affects us personally and interpersonally.  Experiential exercises are included.

About Mitchell Kossak:

Mitchell Kossak, Ph.D., LMHC, REAT, is the author of Attunement in Expressive Arts Therapy: Toward an Understanding of Embodied Empathy and a professor in the Expressive Therapies program at Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Kossak has worked as an expressive arts therapist since 1983 and has been a licensed mental health counselor since 1994. He is the past President/Executive Co-Chair of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA) and the Associate Editor of The Journal of Applied Arts and Health. His clinical work combines expressive arts therapy with body-centered approaches with a variety of populations addressing issues such as chronic pain, recovery from trauma, depression, anxiety, life transitions, and relationships. Mitchell is also a professional musician performing for over 35 years in the Boston area. 

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 Mitchell only: $25

 Bundle offer:

 Ann + Mitchell: $45

For scholarship/work study inquiries please contact us.

Registration Deadline:

 Bundle: July 29th

 Mitchell only: November 4th

Monday, August 1st, 2022   3:00PM - 5:00PM PDT  /  6:00PM - 8:00PM EDT  Click here for your time zone

For Asia: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

Carrying Focusing Forward is a Creative Process

Ann Weiser Cornell, Ph.D.

Ann will tell the story of meeting and learning Focusing from Gene Gendlin 50 years ago, when she was 22— and how Gene encouraged her to develop her own ideas about teaching Focusing, saying “Keep going!” It’s a part of Gene’s philosophy that the only way to be true to an idea or a method is to bring it through your own body and make it your own. After, Ann will share about the development of Inner Relationship Focusing, and how it grew from seeds planted while she was assisting Gene with his first Focusing workshops. 


Inner Relationship Focusing (IRF) is an approach to Focusing based on cultivating an inner state of calm, curious acceptance toward all aspects of the self, including stressful and judgmental thoughts and all sorts of emotions and body sensations. An important principle is the “radical acceptance of everything,” the assumption that there are no enemies inside, and everything in us deserves and needs compassion for how it is trying to help us. Ann will present the main highlights of Inner Relationship Focusing along with an experiential exercise.

About Ann Weiser Cornell:

Ann Weiser Cornell, Ph.D., is an internationally known author and psychology educator who has been teaching Focusing in twenty countries around the world for over thirty-five years. She is the founder and President of Focusing Resources, providing training and a wealth of written, audio, and video materials. Ann is the co-creator, with Barbara McGavin, of Inner Relationship Focusing and Untangling®, an application of Focusing to tough life issues. Her books include: The Power of Focusing; The Radical Acceptance of Everything; Presence: A Guide to Transforming Your Most Challenging Emotions; and Focusing in Clinical Practice: The Essence of Change.

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  Ann only: $25

  Bundle offer:

  Ann + Mitchell: $45

For scholarship/work study inquiries please contact us.

Registration Deadline (Ann only + Bundle): July 29th, 2022

Monday, June 6th, 2022   1:00PM - 3:00PM PDT  /  4:00PM - 6:00PM EDT  /  Click here for your time zone

For Asia: Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

Natalie Rogers, a Mentor and Friend:
Person-Centered Expressive Arts and Its Applications

Anin Utigaard, MA, MFT, REAT

Anin Utigaard, MA, MFT, REAT, met Natalie Rogers, Ph.D., pioneer of Person-Centered Expressive Arts in 1988. Natalie Rogers was the founder of the Person-Centered Expressive Therapy Institute (PCETI), and the daughter of Carl Rogers— a humanistic psychologist who developed the Person-Centered (and Client-Centered) approach to counseling and psychotherapy. Anin will share highlights of what she learned from Natalie through her experiences in many roles (i.e. student, co-facilitator, mentee, colleague, and friend)— and from the legacy that Natalie left to the field and global community.


After, Anin will present the philosophy and foundation with the Person-Centered Expressive Arts Approach and how it can be applied to working with clients, groups, couples, families, and children. She will discuss how the Person-Centered methods assisted her in working with adolescents in a treatment center and private practice. Additionally, Anin will illustrate how the expressive arts helps teens to move through resistances while providing a safe place to express and process their inner life. The presentation includes a Person-Centered experiential exercise, along with opportunities for sharing, reflections, and Q&A.

About Anin Utigaard:

Nina “Anin”' Utigaard is a licensed Marriage Family Therapist (MFT) and Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT). She works with individuals and groups of all ages and cultures. She was a founding Executive Co-Chair for the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and continues to be on the Advisory Council for the organization. Anin was a faculty member with Natalie Rogers’ Person-Centered Expressive Therapy Institute for over ten years, and uses the Person-Centered approach in her work with clients. She has presented her work nationally and internationally since 1992. Her work with trauma, addiction, and adolescents began in 1991 at ThunderRoad in Oakland, California, where she used the PCEXA therapy with teens. Anin has a fine arts and professional music background, which she combined with psychology and the humanistic approach in psychotherapy. She believes that the arts are a transformative power that can change the world we live in.

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  Anin only: $25

  Bundle offers:

  Anin + Ann: $45

  Anin + Ann + Mitchell: $65

For scholarship/work study inquiries please contact us.

Registration Deadline

(For Anin only + All Bundles):

June 3rd, 2022

Monday, April 4th, 2022   1:00PM - 3:00PM PST  /  4:00PM - 6:00PM EST  /  Click here for your time zone

For Asia: Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

A Focusing Approach to Positivity:
Focusing on What You Love and What Matters Most

Joan Klagsbrun, Ph.D.

Joan Klagsbrun met Eugene Gendlin in 1976 and maintained a close connection with him through his life, as well as with his wife Mary Hendricks-Gendlin. After Joan shares stories that illuminate what was inspiring about Gene and his teachings, she will present how to integrate Focusing with Positive Psychology.


Focusing, developed by Eugene Gendlin, is an evidence-based approach and an intrinsically optimistic method. It can help us to discover and savor the positive aspects of our Iives. By Focusing on our good experiences, we not only get to the essence of what was so pleasurable or so meaningful, but we deepen our sense of wellbeing and invite it to grow.


Research affirms this wisdom of placing attention on positive experiences and feelings. Positive emotions build inner resources to help us become more resilient. People who have a higher ratio of ‘positivity’ to ‘negativity’ also have more energy, more creativity, and better health. Most of us reflexively dwell on our problems and concerns. When we are able to feel gratitude, contentment, or enjoyment, for example, we can actually elevate our mood and think more effectively.  

Joan’s presentation will also include an experiential component that includes time to Focus on some pathways to happiness that can strengthen a sense of wellbeing and enrich our lives.

About Joan Klagsbrun:

Joan Klagsbrun, Ph.D. is a psychologist, a Certifying Coordinator in Focusing, and a Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy Trainer who has been practicing for the past 40 years. Joan also is an Adjunct Professor at Lesley University, where she has taught Focusing and integrates her long-standing interest in the intersection of spirituality and psychology. She also taught for several years at the Focusing Summer School.

Joan has been teaching Focusing to the public and to health care and mental health professionals nationally and internationally for over three decades across six continents. For fourteen years, she served on the Board of the Focusing Institute. Her publications include articles in professional journals and chapters in several books. Her most recent chapter, co-written with Julian Miller, is Acknowledging the Dark and Embracing the Light in the Time of Covid-19, published in Senses of Focusing Volume I in 2021.

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  • Joan's only: $25

  • Judy and Joan 

    Bundle: $45

For scholarship/work study inquiries please contact us.

Registration Deadline:

April 1, 2022

Monday, February 7th, 2022   1:00PM - 3:00PM PST  /  4:00PM - 6:00PM EST  /  Click here for your time zone

For Asia: Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

Growing Up with Art Therapy:
A Glorious Adventure for Almost 6 Decades!

Judy A. Rubin, Ph.D., ATR-BC, HLM 


Judy Rubin is a pioneer art therapist who began her work in 1963, when the profession itself was in the process of being born. In the first part of this presentation, Judy will share stories from the early days of the development of art therapy in the United States. Making it up as she went along, Judy had the good fortune to meet some generous visionaries whose guidance was critical— including Erik Erikson, Margaret Naumburg, Edith Kramer, and Irene Jakab. 


Next, Judy will show videos from different periods in the growth of art and all the expressive arts therapies, where you will meet others who helped to invent these professions. Judy will also talk about what she learned as the “Art Lady” on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and its effect on all of her later work. 

Additionally, Judy will discuss her hopes and vision for the future, including her dream of providing a streaming library where people can view classic and contemporary films— and can learn by watching master clinicians conducting thoughtful and sensitive therapy using all of the expressive arts. 

About Judy Rubin:

Judy A. Rubin, Ph.D., ATR-BC, HLM is a licensed psychologist, child and adult psychoanalyst, and board-certified art therapist. A past President and Honorary Life Member of the American Art Therapy Association, she has written six books and created thirteen films. For three years in the 1960’s she was the Art Lady on the PBS children’s program, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Now retired from clinical practice and regular teaching, she served for forty years on the faculties of the Psychiatry Department at the University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Psychoanalytic Center. She also presented and taught at many universities and conferences in the U.S. and abroad. President and co-founder of Expressive Media, she has recently launched an online Training Film Library in the expressive therapies.

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  • Judy's only: $25

  • Judy and Joan 

    Bundle: $45

For scholarship/work study inquiries please contact us.

Registration Deadline:

February 4, 2022


Wednesday, November 10th, 2021   4:00PM - 6:00PM PST  /  7:00PM - 9:00PM EST  /  Click here for your time zone
For Asia: Thursday, November 11th, 2021

Exploring the Fundamentals of Focusing: Experiencing and Crossing

Akira Ikemi, Ph.D.

Dr. Akira Ikemi first met Gene Gendlin in 1979, then became a graduate student at the University of Chicago where Gene was a professor.  The first part of this workshop will begin with Akira Ikemi’s personal reflections about what was inspiring about Gene. Listening to stories like these helps to illuminate and carry forward deeper understandings of the living roots of Focusing and its philosophy— which continues to unfold in new ways today.    

Akira Ikemi will then share about the influences of Wilhelm Dilthey’s hermeneutics on Focusing, a method which Gendlin developed. After, Akira Ikemi will lead a Focusing exercise that he created— Crossing with Animals— which helps to teach two concepts of Gene’s philosophy, Experiencing and Crossing.  Participants will then learn to apply the principles of Experiencing and Crossing to art images or expressions. This will also enrich the understanding and practice of Focusing-Oriented Expressive Arts.

About Akira Ikemi:

Akira Ikemi, Ph.D. studied with Professor Eugene Gendlin at the University of Chicago around the time the book Focusing was published. He has taught full time at universities in Japan, and is currently professor at Kansai University Graduate School of Psychology. Akira is a Certifying Coordinator of The International Focusing Institute (TIFI) and has served as a board member of that institute, as well as of other academic organizations, including the World Association for Person Centered and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counseling, and the Japanese Association for Humanistic Psychology. He is one of the founders and past-presidents of the Japan Focusing Association. Dr. Ikemi has written many articles and books in Japanese and in English, and teaches internationally online. He was named a “Living Luminary” by the Journal of Humanistic Counseling (USA) and he is the fifteenth person to receive the prestigious Japanese Association of Humanistic Psychology Award.

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  • Akira's only: $25

  • 2021 Bundle (Akira's plus Shaun McNiff): $40

For scholarship/work study inquiries please contact us.

Registration Deadline:

November 7, 2021


Monday, December 6th, 2021   1:00PM - 2:30PM PST  /  4:00PM - 5:30PM EST  /  Click here for your time zone
For Asia: Tuesday, December 7th, 2021

How Art Heals: Whole Art Expression and Going with the Grain of Nature

Shaun McNiff

Shaun McNiff created the first graduate program in expressive arts in the world, pioneering a vision of “Whole Art Expression”— that “art” includes all forms of the arts— movement, music, drama, writing, etc.  Today, the expressive arts are practiced all over the world— in counseling, psychotherapy, education, health and wellness, research, creativity, and more. 


This is a rare opportunity to listen first-hand to stories, practices and ideas spanning Shaun McNiff’s 50 years of developing and refining his original vision.  The presentation will be interactive— a community feeling— with time for questions and reflections in response to Shaun’s presentation on various topic, such as:

  • How Art heals by infusing persons and communities with creative energy and by transforming difficulties into affirmations of life.

  • The creation in the 1970’s of an innovative expressive arts training program at a prestigious art gallery with patients who were still living in a State psychiatric hospital, some for 25-50 years. 

  • How the most elemental and simple gestures and organic actions access the depths of artistic expression

  • Methods of engagement: such as the movement basis of expression, art as a force of nature as accessible as breath, the significance of simplicity and authenticity in quality expression, creating with objects from nature, and the use of digital media

  • How resistances, inhibitions, and doubts can be channeled into creative and healing expressions

  • How to create environments and communities that support the creative expression of others.

  • And more

About Shaun McNiff:

Shaun McNiff is author of Imagination in Action: Secrets for Unleashing Creative Expression; Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go; Art as Medicine; Art Heals; Depth Psychology of Art; Integrating the Arts in Therapy; and other books. His writings have been widely influential and translated into many languages; he has lectured and taught throughout the world. 

Shaun McNiff is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Journal of Applied Arts and Health for his leadership in advancing art as research, and an Honorary Life Member Award from the American Art Therapy Association. He established the integrated arts in therapy and education graduate training programs at Lesley University from which the field of expressive arts therapy emerged— and in 2002 Lesley appointed him as its first University Professor. His lifework is committed to furthering universal access to artistic expression as a source of individual community well-being and understanding.

Shaun McNiff


  • Shauns's only: $20

  • 2021 Bundle (Shaun's plus Akira Ikemi): $40


For scholarship/work study inquiries please contact us.

Registration Deadline:

  • 2021 Bundle: Nov. 7

  • Shauns's only: Dec. 3

If you have any questions, please contact us.

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