FOT Certification Program


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Thank you for your interest in becoming certified as a Focusing-Oriented therapist. You will find that the skills you learn truly deepen the work with your clients, bringing the body and immediacy into every session. You will also leave the program feeling adept at working safely with trauma in the body.

According to course participant Donna Steadman, “I have taken Leslie’s FOT certification training, and I can say without hesitation that this is the best training I have ever had! I get so much out of every session; I highly recommend her courses.”

Participants are introduced to the basics of focusing, including the various approaches which have developed since Eugene Gendlin first ‘found’ focusing in 1968. Advanced courses cover the safe and effective use of focusing with trauma. We also weave in current practices derived from the latest research in interpersonal neurobiology.

The course is designed to be affordable and practical. Participants are given plenty of hands-on, supervised focusing practice throughout the year so that they leave feeling confident and skilled in this gentle yet powerful, body-oriented therapy technique.

Certification Program Details

The certification has a new seminar format designed for a small, committed group of  8-10 therapists who want to obtain the training and experience required to become a Focusing-Oriented Therapist (FOT) certified with the International Focusing Institute.

Dr. Leslie Ellis will be offering a regular series of one-day workshops (and, when appropriate, will involve other local certifying coordinators to augment this training with their own specialties). FOT candidates must complete a minimum of 16 training days to qualify for certification, in addition to meeting supervision and other requirements as set out below.

Cost is $200 per session, payable at or before each of the 8 sessions, or a one-time $1,500 fee per year (a $100 discount for paying in full in advance).

Schedule for year one: June 10, July 22, Sept. 9, Oct. 14, Nov. 18, 2018; and Jan. 13, Feb. 24, and April 7, 2019.

Second Year Dates

2019: June 9, July 21, Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 24

2020: Jan. 12, Feb. 23 and April 5.

A sampling of the core curriculum:

Introduction to Focusing
You will leave this workshop ready to try using focusing in your therapy practice. The course provides an overview of focusing methods, including Eugene Gendlin’s ‘discovery’ of focusing and a walk through the focusing steps, as well as an overview of how current focusing experts  have adapted these methods in areas such as trauma work, dreamwork, expressive arts, addiction and mindfulness. There will be lots of experiential practice focusing and leading sessions.

Focusing and Trauma I: Safety and Working with Trauma Memory States
This course will cover how the brain reacts to trauma, the nature of trauma memory and how to begin to notice and work with regressed states. Safety techniques, including how to help the client stay within the therapeutic window, will be discussed and practiced.

Focusing and Trauma II: Intergenerational and Vicarious Trauma
This course will review the basics of trauma treatment and then focus on intergenerational trauma. It will provide a deep understanding of how trauma gets passed down through families and the ways this can show up in a focusing session. Participants will learn to listen to the bodies of their clients for things that they may not be saying out loud. They will learn to work with implicit memories, silent states and places of trauma that occurred very early in life. There will also be a discussion of vicarious trauma for therapists, and self-protection and self-care.

Focusing and dreamwork
The combination of dreamwork and focusing is a powerful one for inner work and healing as the two methods are so complementary. The course provides an in-depth look at how Gendlin and others, particularly Jungian and depth psychologists incorporate focusing techniques to enhance the depth and immediacy of dreamwork. Lots of experiential practice — bring your dreams!

Additional requirements for Certification as an FOT

  • Training is over a maximum of 5 years.
  • Acceptance into the program as an FOT-in-training. Participation is subject to approval by the coordinator.
  • Complete the trauma portion of the training (required), and a total of at least 16 training days. (Up to two focusing workshops by other trainers can be considered for credit — provided you write a short paper documenting what you learned.)
  • Complete a focusing log — 50 sessions as a listener or guide and and 30 as a focuser. Focusing partnerships will be arranged.
  • Demonstrate a 20-minute focusing session that shows the candidate’s skill as a focusing leader. This can be done in person or provided on video.
  • 50 hours of supervision of focusing-oriented psychotherapy are required. About half of this will be included in the course work. As well, there will be opportunities to participate in monthly group supervision sessions and/or to book individual supervision sessions.
  • Appropriate membership level in the Focusing Institute. FOT applicants are charged a one-time fee ($375) and then annual dues to maintain their FOT status.
  • Credentials to practice therapy by a recognized certifying body

Requirements for certification as a Focusing Trainer

  • Completion of core curriculum workshops plus one additional course
  • Participate in the workshop on teaching focusing
  • Register as a trainer-in-training with The Focusing Institute.
  • Gain experience as a student trainer in an existing focusing training program.
  • Complete focusing log and supervision hours as required.
  • Successfully teach a focusing workshop

Certification information

  • Completion of the requirements does not automatically lead to certification. The final decision will be up to the coordinator of the program.
  • Active status as a Certified Focusing Professional requires an annual membership fee, attendance at a Focusing event once every third year, and ongoing supervision for at least two years after certification.


What if I have a conflict with one or more of the training dates?

Regarding date conflicts, I am happy to work around them as long as there are not too many. I am planning to certify a small, committed group (8-10 max) so am hoping most people will make all or almost all the sessions, but I know there will be some conflicts.
I am planning to record the lecture part of the sessions, and can also arrange make-up supervision sessions for missed time. Missed workshops will be charged at the regular rate whether you are able to attend or not, but in return, all the relevant material will be made available.