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Archives » CCAV Yarra Valley Discussion Group

--> Meeting dates and reports 2005

Starting time 7-30pm

Address upon inquiry through email

08/03/05 Jan Dowling: ‘Refocussing’
10/05/05 Maureen Ireland: ‘Focusing’
12/07/05 Video and group discussion on Solution Focused Therapy
13/09/05 Helene Richardson: ‘Dissociation’
08/11/05 ‘TBA’

Graeme Dawson
Manager- Valley Care
0409 517273

Helene Richardson, who spoke on Dissociation at our September meeting

Click here to open a document about Dissociation.

On behalf of organizer Marlene Day, we forward notification about the upcoming seminar 'Understanding Dissociative Disorders' with international presenter Dr Marlene Hunter, MD, FCFP, Canada with Dr John Ouw, psychiatrist, Melbourne, Australia on Friday 30 September and Saturday 1 October 2005 in Rowville, Victoria.
Please contact the organizer Mrs Marlene Day at m_day2003@yahoo.com.au or phone (03) 9726 0907 (9.00am - 12noon) for further details. The program is arranged by the non-profit Christian Counsellors Association of Victoria.
PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT The Delphi Centre about this seminar as we are not organizing it and cannot answer your enquiries.


Based on a Video viewed at the July Discussion night entitled
'The Angry Couple' 
by Dr Susan Heitler

At our recent Yarra valley CCAV meeting, on Tuesday 12.7.05 at Woori Yallock, we saw a video explaining Conflict Focused Therapy. This therapy aims for symptom reduction, conflict resolution and skill building in relationships. Couples are initially asked to list issues which have led to tension in their relationships and these issues are dealt with one by one. 

Typical Scenario
Many couples have a pattern in their relationship of one partner becoming angry and aggressive because they perceive their needs are not being met by their partner. The other spouse will not be listening and in turn becomes angry expressing this anger in withdrawing from the openly aggressive spouse. This withdrawal then triggers more aggression from the first spouse. Each tends to see the problem as being within the other rather than in themselves. Couples need to learn that anger expressed inappropriately does not solve the problem and need to learn better ways of relating to each other.

Rules of Listening
Couples are asked to focus on their own needs rather than their partner's failings. They need to express their needs without interruption and also to express them politely and gently. They are discouraged from using the word 'but' because this word can be used to defend inappropriate behaviour. One spouse may be encouraged to say gently just one sentence, which captures the essence of what they want their partner to hear. The other partner is asked to repeat back what they have heard. Each partner needs to be given equal time to express their needs and feelings. 
The therapist needs to be diligent in making sure these rules are kept, indicating both verbally and with a gesture of the hand when an interruption takes place. 

Effective Communication
After one partner has gently communicated a need or feeling, the other spouse may be asked, 'What did you hear?' and they will repeat back what they have heard. The first spouse may be asked, 'How do you feel now?' & may reply that they feel heard. The couple needs to know that this method is more effective than the aggressive accusatory approach which tends to lead to the partner being given the information withdrawing and failing to listen. 
The partners also need to be specific about what they require. If someone says, 'I want this to work out', they may need to explain what 'working out' would mean for them. This could mean a calm environment without aggressive behaviour. 
The sessions are taped. This gives the couple the opportunity to listen to the tape at home and for the ideas of the session to be reinforced. 

Some partners have only one major issue, whereas others have multiple issues. The technique needs to be used with each issue in turn. At the beginning of each session, the couple is asked which issue they would like to focus on during that session. For example, the wife in the video expressed a feeling of being left out of her husband's study. She wanted another chair to be put into the room so that she would feel more welcome going into it. The husband was able to listen to her feeling and requirement and was happy for a chair could be placed in the study for her to use. However, he also expressed his own need to be in the room on his own sometimes. Each was able to accept the other's needs. It was important, for example, for the wife to know that recognising her husband needed time for himself did not mean that he did not love her. A mutually agreeable solution needed to be reached. 

Individual Sessions
Both husband and wife had occasional individual sessions. It is best if these are symmetrical - ie an equal number for each partner. 

The Husband's Session
In an individual session, the husband described how his brother had visited their home and allowed his young child to misbehave. 
He was asked to close his eyes and try to think of another time when he felt as he had during this visit. He recalled a similar feeling when his father would shout and his mother would retreat. The feelings were of anger and helplessness. This technique enabled him to recognise patterns of behaviour/anger in his family of origin. He realised that the more his father shouted, the more helpless he felt. With his brother, a similar process took place. He became the small boy again because he did not do anything about the situation. He realised that when his wife was being aggressive, he did not have to retreat helplessly but could say or do something appropriate. He did not need to take on his mother's way of responding forever. 

The Wife's Session
The wife came to realise that in her large family of origin, she needed to shout to get attention. She also identified feelings of abandonment when left behind by her husband when skiing. She identified these feelings with the strong feeling she had experienced when her father died. Knowing how she felt, enabled both husband and wife to respond in the best way in that situation. She recognised for example, that there were more effective ways that shouting to get her husband's attention, and knowing her need helped him to respond more sensitively to her. 

Using this therapy, the spouses were able to express their underlying concerns and reach mutually agreeable solutions. They needed to be specific about their needs and feelings and to express their wishes in short understandable chunks. They needed to obey rules of listening and in order for this to happen, the counsellor needed to be firm and directive when necessary. 

Helen McAlley







Person-Centred Therapy – Carl Rogers
Focussing is a therapy which arises out of the person-centred therapy of Carl Rogers.  Rogers valued particular qualities within the therapist including congruence (genuineness), unconditional positive regard and accurate empathy.  He also focussed strongly on listening to the client & reflecting back what the client had said.  He believed the clients have their own answers to their problems within themselves.

Gene Gendlin
Gendlin was a student and later a peer of Rogers.  He recognised that some clients did better than others in therapy and that those who did better were more able than others to listen to their own inner voice.  They had a way of checking within themselves and not moving on until they got it right. Rogers had emphasised listening to the content. Gendlin added a further dimension of both therapist and client listening to their own responses to what is being said.  Some people are able to do this intuitively, whereas others have to learn this process.  

A Gentle Whisper
Christians are familiar with the ‘still small voice’ of God (1 Kg 20:12 AV) which gave Elijah direction when he was depressed.  It can also be described as ‘a gentle whisper’ (NIV).  Client and counsellor are looking for a meaning beyond words.   This meaning is carried in the body as the phrase ‘gut reaction’ suggests.  Freud’s unconscious could be described as the body.  We are thinking here of intuition, hunches, meanings, ‘surenesses’, etc.  It is like going below the water level of an iceberg to see what is underneath the known feelings, cognitions and behaviours.  

Our Bodies ‘Know Things’
The deep hunch or gut feeling is like waking up from a dream, knowing one has dreamt but not being sure of the details.  It could be like having ‘butterflies in the stomach’ and then exploring that further.  The person needs to feel safe in exploring further. They need gentleness.  It may not be a long, drawn out process.  What is important is the attitude of openness and patience. 

The client may be asked, ‘What wants your attention now?’  It could be described as allowing the left (or analytical) side of the brain access to what the body already knows. Sometimes images or word pictures may be helpful (for example a tightrope walker).   If the images do not fit the experience the person will know.  

Suitable for Everyone?
Not everyone will respond well to this therapy.  It is important to pick your client.  If the client is experiencing trauma as the process unfolds, it is important for that client to find a safe place within to retreat to.


TUESDAY 08/03/05 


This therapy was developed by Dianne Divett in New Zealand and it was the subject of Dianne's Ph D thesis. With her husband Hamish, Dianne is pastor of the Christian City Church in Auckland, New Zealand. Dianne and Hamish have been involved in the charismatic renewal for nearly 30 years and this renewal has had an influence on the therapy. 


Jan has personally found the therapy helpful and uses it in her counselling at the Box Hill City Church. Like Dianne, she has been in fulltime ministry with her husband and also has a nursing background. 


1. God is triune, and also knowable and accessible to those who call on Him. 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know' Jer 33:3. (NIV). 
2. God is love. 


1. People can be facilitated to refocus on God. 'My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?' Psalm 42:2.
2. Once people are taught the refocussing methodology, they can be empowered to locate, develop and access their own 'God space', rather than relying on others. 


There is nothing mystical about the term 'God space'. It simply describes a methodology which allows connection with God - to:
a. Locate (find) God
b. Access (experience) Him and 
c. Develop the relationship.

The focus on God is central. This focus gives the client a safe place from which to explore and face difficult issues. The client goes, as it were, from the God space to the issues and then back to the God space, as in a Gestalt drawing when the figure becomes the background and then the same form reverts to being the figure or centre of attention again. When the counsellor perceives the client is struggling, it may be appropriate to ask, 'Are you OK? Do you need to go back to your safe place?'

The client may draw a God picture or take a few seconds to think about one of God's characteristics or names, for example:
Jehovah Jireh - my provider
Jehovah Shammah - God is there
Jehovah Nissi - God is my banner
Jehovah Shalom - God's peace, wholeness and harmony. 

The client may be asked, 'Where is God in relation to you now' (spatially) and may think, for instance, of Jesus behind them supporting and comforting. 


'Clean language' (David Grove) uses people's own language, metaphors, symbols, and actions in a disciplined and reflective process. Focusing or clean language questions enable the client to produce their own answer without the counsellor impressing their analysis, knowledge or image of God on to the client. The questions draw out of people what they already know. 'The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out' (Prov. 20:5). 


1. The focus on God is central. There are 6 other foci. 
2. The cognitive (the need. Genograms and other aids may be helpful here). 
3. The affective (the client's 'child within', feelings).
4. The visual (must be used in conjunction with the God space to ensure safety). 
5. The body. (There may be somatic storage of information, for example, a pain in 
the neck).
6. Evil, for example, dealing with generational sin. 
7. Drawing, writing. 


Through the God connection and self-awareness, clients are assisted to shift their focus so that they can see the positive changes in their lives rather than focussing only on unhealthy, perpetuating patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. 

Helen McAlley 

R E F O C U S S I N G    T H E R A P Y 

        1) To give short history of the development of Refocussing Therapy (RFT) and its creator.
        2) To provide a very brief overview of the crucial components of Refocussing Therapy (RFT).
        3) To provide a practical experience of RFT.

Refocussing is a wholistic approach that uses both a God connection and self- awareness to assist people to shift focus and see positive change happen in their lives.

Refocussing has been so called because it encapsulated what the theory is about, namely that which people focus on.

People are encouraged to 'look at' what they focus on that may be an unhealthy perpetuating patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviour.

Their refocus is spiritual as they are encouraged to access, locate and develop their own 'knowings' of God, in their own God Spaces. 

About the creator of Refocussing Therapy and its history. 

Dr.Diane Divett from Auckland, New Zealand is the creator of RFT.
M.Ed Counselling (1st Honours); Dip.Ed; DipTchg; MNZCA: MNZCCA. She currently also pastors Christian City Church Auckland alongside her husband, Hamish.

Diane Divett has been involved in the charismatic renewal for close to thirty years. 

Concurrent with much research and consideration regarding the negative aspects, Divett has also considered many positive Charismatic Christian experiences which have lead to the development of Refocussing Therapy.

From a theological perspective several fundamentals of the theory stated simply include:

1.     God is triune and as the creator of persons is knowable and accessible to all who call on Him . 
Jeremiah 33:3 says 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know'.

2.     God is love and by interaction with His attributes people can empower to live holistic lives when they learn to refocus on Him.

There are also presuppositions of RFT including the following:

        1.     People can be facilitated to refocus on God who is purported to be the drink for their thirsts...first being the spiritual dimension. 
Ps.42:2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

        2.     Once people are taught this methodology, they can be empowered to locate, develop and access their own God spaces as required. 

Clean Language

Within RFT seven foci are utilised by means of a process called clean language.

Clean language has been adapted from the work of New Zealand therapist, David Grove. This approach uses peoples' language, metaphors, symbols and actions in a very disciplined and reflective process. It differs from many other reflective type approaches as it uses only the client's symbols, actions etc. and 'their language' is 
reflected in response to clean questions. 

For a RFT therapist the questions are called 'focussing' questions.

Obviously, there is no such thing as 'being value free' and by asking a question we are guiding the direction of an answer. With clean language questions we enable the client to produce their own answer without the counsellor impressing their analysis, knowings or image of God onto the client.

This process supports the view from scripture that highlights the importance of drawing out of people what they know.

Counsel in the heart of a man is
Like deep water, 
But a man of understanding will draw it out. (Proverbs 20:5)

As a man thinks in his heart, so
Is he (Proverbs 23:7)

It is the utilisation of clean language to incorporate the seven foci which empowers the client and the counsellor to move skilfully from focus and refocus on the 'thirst' (need) and the 'drink' (resource) accordingly.

Focus One: The God focus:
The RF therapist must be skilled at the using the God Focus and be able to help people find their own unique God Spaces -both inside and outside. 

Focus Two: The Cognitive focus:
This focus is used when helping a client find their thirsts (need); use of genograms for example.

Focus Three: The Affective (Child Within) Focus:
The affective modality examines feeling. (It is important for the counsellor to be aware of what is happening for the client and also themselves.)

Focus Four: The Visual focus:
Questions used to access visual spaces.

Divett indicates the visual spaces are likened to 'opening up computer files'.

The most powerful foci and MUST be used with the God Space to ensure safety.

Focus Five: The Physiological or Body Focus
The body focus: somatic storage of information eg 'a pain in the neck'.

Focus Six: The Evil Focus
Dealing with evil

Focus Seven: The Symbolic Focus including Drawing
Representing on paper, through drama, journaling...what is happening for them and where God is for them.

The God Focus:

1. This focus is pivotal and a unique component of Refocussing Therapy.

2. Clean language orientating questions are used to in this three part process in assisting people develop their own 'God Spaces
    a. To locate (find)
    b. To access (experience)
    c. To develop (describe)

3. Once developed these God spaces help people allow God to provide the resources they need, thereby providing 'drink' for their 'thirst.' John 7:37b says "If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink.'

4. There is nothing mystical about the term "God spaces' but merely a name of a methodology to assist people to connect with God. 

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Focal Point Yarra Valley 2009