Jan Winhall M.S.W.
Jan Winhall M.S.W. R.S.W. F.O.T. is a Registered Clinical Social Worker and Coordinator with the Focusing Institute in New York City. She is a member of the International Focusing Oriented Psychotherapy Association and Director of Focusing On Borden, a training center where she teaches Focusing and supervises therapists. She is also an Adjunct Lecturer with the University of Toronto Master of Social Work program.
Jan has worked in the area of trauma and addiction for over 30 years. Early on she was drawn to Gene Gendlin’s work called Focusing, a contemplative practice that facilitates a state of integration between mind, emotion and body awareness. This embodied state gives fresh direction in dealing with life problems and wounded places. It can be taught in 6 steps and is practiced in partnerships. Focusing Oriented Therapy provides a profound relational context offering healing experiences.
Jan has written a chapter, ‘Understanding and Treating Addiction with the Felt Sense Experience Model’ (Greg Madison Editor, Emerging Practice in Focusing Oriented Psychotherapy, Innovative Theory and Applications (178-193). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Her Felt Sense Experience Model offers a departure from the traditional pathologizing framework in treating trauma and addiction, emphasizing the power of Focusing as a tool for attaining emotional regulation.
I want to start with the most important thing I have to say: The essence of working with another person is to be present as a living being. And that is lucky, because if we had to be smart, or good, or mature, or wise, then we would probably be in trouble. But, what matters is not that. What matters is to be a human being with another human being, to recognize the other person as another being in there. Even if it is a cat or a bird, if you are trying to help a wounded bird, the first thing you have to know is that there is somebody in there, and that you have to wait for that “person,” that being in there, to be in contact with you. That seems to me to be the most important thing.
What Led to the Specialization of Trauma?
Jan shares the story of how she met a particular therapist who not only helped her heal from her own traumatic experience, but who also changed her way of looking at healing.
A Crucial Early Mistake
It has to do with being overly accommodating. In my early years, I wasn’t able to create boundaries. I just couldn’t say no…it was too much not being able to say I can’t do this.
It’s absolutely amazing to watch people heal and grow and find a connection with themselves and to then make those connections with the people they love and care about.
- Make sure that you do your own work! In our work, as therapists, the only thing we have is ourselves.
- Make sure that you have really good, solid support and supervision.
Jan’s Go-To Books
- Mindfulness-Oriented Interventions for Trauma: Integrating Contemplative Practices, by Victoria M. Follette PhD, John Briere PhD, Deborah Rozelle PsyD, James W. Hopper PhD, David I. Rome
- Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, Judith Herman
- Emerging Practice in Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy: Innovative Theory and Applications, Greg Madison