Friday April 21, 2017 at 9:00 AM EDT
Friday April 27, 2018 at 5:00 PM EDT

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The Positive Mind Center 
119 West 57th Street
Suite 1100
New York City, NY 10019

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Asata N'gonzi 
Focusing Initiatives International 



Lead Instructors:

Shirley Turcotte with DaRa Williams and Isabel Adon.


Aboriginal Focusing Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma: Year-long Certification Course

Taught from an Aboriginal-Indigenous perspective this advanced 21 day, seven module program uses Aboriginal Focusing-Oriented Therapy (AFOT) as a safe, compassionate, and effective method of working with clients who have experienced complex trauma.

The AFOT Program emphasizes experience, knowledge, application and practice through classroom instruction and clinical practice. A variety of treatment modalities are woven throughout the modules, including experiential exercises, story-telling, ceremonial processes and land-based healing techniques.

What is Aboriginal Focusing-Oriented Therapy (AFOT)?

The teaching and practice of Aboriginal Focusing-Oriented Therapy in Complex Trauma is gaining interest in the U.S. and Canada. There are an increasing number of therapists and practitioners utilizing AFOT worldwide. Focusing International is pleased to offer this seven module training program for participants to learn and experience this compassionate, inspiring and effective approach for working with complex trauma and PTSD.

The practice of psychotherapy is undergoing changes resulting from current research in neuroscience which underscores the importance of attachment, emotion, the body, and relationship in the healing process. Focusing-Oriented Therapy (FOT) offers well-developed techniques and understanding to enable therapists and practitioners to access body-oriented, internal processes that researchers are finding key to neural integration and change.

FOT is a body-centered and person-centered approach to healing that was developed three decades ago at the University of Chicago by Dr. Eugene Gendlin. It is a practice that is grounded in a philosophical paradigm Gendlin developed. This process enables therapists and practitioners to guide clients to sense into their bodies and into current-moment experiences to bring about what Focusing founder Gendlin calls 'life-forward' motion. FOT allows the client to be an active participant in their healing and empowers them to determine the pace, direction, and intensity of their journey to health. 

Building on this approach, AFOT was developed by Shirley Turcotte over the last 25 years in Canada by integrating an Aboriginal based, anti-oppressive, and culturally diverse worldview understanding. This current-day approach and practice of trauma treatment is inclusive of cultural, ethnic and spiritual awareness. It reaches beyond common assumptions that we are all the same regardless of our cultural ancestry and experiences. It connects with the unique diversity of histories and experiences of human beings as well as international oppression. It expands the current concepts and understanding of complex trauma.

AFOT can be particularly effective in the treatment and healing of complex trauma precipitated by accidents, natural and human-caused disasters, loss, sexual, physical, emotional abuse and/or neglect, institutional abuse, and inter-generational trauma and oppression. AFOT teaches specialized skills for working with “speechless trauma” that has become “stuck” at earlier developmental stages and that interferes with functioning satisfactorily in one's present life. These skills facilitate the release of body-held trauma and the integration/metabolization of the experience of mind/body once the release has completed so that life can move forward toward healing and a greater sense of well-being.

Who Should Attend our AFOT Program?

This program will benefit those who are interested in developing advanced clinical treatment techniques and strategies essential to the healing of traumatic life situations. AFOT is particularly helpful to those who work with residential school survivors, addictions, and survivors of sexual, physical and emotional abuse of all ages. The program especially benefits counselors and therapists who work in various cross-cultural situations/settings/communities and people who work in social justice and community service programs. 

This seven module program invites psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, counselors, other practitioners, and students in the mental health professions who want to bring a body-based, experiential focus to their agency or practice. 

This workshop also may be of interest to acupuncturists, nurse practitioners, massage therapists and other body practitioners who are interested in increasing their familiarity and knowledge base about trauma and the mind/body connection. 

Clinical Practice and Supervision

This component of the AFOT program provides participants with clinical skills and feedback about their level of practice throughout the program. Participants will practice new skills learned on the third day of each module. 


In the observation component, which is ongoing throughout the program, participants will gain experience in how to offer feedback from the client perspective to peers in a professional and constructive manner. As well, participants will experience and effectively observe and reflect on the therapeutic process and will debrief in clinical supervision sessions.

Course Description

Class times are 9 am to 4:30 pm, and will be held in NYC. 

Module 1- Complex Trauma  April 21-23, 2017

You will learn about the impact and assessment of complex trauma within self, family, communities and global systems. FOT will be introduced, including how to prepare a safe ground for unraveling trauma, vicarious trauma and intergenerational trauma. A variety of treatment possibilities are woven throughout the seven modules via experiential exercises.

Module 2- Focusing-Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma June 9 - 11, 2017

You will consider neurological research and its implications in the treatment of complex trauma. You will learn about the resilience of our brains and bodies to hold and release trauma and  how to approach trauma experiences from a post-traumatic growth perspective.

Module 3- Intermediate Focusing-Oriented Therapy August 18-20, 2017

You will learn how to work more deeply with regression, dissociation and ego states; how to ground clients from psychotic breaks and/or out of control emotions; and self-injury from Aboriginal-Indigenous perspectives and deepen your skills in FOT.

Module 4- Advanced Focusing-Oriented Therapy    October 13-15, 2017

You will learn to identify and practice helping clients move through memory, intergenerational, and vicarious flashbacks and abreactions. You will explore how unresolved current and historical traumas play out in relationships while continuing to practice an deepen your skills.

Module 5- Depression and Complex Trauma  December 8-10, 2017

You will learn to assess various aspects and complexities of depression and personality disorders to determine treatment approaches Suffering, grieving and grief rituals are explores as you continue to practice and deepen your skills in FOT.

Module 6- Dreams and Complex Trauma February 23-25, 2018

You will develop skills to connect with dreams and nightmares to help unravel complex trauma, intergenerational trauma and vicarious trauma. This course will also synthesize FOT theory and skills developed throughout the program.

Module 7- Clinical Spirituality and Complex Trauma April 2018 (specific dates to be announced)

This module introduces you to spiritual healing techniques and spiritual boundaries for working with complex, intergenerational and vicarious trauma. Suffering, grieving and grief rituals are explored as a progressive forward movement.  


How to Apply

We suggest registering early as the number of seats is limited.

Please email a letter of intent and your resumé to the Program Coordinator, Asata N'gonzi asata@focusinginternational.org 

Total cost to complete this advanced 21-day, seven-module program is $4,420, which include all fees, all training materials, and the Certificate of Completion from the Justice Institute of British Columbia.  A minimum $300 deposit is needed to hold your space in the program. Please contact Asata to arrange balance of payment.

Program Fees and Scholarships

Our philosophy is that we do not want to turn anyone away because of lack of resources to pay the tuition.  At the same time, we need everyone to pay what they are able to pay to fully support the program.  Payments arrangements can be discussed.

A limited number of scholarships are available on a first come basis by application. Priority will be given to applicants who work with communities where there has been historic oppression, to frontline workers who work in under resourced communities, and to applicants in financial need. 

An administrative fee of $150 will be charged for cancellation by February 1. 2017  On and after March1, 2017, all fees are nonrefundable except in medical emergency.