Jenna Chevalier 

OCT, RYT 200, BFA, MsEdu, MC (in progress)
Focusing-Oriented Therapist in training
Focusing Professional

As a child, my favorite reward for good behaviour, or a job well done, was a bit unconventional. If I was agreeable and tame my father would, with my insistence, split open his spent tea bag and allow me a view into the soggy, pulpy, inner workings of this mysterious contraptions. I wanted to know so many things.

How did the hot water when combined with the bag make tea; why did the water have to be hot; how did the tea get out of the bag and into the cup?

The things that most interest me now that I’ve learned a bit about botany, diffusion, and the boiling point of water, are how people work. Focusing has been a way for me peer into the inner workings of the human contraption. 

Work and projects that feed my curiosity and lead to discoveries of how things work continue to fascinate me. As a visual artist, my work explores memory storage and retrieval. My current painting works are portraits and still life where thought and reflection on my subjects allow me space and time to explore my connection to them. As a Visual Arts teacher at the secondary level, I found facilitating art making as an expressive personal process was much like splitting open a tea bag exposing all of my students’ damp, oozy, squishy contents. I realized here that while expressive art therapies were personally important to my process they could also be used to help other people understand themselves. From Art teacher I moved into Special & Alternative Education roles where I spent a lot of time looking for patterns in behaviour, school records, and performance, picking out students who were struggling academically, socially and emotionally, and designing interventions for them. I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out why students sometimes had difficulty learning, showing up, or staying awake. This role had me reading the tea leaves again and lead me deeper to my current academic work in Counselling Psychology. 

I came to Focusing in 2013 when I was negotiating the onset of a chronic illness. As a Focusing beginner, I learned to listen to my instincts and intuition and trust what my body had to say. As I got deeper into a regular practice I found Focusing and meditation to be the most powerful tools I had for pain management and fostering resilience. As I got deeper still I found Focusing helped me understand and be with my feelings about being in pain and becoming disabled. I’ve had a  Focusing realization that has been much like the insight that expressive art therapies could help my students; I’m now certified as a  Focusing Trainer and working towards certification as a Focusing Oriented Therapist. My current academic thesis project involves Focusing-Oriented Therapy with people living with disability and chronic illness through distance education tools.