"When my Focusing client was quiet for a long time, I thought she wanted to end the session."
How do you accompany silence? I had a client who was very much into her inner experience and expressing what was happening for her, but then she was very quiet for a fairly long time, with no talking. I wasn't sure if she wanted to end the session. So I told her she can end the session any time she would like or she can stay and explore more.
Unfortunately, she felt that I wanted her to end it and so she returned to the room :(
Or maybe you were right that she wanted to end the session! We can get very strong intuitions when we are accompanying someone... maybe you were right after all.
However, I'd be glad to offer you some other options for what to do when a Focusing client is silent for a long time. In my experience that usually doesn't mean they are ready to stop, but that they may be in a deep process or in need of some more contact from you.
The big unknown when someone is silent is whether they are in touch with a process or whether they have lost touch and have gone into something else like daydreaming. If they are in touch with a process that is valuable for them, I don't want to interrupt. But if they have floated away, I'd like to make connection again and see if they'd like my help to reconnect.
In the last few years I came up with a perfect solution for this dilemma. It's to state what I hope they are doing as a kind of "murmur." Like this:
Me: "You might take some time to just be with that sad place in your heart."
Me: (quietly) "And you're being with it... just as it is..."
If the person is being with it productively, what I said will not interrupt or disturb them but will validate and support them. But if they have gotten disconnected from the process, this brings them back.
Focuser: "Oh, what was I supposed to be doing? I spaced out."
Let's not leave people all alone in their silences.
Contact in Focusing is a kind of spacious warmth. We allow whatever wants to come, and we stay with it. This is true both in the inner world and in the interpersonal space between you and the person you are supporting.
Gene Gendlin calls this "holding and letting." We are both holding a contact and we are letting anything come, in that contact.
If the Focuser is silent for a long time, you may feel yourself losing contact with them. You may be tempted to ask a question ... "What is happening?" That will surely pull them into contact with you! But it may lose their inner contact.
I like what happens when I stay connected with people by "murmuring" what I hope they are doing. This allows the container that we make together to be both strong and spacious.