Creative Thinking for Research - Thinking at the Edge Creative Thinking for Research - Thinking at the Edge

This 30-credit module is designed primarily for those who wish to develop their ability to think creatively about their professional work or about their research field. It may be of special interest to those working in the areas of counselling and psychotherapy, but the course is open to those with other professional interests.

The Module is centred around a specific approach to creative thinking, that is, the approach known as ‘Thinking at the Edge', which has been developed out of the same theoretical background as ‘Focusing'. More information about Focusing and about Thinking at the Edge is available on the website of The Focusing Institute.

Aims of the module

The Module objectives are to introduce students to the idea of creative thinking, to provide training in the procedures of ‘Thinking at the Edge' (TAE) sufficient to enable students to use it effectively in their own research or other professional work, and to provide a basic understanding of the theoretical principles informing TAE, and its relationship to other approaches to creativity.

Module structure

The Module will be run in three blocks of two days each (Wednesdays and Thursdays) in the autumn term. Exact dates will be published in the summer.

Module content

Outline of TAE and its origins. The relationship of TAE to Focusing. Finding a project. Working with a partner. Formation of a felt sense. (TAE Step 1) Finding what is ‘more than logical' in the felt sense. (TAE Step 2) The nature of creativity. Cognition and experience Examples from the history of science.

Block two:

The inadequacy of standard formulations to say what needs to be said. (TAE Step 3) Finding phrases and sentences that can be used in novel ways to express the felt sense (TAE Step 4) Expanding the material from Steps 3 and 4 to articulate the felt sense further. (TAE Step 5) Collecting facets (examples) (TAE Step 6) Allowing the facets to contribute detailed structure (TAE Step 7) The concept of ‘crossing' Crossing the facets (TAE Step 8) Writing freely from the previous Steps (TAE Step 9) A brief look at the psychology of creativity.

Block three:

Building theory: The nature of theories. Creating theories. Inherent relations. This block will be loosely connected with TAE steps 10-14 but we will not be following the details of the standard TAE steps.

Learning approaches

Teaching methods during the Module will include

  • lectures and seminars
  • practice workshops
  • large and small group work
  • reading and discussion of relevant papers


Assessment will involve one 2000-word theoretical essay, and a 3000-word written-up account of the student's own TAE work on a project of their own choice.

Award of 30 credits

The award will be made following a meeting of a Board of Examiners consisting of internal examiners and at least one external examiner. The meeting will normally be held in October.

The Board will make its recommendations after consideration of:

a) Evidence that the candidate has completed the course, Completion will be deemed to include:
Regular attendance
Submission of the two assignments

b) Tutors' formal assessment of the two assignments

c) An oral examination where the Board wishes to hold one.

The Board may require that further objectives be met, and the applicant's work will then be re-assessed in the light of whether the further work has been satisfactorily completed. Re-assessment must be completed within one year of the end of the course.

External examiner

An External Examiner to the Course will be appointed who holds a senior position in the field of education.


Applicants will normally be expected to be graduates but those with other professional qualifications or who can demonstrate appropriate academic skills will be considered. Selection will take place on the basis of a completed application form, two references, and in some cases an interview.

Preparatory work for the course

Participants who are not familiar with Focusing should ensure that they are familiar with the basic principles of the procedure as can be found in the first two books detailed below, and should have given some time to the practice of Focusing before the beginning of the course. Although Thinking at the Edge is not a therapeutic procedure, it involves an approach to one's own experiencing that is very similar to that found in focusing-oriented counselling. A list of Focusing teachers in the UK can be found on the website of the British Focusing Teachers Association (BFTA), and on the New York Focusing Institute website.

Gendlin, Eugene Focusing (Rider, 2003)
  Purton, Campbell The Focusing-Oriented Counselling Primer (PCCS Books, 2007)

Further sources which will be used during the course are:

Focusing Institute (2004) The Folio: A Journal for Focusing and Experiential Therapy. Special number on ‘Thinking at the edge'. New York: Focusing Institute.

Lou, Nada Thinking at the Edge: Grassroots Introduction to TAE. Focusing in Focus.

Claxton, Guy (2006) Thinking at the edge: developing soft creativity. Cambridge Journal of Education Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 351-362.

Hendricks, Mary (2001) An experiential version of unconditional positive regard'. In J D Bozarth & P Wilkins (eds) Rogers' Therapeutic Conditions: Evolution. Theory, Practice: Unconditional Positive Regard. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books. (This article makes explicit use of TAE in developing its theme).

Mahrer, Alvin (2006) The Creation of New Ideas in Psychotherapy: A Guidebook. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books.


The core tutor is Martin Langsdon. Martin is a Lecturer  in the School of Education and Lifelong Learning. He has been a school teacher and advisory teacher in Norfolk Schools and a therapist and supervisor in private practice. He is Course Leader for the Postgraduate Certificate in Focusing-oriented Psychotherapy, Postgraduate Certificate in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Skills. Martin is a Certifying Co-ordinator for the Focusing Institute.

How to apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University. You can apply online.

Applications are invited from 1st November for the Course commencing the following September. There is no closing date but early application is recommended