Therapeutic Presence and Self-Compassion – Nov 2023 – Online

Therapeutic Presence and Self-Compassion for Effective Therapeutic Relationships

Therapeutic presence (TP) and self-compassion (SC) are essential factors in effective therapeutic and clinical relationships. Therapeutic presence is a way of being that optimises the doing and techniques of therapy and is backed by two decades of research on the art and science of presence. TP provides clients with a sense of safety, allowing them to be seen, heard, understood, and “feel felt,” while also strengthening the therapeutic alliance. TP invites therapists to work on their own balance of presence and compassion with self and clients, ensuring they remain centered and effective even in the face of difficult emotions. This type of relationship helps regulate clients’ emotions and supports their movement towards emotional health and neurophysiological integration. Practicing TP also sustains clinicians’ vitality, connection, and effectiveness. Self-compassion is also a key resource for clinicians, allowing them to be fully present and attuned to their clients’ needs. Research shows that SC is strongly associated with emotional well-being, healthy habits, and more fulfilling relationships. Together, therapeutic presence and self-compassion are powerful resources for counsellors to maintain emotional balance in the midst of challenging clinical work, to enjoy their work and their clients more fully, and to prevent caregiver fatigue and burn-out.


In this two-part masterclass, we will explore an empirically validated model of TP and how to create safety using neurophysiological principles based on concepts such as co-regulation and neuroception of safety stemming from Polyvagal Theory (Geller & Porges, 2014). We will incorporate evidenced based practices from Dr. Geller’s books, ‘A Practical Guide for Cultivating Therapeutic Presence’ and ‘Therapeutic Presence: A Mindful Approach to Effective Therapeutic Relationships (co-authored with Leslie Greenberg), including mindfulness, self-compassion, and experiential/creative practices. There will be a number of take-home techniques offered for cultivating presence during therapy and life for clinicians, students, and clients.


In this training you will:

  • Explore an empirically validated model of therapeutic presence along with key skills for cultivating presence
  • Discover the neurophysiological mechanisms of therapeutic presence
  • Practice presence and self-compassion techniques for clinical settings and in life to sustain emotional connection with clients and working through therapeutic ruptures
  • Learn practices and skills for attuning in the moment with clients
  • Apply presence and self-compassion skills for self-care and to prevent and alleviate burnout
  • Receive take home practices for clients, students, trainees and for yourself

Online, Via zoom

Nov 9 & 10 Toronto time)

9:30am-1:00pm Melbourne AEST (5:30 – 9:00 pm Toronto EST)

Dr. Shari Geller, Ph.D., C. Psych

Shari is an author, clinical psychologist, certified Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) teacher and leader in the field of therapeutic presence. Among numerous appointments, Shari is the co-director of the Centre for MindBody Health, where she offers training, supervision and therapy in Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) and Mindfulness and Self-Compassion. Shari co-authored the book Therapeutic Presence: A Mindful Approach to Effective Therapy (2012) with Dr Leslie S. Greenberg, and more recently, A Practical Guide For Cultivating Therapeutic Presence (2017).

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