Working with Couples using Emotion-Focused Interventions

Working with Couples using Emotion-Focused Interventions

Trainer:   Mrs. Catherine Poon


Working with couples is becoming an important domain in social work practice in different settings other than family service.  Couples therapy (marital counseling) has grown out from traditional family therapy into an independent discipline of mental health intervention over the past three decades.  A new paradigm shift occurs in the treatment of couple distress with the exponential growth in research on emotion, attachment, and neuroscience.  The intertwinement of emotional and relational processes becomes central in intimate relationships.  Emotion-focused couples therapy (EFT-C) has outgrown other approaches in the treatment of couple distress as an evidence-based approach.  It is an integration of experiential-humanistic approach and systemic approach in couples therapy.  It is grounded in the person-centered relational attitudes and integrates contemporary emotion theory, interaction and communication theory with the methods of enactment in structural approach and Gestalt therapy.  EFT-C proposes that it is emotion that fuels couples conflict and accessing to alternate emotion is the ultimate antidote to those conflicts.  Enduring self change and couple change are achieved through emotion transformation and restructuring of new couple interaction.


This workshop aims at:

  • Equipping a preliminary grounding of the theoretical foundations of emotion-focused couples therapy

  • Enhancing the ability to cultivate and to balance effective therapeutic relationship and alliance with couples

  • Providing an understanding of different emotions arising in couples therapy setting

  • Introducing different therapeutic tasks in working with emotions in couple relationship

  • Enhancing the interest, confidence and skills in working with emotions in couple relationship

Course Outline:

  • Attachment theory and EFT-C

  • Emotion theory and EFT-C

  • Overview of the five stages of EFT-C

  • Stage 1 Validation and balancing therapeutic relationship

  • Stage 2 Identifying couple’s emotion interaction

  • Stage 3 Accessing underlying emotions in couple interaction

  • Stage 4 Emotion healing in couple relationship

  • Stage 5 Consolidating new interactions and enrichment


Training Format:

  • Didactic presentations

  • Couple cases presentations

  • Experiential exercises

  • Simulated practice of couple sessions

Language:   Cantonese supplemented with English

About the trainer

Mrs. Catherine Poon

B.A., M.S.W., M.BuddhStud.            

Personal and Marriage Counselor
Registered Social Worker            

Certified Counselor (HKPCA)
Associate Fellow (HKPCA)             

Approved Supervisor (HKPCA) 
Certified EFT Trainer (Individual Therapy) recognized by the 
International Society for Emotion Focused Therapy (isEFT)


Mrs. Catherine Poon has worked with the Hong Kong Catholic Marriage Advisory Council (HKCMAC) for over 20 years as a marriage counselor.  She specializes her clinical work with clients of emotional dysregulation, depression, anxiety, and childhood attachment trauma, and couples with chronic physical/mental illnesses, addictive behavioral problems and extra-marital relationship.  Apart from clinical practice of individual and couple counselling, she has supervised social work students at different universities and family mediator trainees from different social service agencies.  She maintains a humanistic person-centered approach in her clinical practice and supervision.

Mrs. Catherine Poon has been trained in Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) with Professor Leslie Greenberg since 2004. She has given presentations, provided skills coaching in the Module Workshops, and conducted monthly supervision groups in the yearly Training Programs in EFT (Individual & Couples) jointly organized by the EFT Clinic of York University and HKCMAC from 2007 to 2017.  Over the years, she has led hundreds of supervision group sessions.  She is recognized as a certified EFT individual trainer since 2016. 

She is currently in private practice.  She continues to provide individual and couples therapy, training workshops on EFT (Individual and Couples), Advanced Empathy and Mindfulness-informed clinical work, and EFT supervision for local practitioners.  She is an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Hong Kong since 2015, teaching Emotion-Focused Interventions and Marital Counseling for Master degree students of counseling and social work.