The Essentials of Emotion-Focused Interventions: Therapeutic Presence and Empathic Attunement

The Essentials of Emotion-Focused Interventions: Therapeutic Presence and Empathic Attunement 

Trainer:   Mrs. Catherine Poon
Target:    Social workers, counselors, clinical psychologists and other helping professionals


As a helping profession, maintaining therapeutic presence is the most fundamental and essential foundation from which we can scaffold our therapeutic work in an effective way.  Presence is the pre-requisite for active listening, empathic attunement and making appropriate empathic responses.  Presence can enhance our ability to listen accurately and to make deep connection with our clients.  It is also the base for us to build up a collaborative working relationship with our clients.  With a strong bonding with our clients, the drop-out rate is drastically decreased.  Paradoxically, the more we can be present with our clients, the lesser risk of burnt-out we would have.  This workshop is aiming at giving a practical guide to cultivating therapeutic presence so that we can build up a therapeutic relationship efficiently and effectively.  This workshop would lay a solid foundation for further learning on other process-experiential approaches and emotion-focused interventions.


This workshop aims at:

  • equipping the skills of daily practice in cultivating therapeutic presence

  • enhancing the ability of active listening and empathic attunement

  • learning how to select differentiated interventions of empathic responses

  • promoting the interest, confidence and skills in working with clients in an experiential way 

  • laying a solid foundation for further learning on process-experiential approach of therapy

Course Outline:

  • Learning how to cultivate therapeutic presence

  • Exploring our barriers to therapeutic presence

  • Enhancing empathic attunement

  • Expanding the spectrum of our acceptance

  • Strengthening our capacity of containment

  • Deepening connection with our clients

  • Selecting therapeutic targets and choosing differentiated interventions of empathic responses

  • Developing collaborative therapeutic alliance


Training Format:

  • Didactic presentations

  • Experiential exercises

  • Simulated practice of counseling 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.