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Therapeutic Presence in Grief & Loss Counseling

Therapeutic Presence in Grief & Loss Counseling

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Presented by

Shari Geller, PhD, C.Psych

Clinical Psychologist & Co-Director

Centre for MindBody Health

Teaching Faculty

Department of Psychology, York University

Purchase Now

USD$99 for 3-hour module

Therapeutic presence is foundational to supporting a strong therapeutic relationship and allowing clients to process major losses at each stage of life.  Therapeutic presence is a mindful relational stance that encompasses the qualities of being engaged and receptively attuned in the moment, compassionately with and for the client, and in direct human to human contact, which promotes safety and growth.  It is an invitation for therapists to remain grounded and present while attuning to clients’ moment-to-moment experiences.  When therapists can offer themselves fully to their grieving clients with therapeutic presence, they nourish a safe and profound relationship conducive to clients’ growth in therapy. 

Suffering is universal, and death and loss are inevitable.  In grief counseling, therapeutic presence bolsters the expression of acceptance, openness, receptiveness, and warmth.  Discomfort surrounding death and non-death related losses (e.g., relationships, jobs, functioning) can block healing, especially when therapists feel pressure to fix something that cannot be fixed.  When therapists approach grief and loss with presence, it allows clients to feel safe and supported on a neurophysiological level.  In this context, presence is at the core of healing in grief counseling.

This module will involve (a) a didactic approach to understanding therapeutic presence, and (b) experiential practices for therapists to cultivate therapeutic presence and self-compassion and work with the challenges to remaining present with clients’ suffering from grief and loss.  An empirically validated model of therapeutic presence will be presented as a map to build and strengthen the skills of presence within self and with clients.  There will be an exploration of the neurophysiological principles to create safety with therapeutic presence, based on concepts such as co-regulation and neuroception of safety stemming from the Polyvagal Theory (Geller & Porges, 2014).  Key mindfulness and self-compassion practices will be shared to help therapists cultivate presence and work through barriers to presence that may get in the way of meeting and supporting clients experience of grief and loss.


  • Explore an empirically validated model of therapeutic presence along with key skills and core practices for cultivating presence in grief counseling relationships;

  • Understand the neurophysiological underpinnings of therapeutic presence, client safety, and effective clinical relationships;

  • Practice presence during grief counseling and in life to sustain connection in therapeutic interactions; and

  • Strengthen internal and external attunement to allow therapists to meet clients directly in their grief while staying in contact with their own experience.

Note:  Completion of this program and return of the Responsive Journal satisfies 1 Orientation Module required for Certification in Grief Therapy as Meaning Reconstruction, Certification in Grief Therapy for Suicide Bereavement or Certification in Grief Therapy for Non-Death Losses.


This program contains the following video segments:

  1. Listening to Loss:  Toward a Model of Therapeutic Presence (47 mins)
  2. The Essence of Presence:  Polyvagal Theory and Research (38 mins)

  3. Practice Makes Presence:  Practical Tools for Therapy and Life (44 mins)

  4. Interoception:  Attunement and Compassion (37 mins)



Shari Geller, PhD, C.Psych, is an author and leader in the field of therapeutic presence, clinical psychologist, and Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher.  Shari offers training modules in therapeutic presence internationally as part of a longer-term vision of having presence be a foundational training across psychotherapy approaches.  With over thirty years’ experience weaving psychology and mindfulness, Shari co-authored the book, Therapeutic Presence: A Mindful Approach to Effective Therapy (2012) with Dr. Leslie S. Greenberg (the second edition will be released October, 2022).  Shari’s book: A Practical Guide For Cultivating Therapeutic Presence (2017), offers hands on tools and guidance for cultivating and strengthening presence in therapy.  Shari created the Therapeutic Rhythm and Mindfulness Program (TRM™), a group modality integrating mindfulness, rhythm practices and emotion-focused awareness to enhance wellbeing and presence.  Shari serves on the teaching faculty in Health Psychology at York University and is Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, in association with Music and Health Research Collaboratory (MaHRC).  She is on the steering committee and part of the core faculty of the Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy (SCIP) certificate program.  Shari is the co-director of the Centre for MindBody Health, in Toronto, where she offers training, supervision and therapy in Emotion-Focused therapy (EFT) and Mindfulness and Self-Compassion modalities for individuals and couples.  See more information on and

Shari Geller,
PhD, C.Psych

Photo - Shari Geller.jpg
Purchase Now

USD$99 for 3-hour module

For other enquiries, simply email Carolyn.

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