Dr. Shari Geller, PhD, C.Psych.

Dr. Shari Geller, PhD, C.Psych.
Author, Clinical Psychologist, and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) teacher

AMS2022 Learning Session

Presence and Self-Compassion with Grief and Loss in the Pandemic

Suffering is universal, and death is inevitable. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the related collective trauma, there has been no shortage of grief and loss. Discomfort surrounding death and non-death related losses 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 in relationships on a neurophysiological level. In this context, presence is at the core of healing in grief counseling as well as enhanced alliance and outcomes.

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 other, and in direct human to human contact, which promotes safety and growth. Self-care is a significant component of presence contributing to our ability to sustain presence and optimize engagement in the work of helping professions. As such, self-compassion supports the embodiment of presence and therapeutic presence is foundational to the cultivation of self-compassion. Both presence and self-compassion are necessary aids in the face of grief and loss.

This workshop will involve:

(a) a didactic approach to understanding therapeutic presence

(b) experiential practices to cultivate therapeutic presence and self-compassion. 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 Polyvagal Theory (Geller & Porges, 2014).

We will share key mindfulness and self-compassion practices to help therapists cultivate presence and work through barriers to presence that may ensue with both therapists and clients struggling with grief and loss.

Dr. Shari Geller, PhD, C.Psych.

Dr. Shari Geller is an Author, Clinical Psychologist, and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) teacher. Shari offers training modules in therapeutic presence internationally as part of a longer-term vision of having therapeutic 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 (second edition to be released in fall 2022). Shari’s recent book: A Practical Guide For Cultivating Therapeutic Presence (2017), offers practical guidance for cultivating and strengthening therapeutic presence as a foundational approach. 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. www.sharigeller.ca www.cmbh.space.