Update on Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy and Touching the Earth

It has been a while since I last posted on this blog and I thought it was about time I provided an update on what I have been working on.

I have settled into and am loving being part of the team at the Centre for Psychology and Emotional Health, where I provide individual and couple Emotion-Focused Therapy, Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy (EFMT) groups, and professional training and mentoring for therapists in EFMT.

Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy (EFMT) Training for Therapists
I will be offering a three-weekend introduction to EFMT for therapists January 15 & 16, February 12 & 13, and March 12 & 13, 2022. I am delighted that Serine Warwar, our director, will be guest faculty each weekend.

My colleagues Rodelyn Wisco and Cleo Haber will join me on the first Sunday of the training to introduce trainees to Touching the Earth, a way for therapists to form a community of practice to support each other’s emotion-focused mindfulness meditation practice (see more on Touching the Earth below).

The early bird rate of $1160 + HST is available until October 15, 2021. For more information or to register, click here.

The three-weekend EFMT introductory series will be followed by an optional monthly small group mentoring series.

EFMT is a style of mindfulness meditation that cultivates gentle curiosity and self-compassion to help people process their issues and core concerns and to develop more genuine ways of relating to themselves, others, and the world. This approach integrates mindfulness-based interventions into Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT). EFT promotes emotional awareness, acceptance, expression, regulation, understanding, and transformation of emotion using active interventions such as empathic exploration, focusing, and chair work.

Online EFMT Group for Clients
I am recruiting for an eight-week online Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy group which I am hoping to start November 2nd, 2021, depending on how quickly people register. It will take place on Tuesdays evenings, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

For those totally new to meditation, this group will introduce you to a gentle, welcoming form of meditation and an opportunity to deepen and transform your experience. For more experienced meditators, this group will provide you with ways to expand and refresh your practice. Participants learn to cultivate empathy and compassion towards themselves and others in order to arrive at, make sense of, and transform the places we can all too easily get stuck, in meditation and in life.

Group sessions include talks, meditation, journaling, and sharing, exploring, and discussing meditation experiences with the group therapist. The group will be followed by an optional extra eight weeks and an open-ended, monthly continuation group.

If you are interested in participating, you can find more information by clicking here or contact the Centre for Psychology and Emotional Health at info@cpeh.ca or 416-519-7904 to start the intake process. Our clinical coordinator, Katie Parker, will do an intake with you, we will send you a 35-minute video to watch that describes the group, and then we will schedule a free 20-minute conversation with me to answer any questions you have, explore and help you to articulate your goals for the group, and make sure we both think the group will benefit you.

There is also room for a mental health professional to participate in the group as a participant observer.

Touching the Earth Mindfulness Ontario (TtEMO)
Part of my aspiration in developing Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy was not only to provide a way of integrating compassion more deeply into mindfulness in order to better address harsh self-criticism and trauma and to navigate life, but also to support both clients and therapists in using the approach to develop mature mindfulness practices within a secular context, rather than their having to make the leap to studying with Buddhist teachers and going on Buddhist retreats. I support my clients in this by providing a monthly continuation group that forms an ongoing community of practice.

I have supported mental health professionals in deepening their emotion-focused mindfulness practice through various monthly groups, one-day workshops, and annual summer residential retreats. This coalesced at the beginning of the pandemic into monthly online sessions using a community form of emotion-focused mindfulness I developed called Touching the Earth.

With Touching the Earth, we are exploring a less hierarchical, teacher-centric way of mindfulness community practice, with a more vulnerable, participatory form of leadership. There are 28 of us meeting in two groups.

This summer we formed a nonprofit, Touching the Earth Mindfulness Ontario (TtEMO), to help us sustain and grow our small community in a way that nurtures the deep sense of community, authenticity and aliveness that characterize our sessions. We look forward to finding ways of sharing this form of practice and mutual support with a broader community of mental health professionals and therapists. Our first AGM to choose our first elected board will take place later this month.

TtEMO’s objectives are:

Touching the Earth Mindfulness Ontario fosters the cultivation of emotion-focused mindfulness through communities of practice in which members meditate, journal, share and explore meditation experience, and reflect on what they are learning together. We are oriented towards the perspectives and values of Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy, adapted for peers practising mindfulness in community rather than as psychotherapy. We value our secular dharma roots, and the richness and diversity of our global philosophical and spiritual heritages. We seek to develop and share mindfulness training and practice programs to help psychotherapists, counsellors, other health professionals, and the general public develop caring, accountable, egalitarian communities for supporting one another in cultivating healing, growth, and navigating life in deeply valued, fulfilling ways.

You can read more about Touching the Earth in two articles I wrote for the Secular Buddhist Network: Touching the Earth: Exploring a New, Secular Self-Help Mindfulness Group Approach and Update on Touching the Earth.