Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy

In emotion-focused mindfulness therapy (EFMT), we treat emotions as adaptive resources in meditation and life. Learning to make sense of your emotions through meditation helps you better navigate your life, oriented to your deepest values.

About Emotion-Focused Mindfulness Therapy

Emotion-focused mindfulness therapy (EFMT) is a way of developing compassion and empathy towards oneself and others through mindfulness of embodied experiencing. Compassion involves feeling moved by and wanting to alleviate suffering. Empathy is the ability to follow feelings and thoughts in oneself and others with kindness and warmth.


EFMT enhances mindfulness teachers’ therapeutic presence including their ability to follow and facilitate meditators’ emotional processes when they are reporting their meditation practice. It also enriches the meditator’s own experience and process of navigating difficult thoughts and emotions in meditation and life. For example, you will learn how we can enhance our ability to experience and respond to emotions by reflecting on our bodily experience and on how and what we are thinking about. In other meditation practices, there is a tendency to interrupt emotional processes by putting thoughts aside to concentrate on bodily sensations.


Emotion-focused mindfulness highlights a mindfulness practice that can help us better navigate emotions in meditation, decreasing suffering, increasing happiness, and empowering us to live more deeply valued lives. Rather than feeling better, the emphasis is on getting better at feeling, so that our feelings help us to better navigate our lives.


The most popular forms of mindfulness-based interventions, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR, Kabat-Zinn, 1990) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT, Segal, Williams, Teasdale, 2002), emerged out of dialogues between behavioural or cognitive behavioural therapy (respectively) and forms of Buddhist modernism which, despite their laicized forms of practice, remain strongly influenced by traditional Buddhist monasticism including its emphases on purity, metaphysical beliefs, and transcendence of the human existential condition (Higgins, 2012). In contrast, emotion-focused mindfulness therapy consists of a neo-humanistic, emotion-focused therapy (EFT, Greenberg, 2015) perspective in closest dialogue with emerging humanistic secular Buddhist literature and practices (Higgins, 2012; Batchelor, 2015, 2017; Siff, 2010). “In Buddhism as in Christianity, secularity brings forth a new humanistic approach to ethical-spiritual life and creative this-worldly practices” (Higgins, 2012: abstract).



Batchelor, S. (2015). After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age. Yale University Press: New Haven & London.

Batchelor, S. (2017). Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World.Yale University Press: New Haven & London.

Gayner, B., Esplen, M.J., DeRoche, P., Wong, J., Bishop, S., Kavanagh, L., & Butler, K.A. (2012). A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction to manage affective symptoms and improve quality of life in gay men living with HIV. J Behav Med. Jun; 35(3): 272-85. doi: 10.1007/s10865-011-9350-8. Epub 2011 May 20.

Greenberg, L. (2015). Emotion-Focused Therapy: Coaching Clients to Work Through Their Feelings.American Psychological Association: Washington, D.C.

Higgins, W. (2012). The Coming of Secular Buddhism: a Synoptic View, Journal of Global Buddhism 13: 109-126.

Kabat-Zinn J. (1990). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Random House: New York City.

Segal, Z.V., Williams, J.M.G., & Teasdale, J.D. (2002). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: A New Approach to Preventing Relapse. The Guilford Press: New York City.

Siff, J. (2010). Unlearning Meditation: What to Do When the Instructions Get in the Way. Shambhala Publications, Inc.: Boston, MA.