The Bridge Encounter

About Bridging

Bridging is a communication method which slows two people down and creates a deep connection. It involves appreciative enquiry as one person listens and asks the other opening questions. It supports a way for two people to meet in their hearts.

You can listen to Cate guiding Denise Van Outen and Eddie Boxshall through a Bridge in their Podcast Before We Say I Do.

Bridging was developed by Hedy Schleiffer and adapted from Harville Hendrix’ work. In his book, “Getting the love you want”, Harville discovered that people are seeking to heal their childhood wounds and are drawn to people who mirror the worst and best of their caregivers. This means that people can find relationships pretty difficult or even traumatic and he developed scripts to help people find ways to hear each other.

Hedy Schleiffer took Harville’s work and introduced relaxation, breath and close proximity so that people could relax more while connecting. What Hedy discovered is that we are built for connection and long for the presence of the other.

Martin Buber said that the relationship lives in the space between us. When we don’t know about this space we might pollute it with a word or a reaction and as a result, the space may become unsafe. Some people might become louder in this space and some may become quieter.

Bridging teaches you three invisible connectors:

  1. The relational space
  2. Crossing the bridge to the other person’s world – bringing our full presence to the other person
  3. The encounter – listening with an open heart

Bridging encourages us to slow down, to breathe and to create the right moment to connect. When we do this, it enables us to attune to the other person and and really listen from the heart.

When we communicate in this way, we co-regulate through the eyes of another and there is a joining of our neurobiology. New neural pathways can form when someone gifts us their presence.

Claude Steiner in his book “Emotional Literacy” shares that when we use “I statements” and say what we feel about an action or an inaction, we can really open our hearts and allow people to know us.

About the Bridge Encounter course

In this online course, you will:

  • be guided into a relational paradigm shift and learn how to move from the head to the heart in connection.
  • learn how to create the right conditions for relating.
  • experience the healing power of slowing down and connecting from the heart.
  • learn about yourself and another through deep presencing and listening.
  • explore how your upbringing has influenced your relationships, what your heart’s desire is and what you would like to clear in your life.

In this course you will learn a series of ‘bridges’ called The Organic Journey.

You will explore how your upbringing has influenced your relationships, what your heart’s desire is and what you would like to clear in your life.

You’ll take a journey through different ‘bridges’ so that you can get a sense of how you can use them in different ways.

In Bridging, we recognise that in couples or individuals there is often a distancer and a pursuer, a high desire person and a low desire person, or an octupus and a turtle where one person chases and the other retreats. This dance can create stress and unhappiness in the relationship.

With a bridge, we take a lot of time to create a relaxed and calm atmosphere between two people before they connect. Only then they are guided to deeply listen to the other. Both people can be transformed by the depth of becoming truly present.

You learn so much about yourself and another through deep presencing and listening.

Who is this course for

The Bridging Encounter is for anyone interested in relating skills.

You can join together with a practice partner and if you do, make sure you’re together in the same space for the call. Or you can join individually and we’ll do our best to pair you with someone else on the calls.

This training is for:

  1. Individuals who would like to deepen their communication skills.
  2. Couples wanting to take some time out to create meaningful and uplifting connection.
  3. Pairs of therapists/facilitators who are interested in adopting this tool into their practice – find a colleague to work with and be in the same space.
  4. Pairs of friends or family members wanting to learn a communication tool together.

About Cate Mackenzie

Cate Mackenzie is a Psychosexual Therapist, Couples Counsellor and Workshop Leader. She has run workshops in six countries since 1998, does monthly Facebook lives for Psychologies Magazine and was the dating coach for Channel 4’s “The Undateables”. She is regularly on radio and in the press and her heart paintings were sold in 80 countries worldwide through IKEA.


“As someone who lives connection and does it for a living, I was truly blown away by this practice. It takes you right to the heart of meaningful communication so that you can open up a profound sense of feeling felt by each other.” – Roma Norriss

“Cate and Paul hold the space for this precious work with such grace and compassion. Cate’s deep commitment and desire to lovingly support all participants shines through at every moment. Paul and Cate share with touching honesty which allows participants to be true and open without feelings of judgement. The course itself gave us as a couple new insights, awareness of each others needs and tools to navigate toward deeper understanding. Cate and Paul guide with exceptional sensitivity sprinkled with humour and an accepting understanding of human nature.” – Kate McKenzie

“We have just finished Cate Mackenzie’s course “The Bridge Encounter” and we just wanted to pass on our heartfelt thanks for bringing this method of communication into our relationship. We would recommend this to all couples or anyone who wants to get better at communicating and listening. The techniques are clearly presented each week with Cate and Paul providing a safe, fun container for our practice. The deeper sharing and active listening practices have enabled us to understand the source of key triggers/frustrations for one another and to navigate discussions with the love and tenderness we so wish to offer each other. We feel valued by each other. Thanks again it has been a wonderful experience, so worthwhile”. – J and D

“I loved this course. I would say it is essential for anyone who is in any kind of relationship and wants to deepen and harmonise their connection. Cate’s vibrance with Paul’s down-to-earth humility worked so well together as they sensitively, authentically and expertly demonstrated the bridging process. It was an honour to connect so deeply and vulnerably with another as we practiced the process in pairs. I have never done any training on communication skills and after doing this course I wonder why this is not essential training for everyone.” – Sarah Samuel

“Cate is a wonderful teacher, she holds space wonderfully enabling everyone to feel like a highly valued member of the group. This course helped me deepen a friendship with my bridging partner that may otherwise have remained more surface level. Through our deep sharing on this course and in practices outside the sessions we gave ourselves permission to open up and I allowed him to see me fully. I have now made what I hope to be a life-long friend.” – J.W.

“Words cannot express how much better our communication is after the course – the bridging was beautiful and facilitated us really hearing and seeing each other as we are with softness and compassion. We are planning to keep up bridging as a regular practice.” – Andrew White

“I loved every minute of the course. I think the group structure was amazing and the ability of the group to normalise our behaviour was so powerful – seeing how people have common triggers/responses. I found that there were some real gems from others that I found really helpful. One that really stuck with me from a fellow participant on the course – we want to move from wounded children to compassionate adults – sums it up really.” – S.P.

“Cate’s bridging course has helped me be more open, authentic, and receptive in my relationships with my family and my partner.” – A.J.

“I highly recommend this course – it was so powerful, and beautifully held. I love how Paul and Cate work together.” – Sarah Samuel

“I loved this course and have recommended it to lots of my clients.” – Dee Larson

“Cate is really good at teaching Bridging, which is a powerful tool.” – Merlin Matthews

“It was a really lovely course. I felt supported by the group. There was a lot of empathy and closeness that formed over that time. Paul and Cate held space really well and some of their examples were moving. I felt hesitant at first, that some of the techniques would come across as patronising, but practising and being on the receiving end I found real value in reflecting back and in the creativity of some of the scripts to heal the past. I look forward to practising more and attending the next course. Thankyou.” – Aiyana Cole-Jones




  • Getting the Love You Want – Harville Hendrix
  • The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
  • How to Make Relationships Work – Anne Geraghty
  • Conscious Loving – Gay and Kathleen Hendricks
  • Hold Me Tight – Sue Johnson
  • Rekindling Desire – Barry McCarthy and Emily McCarthy
  • Intimacy & Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship – David Schnarch
  • Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame – Patricia DeYoung
  • Counselling Skills for Working with Shame – Christiane Sanderson
  • Shame and Jealousy: The Hidden Turmoils – Phil Mollon
  • Unshame: Healing Trauma-based Shame Through Psychotherapy – Carolyn Spring
  • Shame and the Origins of Self-Esteem: A Jungian Approach – Mario Jacoby