Who We Are

We are relationship focused, offering positive and effective communication skills for general life enhancement.

The FOCUS Team

Our professional counseling team supports couples, individuals and adolescents with depression, anxiety, trauma, anger/stress management and addiction. We are relationship focused, offering positive and effective communication skills for general life enhancement.

Sarah BREIDENBACH

BA, MSSc (Couns), ACA, HKPCA,
APCA (Hk)
Sarah worked in the US public health sector for nearly a decade before relocating to Hong Kong. She has been counseling for 16 years and specializes in the treatment of depression and anxiety. She holds a Masters in Social Science (Counseling) with a focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), trauma work and addiction psychology studies.

Sarah believes the basis of positive mental health is found in our relationships. As a mother and expat living in Asia for the past 11 years, she emphasizes the importance of friendship and trust with oneself and with others. By supporting adults, adolescents and couples to improve their relationships while honing skills to manage life stress, she applies counseling as an empowering tool to help people access their own inherent strength. Sarah advocates for the use of Mindfulness Meditation and is a certified level II practitioner of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). She believes these modalities are fundamental in treating long-standing issues and in creating tangible results for her clients.

Sarah has worked all over the world, including Latin America, Africa and now Asia. Sarah is also a certified yoga teacher and continues to study alternative systems of wellness including Buddhism and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Her treatment plans are known for being integrative and her counseling framework diverse, addressing one’s full spectrum of needs.

Areas of Interest:

  • Depression, anxiety, panic disorder
  • Couples counseling / neurobiology regulation
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) / trauma recovery
  • Adjustment disorder / Separation anxiety (adolescents)
  • Grief / bereavement
  • Pregnancy and fertility related issues
  • Eating disorders / body-image issues
  • Addiction
  • Anger management

Brittany RICE

MA Counselling

Brittany has spent the past decade in Asia, where she has worked closely with people who have diverse cultural backgrounds from around Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Europe. In addition to trying to keep up with life as a new mom, she enjoys sports and baking – her specialty is snickerdoodles.

After years of working in education, Brittany attained her Master’s in Guidance and Counselling, and has since pursued her passion for working with and helping others not just to survive but thrive in life, through counseling and HR. She holds a strong belief that any person who is willing can achieve positive personal growth. Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Person-Centered Therapy Brittany helps clients recognize negative behavioral and thinking patterns that may hinder personal growth as well as disrupt relationships, communication, and work.

Brittany is known for her welcoming, non-judgmental attitude, which allows for building a positive, therapeutic working relationship with each client. She believes in the power of the present in processing unresolved issues, current dilemmas, communication problems and has helped many people rebuild identity after significant life changes.

Accepting ourselves as we are now is the starting place for personal growth. Having a safe space for self-exploration, gaining insight, and working through issues is something Brittany considers an invaluable experience we all can benefit from, whether for specific issues or maintaining a sense of well-being.

Areas of Interest:

  • Anxiety, depression
  • Identity
  • Relationships, communication, healthy boundaries
  • Pregnancy and fertility related issues
  • Processing emotions and problem solving
  • General well-being

Alli RUTTGER

BA, BEd, MA (Couns Psych), CCC, HKPCA

Alli was born in Canada, and she has spent the majority of her adult life living abroad in Vietnam, Jordan, and now Hong Kong. She has a Masters’ Degree in Counselling Psychology and she specializes in working with young adults and adults who are recovering from the impacts of adversity, stress, transition, and loss.

Her own life experiences, as well as her work in educational, therapeutic, and human rights spaces continue to teach her how complex it is to be human. She believes that there is value in honouring complexity in a world that tends to shy away from painful and challenging stories. In her work, she aims to create a warm, non-blaming space for such stories to be told. Her specialized training in NARM (the Neuro-Affective Relational Model) and Narrative Therapy have contributed to the development of her non-invasive, inquisitive, and intentional therapeutic style.

Alli’s approach to helping her clients is relational. The therapeutic relationship is the foundation from which complex stories can be unwoven and their impact processed safely. Her overarching intention is to be with her clients as they explore how long-standing and familiar patterns might be getting in the way of their hopes and preferences, and supporting them as they move toward what they would most like for themselves. She brings her signature warmth, her patient disposition, and her humanity into her work.

Areas of Interest:

  • Complex trauma (cPTSD), trauma-informed care
  • Identity building, self-worth
  • Exploring cultural identity
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Neuroscience and neurobiology
  • LGBTQ+ identity
  • Migrant workers and refugees

Valerie DESPRETZ

BA, MA, MSSc (Couns), HKPCA, APCA (Hk)

Valerie was born in France, raised in North Africa and lived in Asia most of her life. She is the mother of two, an expert problem-solver and a fiercely compassionate counselor. Her style is direct yet kind, her work is targeted yet flexible.

After a successful career in business management, where Valerie excelled at helping people overcome their professional difficulties and access their best abilities, she decided to pursue a long-standing interest in human psychology. Valerie has a Masters degree of Social Sciences in Counseling from the University of Hong Kong with a focus in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Positive Psychology.

Valerie trained herself in additional modalities such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), relaxation and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Valerie also certified in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Level 1 & 2) to integrate body and mind and help her clients deal with big and small traumas. Valerie can consequently offer a holistic approach, strengths-oriented therapy that treats symptoms, empowers her clients and improves their overall well-being.

Valerie decided to move back to her home country and continues the adventure in France with online sessions and the creation of Focus Thérapie in Lille and Paris.

Areas of Interest:

  • Depression / Self-worth
  • Anxiety / stress / Panic attacks
  • Trauma recovery / PTSD
  • Adjustment / grief / loss
  • Teenagers issues / bullying
  • Relationship issues / couple
  • Anger & difficult emotions management
  • General well-being / life enhancement

Gaelle Foulon DAFFNER

Counsellor, MSocSci, MHKPCA

From business school to marketing and sales in the telecom industry, to certified yoga teacher to coach, Gaelle had a meandering life path that led her nonetheless to her true calling: counselling. Now that she holds a master’s in counselling with honors from Hong Kong University and supports clients worldwide, she is grateful for her eclectic background, a rich soil to grow into an empathic counsellor and to help embrace the multifaceted nature of reality.

A French native, Gaelle is fully bilingual in French and English having lived in England, the US and 16 years in Hong Kong with her Franco-American family. She has recently relocated to the South of France, where she continues to support online an international clientele of expatriates.

Philosophically her work is rooted in ACT (Acceptance and Commitment therapy) for which she is continuously supervised. She personally experiences the power of acceptance and value base living and have witnessed many times how it helps her clients get unstuck and find meaning. Over the years, her work also became informed with IFS (Internal Family system), Polyvagal Therapy and EMDR as she finds that they complement ACT in accessing the more emotional and intuitive self.

As a counsellor she is often describe as energetic, supportive, intuitive and genuine (sometimes funny too).

Areas of Interest:

  • Depression / Self-worth
  • Anxiety
  • Hyper sensibility
  • Eating disorder (adolescent)
  • Trauma
  • Life transition (young adults and adults)
  • Relationship crisis
  • Burnout
  • Couple therapy

Miki FUKUNAGA

MS Applied Psychology (Hong Kong), M. Couns (Monash University), Ms.C. (Translation), RN (Japan), EMDR Certified

Miki has worked as a registered nurse in Japan for 10 years. She moved to Hong Kong in the year 2000. While she was working as an interpreter at a hospital, she obtained the master’s degree in applied psychology at the City University of Hong Kong. She then received a Master of Counselling degree from Monash University.

Miki is trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. She is certified in EMDR and Brainspotting, two very important modalities for the treatment and care of trauma. Miki’s training and approach places a great emphasis on the relationship between the therapist and client. In fact, she believes the most important thing in recovery is to feel safe and connected to others.

With her experience working as a nurse in Japan, she would like to stay present to patients’ physical and psychological pain in order to support their recovery.

日本で、正看護師として10年間働いたあと、2000年に香港に移住。病院で医療通訳として働きながら、香港城市大学にて応用心理学の修士課程を修了。その後、オーストラリア、Monash University のカウンセリングの修士課程を100時間の実践カウンセリングのトレーニングを経て、修了。

認知行動療法(CBT)及びEMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)のトレーニングを受けトラウマケアを行っているが、その後、ブレインスポッティングに出会い、トレーニングを受け、現在は、セラピストとクライアントとの関係性を重視するブレインスポッティングを中心にカウンセリングを行う。

美紀はどのようなクライアントにとっても回復の為には、安心、安全を感じる事と、人と繋がる感覚を持つ事が重要である、と信じている。

日本で看護師として働いた経験を生かして、クライアントの身体的、心理的痛みに寄り添い、回復の手助けをしたいと感じています。

Fukunaga Miki is a native in Japan, but not a native English speaker

Areas of Interest:

  • Anxiety (不安症)
  • Depression (鬱状態)
  • Panic attack (パニック障害)
  • Attachment problems (愛着の問題)
  • Grief/ Loss/ Pet loss (悲嘆/喪失/ペットロス)
  • Developmental problem in Adult (CBT) (大人の発達障害)
  • Chronic pain(慢性痛)

Dr Gracemary K.H. LEUNG

PhD (London), MSc(clin) Exeter, MBA (Bournemouth), BA (Hons) Lon., C.Psychol, AFBPsS, AFHKPs

Dr. Gracemary Leung is a Chartered Clinical psychologist, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and Associate Fellow of the HK Psychological Society.

Dr. Leung worked in the UK from 1978 where she initiated and managed care programs for the rehabilitation of people with schizophrenia and for behaviorally disturbed adolescents and children. From 1991, she served as the Director of Community Forensic services. Her clinical experience includes working with schizophrenia, violent and sex offenders, cognitive behavior therapy for pain patients, suicidal prevention and depressed patients, and problem Internet users and gamblers.

From Sept 2000, she taught in a variety of departments at The University of Hong Kong, including the roles of Director of Psychological Services Unit and Acting Director for Student Development and Counseling. Retiring in August 2006, she continues to offer courses part-time. She has also run many training workshops on communication, change management, stress management, and workplace violence both in corporate and governmental sectors.

Dr. Leung is a longstanding and sought after professor in Hong Kong and an expert in the field of mental health. She is not currently taking new clients but serves as Honorary Consultant to FOCUS Psychological Enrichment Centre.

With Sarah I found a place I could be more honest and real then I had been able to be before. Her ability to listen and help me reframe my challenges allowed me to accept myself in ways I hadn’t been able to before. I was able to be vulnerable and share my messy life and shortcomings. She helped me to pick up the pieces and on a tactical and emotional level put things back together in a healthier way.

– Christine –

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