Advanced Methods for Promoting Corrective Experiences in Schema Therapy

Professor Dave Edwards (South Africa)

President International Society of Schema Therapy, Clinical Psychologist. Advanced Schema Therapist and Trainer

Date/ Time- 23/ 24 April 2018 , 9am- 5pm 

Venue- TREACY CENTRE, The Avenue, Parkville, Melbourne Victoria  

Cost- $480 


Promoting corrective experiences is at the heart of schema therapy and basic training in schema therapy includes ways of doing this through imagery rescripting.  However, when we implement these basics, many challenges arise. We encounter obstacles that are not always easy to negotiate. This workshop will present theory and clinical methods that allow clinicians to deal with some of these complexities. We will look at the nature of memory, and, in particular, autobiographical memory, because it is this memory system that we are working with when we work with imagery rescripting and chairwork.  We will also look at how the entrenched patterns that we call schemas are embedded within the autobiographical memory system and what this means for bringing about change.

The more we can understand how this memory system works, the better we can work with it in the therapy setting.  The workshop will provide ways of increasing that understanding.  It will focus on Important themes and points arising from this, drawn from the following (although, depending on the length and process of the workshop, not all of these may be included):

Imagination and autobiographical memory: What is the autobiographical memory system and how does it relate to imagery and what, throughout history, has been called “imagination”?

Finding the deep structure of a client’s modes: The initial mode map we construct early in the therapy may be an oversimplified version of the underlying structure of a client’s experience.  As we engage with experiential work and more complex deep structure emerges.  We can learn to map this and this can inform our case conceptualization and guide the experiential work we do.

Self-attacking does not always come from a Parent mode:  it can be part of a coping mode or even a child mode and when this is the case we need to approach it differently.

Coping decisions and the coping Child:  Coping modes have a history – they often form in early childhood.  They are not always the adult version that we initially see.  In this case, a coping mode can be quite childlike, what I call a Coping Child or a Protector Child.  We will look at how to identify and work with this.  This can involve identifying coping decisions and reparenting the Coping Child.

Principles of emotion-focused work in schema therapy: The kind of emotion-focused work we do in schema therapy has parallels in other therapies that use emotion-focused methods. Understanding the principles of emotion focused work can enrich and inform our practice and guide us in negotiating obstacles that arise.

From specific memory to parts of the self: Memory is mostly not literal.  Information is abstracted and simplified.  This is the meaning of the term schema.  Repeated experiences create a familiar pattern that becomes a part of the self. A child part will thus often appear as a generic child, rather than a specific child on a specific day in a specific situation.  A coping part becomes a generalized pattern rather than a single way of coping with one situation. Identifying the parts allows us to shift from rescripting specific memories to understanding and renegotiating the relationships between different parts of the self.

Working with dissociation: Sometimes key memories that are the basis of a difficult maladaptive schema are dissociated.  Even with clients who are able to do emotion-focused work, these memories may be difficult to access.  We will look at cues that suggest there is a significant dissociated memory or set of memories and how we can work to undo the dissociation.

Working with mental defeat and hopelessness:  Hopeless states are a particular challenge in schema therapy because when clients connect with them they give up trying to change and may become suicidal.  We will look at how hopelessness may stem from very early experiences, and how by understanding the deeper mode structure (that might include a Defeated or Hopeless Child) we can work to help clients overcome hopelessness.

How far back do the memories that underlie maladaptive schemas go?  We are used to rescripting memories from middle childhood that can often be easily recalled and connected with emotionally. But attachment theory suggests that early maladaptive schemas form from the beginning of life at a time when explicit memories are not available.  We will look at the current state of research on memory in infancy (and even before) and at case examples where it seemed possible to provide corrective experiences for memories from infancy and even before.

Many of these topics will be illustrated with case examples including transcripts from actual therapy sessions, and you will have the opportunity to explore some of them through experiential exercises.

About the Presenter

Professor Dave Edwards

President International Society of Schema Therapy

2016 08 Dave Edwards.jpg

David Edwards is a Professor at Rhodes University, South Africa and is currently President of the International Society for Schema Therapy.  At Rhodes University, he was involved in the professional training of clinical and counselling psychologists from 1980 to 2009. Now retired and working part time for the University, he conducts and publishes research on aspects of psychotherapy and supervises research students.

He has a longstanding interest in psychotherapy integration and has experience with expressive approaches to psychotherapy through drama, dance, sculpture, painting and drawing, particularly within the humanistic and transpersonal traditions. In his research, he has promoted the role of case study methodology in the development of applied clinical science and used case studies to provide a contextualized evidence-base for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in South Africa.

He was fortunate to be connected to the beginnings of schema therapy when he attended seminars with Jeffrey Young while training in cognitive therapy at the University of Pennsylvania in 1984.  His enthusiasm was refreshed when, at a conference in Barcelona in 2007, he met Arnoud Arntz. one of the leaders in the Dutch group. In 2008, he attended a workshop presented by Arnoud Arntz in London and learned about the new research on schema therapy as a treatment for borderline personality disorder. He joined the newly formed International Society for Schema Therapy (ISST) and is certified as a schema therapist and trainer in individual ST and in ST for couples.