ACT’S New Schema Therapy Course…

Last night was the very first evening of the new ACT Counselling Services ‘Practising Schema Focused Therapy’ — an approach by Jeff Young 10 week course. This course has been a long time coming as we have been asked to build upon our ‘Introduction to Schema Therapy’ one-day CPD event for several years now. We are really pleased with the materials that we have written and it was good to get week 1 underway in order to give them their maiden voyage.

We were reminded in both the writing of the materials and in last night’s delivery of the complexity of Schema Therapy but also of the power to effect change in clients with complex and enduring Mental Disorders.

Educational Phase

Clock saying time to learn

Last night saw us visit the educational phase involved in Jeff Young’s approach. There were a couple a few points that gave the course team cause for reflection. Firstly the unconscious drive with people with a personality diagnosis to continue to confirm the validity of the Schema, and any information which does not do so is either avoided, distorted or ignored. So the client with an Abandonment schema will unconsciously behave in a way that leaves them abandoned by others. The client with a Defectiveness schema will unconsciously behave in a way that confirms their ‘not good enough’ view of self through self-sabotage or being overly perfectionistic.

Cognitions and Schemas

Head with cogs and wheels coming out of it

The next point we wish to make is that of the gap between cognition and Schemas. This leads to cognition and emotion mismatch. So although the person with the Abandonment Schema knows that the evidence disputing their ‘people close to me will leave me’ cognitions to be true, IT DOES NOT FEEL LIKE IT. The person with the Mistrust/Abuse Schema knows the evidence disputing ‘my Partner will let me down’ is true, again, IT DOES NOT FEEL LIKE IT. It is this that leads to Schemas being largely worked on with affect and imagery. Cognitive disputing on its own will do very little to affect change.


A man showing different emotions

The last point we wish to make and this is often insightful for Practitioners is that the first 7 Schemas are the core Schemas and the remaining 11 can attempt to cope with the first 7. This often confuses Practitioners as the first 7 come from the Disconnection/Rejection domain and the remaining 11 come from other domains. The point is that domain 1 (the disconnection/rejection domain) is the conditions that lead to the formation of core schemas. The remaining 4 domains are the conditions of worth set by the family, classroom or playground for the client to escape the core schema. Still confused, then get in touch and enrol for our next course.

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