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"Advanced Mode Work"

by David Edwards


Level and Credits:  Advanced, but accessible to those not yet certified who have some background in schema therapy.  Continuing education credits for those already certified.

What the workshop is about

We are all familiar with the basic categories of schema modes:  Child modes, Dysfunctional parent modes, Coping modes (avoidant/detached, overcompensator, surrender), Healthy modes (Healthy Adult and Happy Child).  However, once we get close up with clients’ experiences we quickly encounter states that are not so easy to classify.  

Watch a "Sneak Peak" by Dave Edwards

We find ourselves asking “Is this an Angry Child or an Overcompensator?” or “Is this kind of coping a surrender or overcompensation?”  or “Is this kind of voice a Parent or part of a coping mode?”

We can assess modes using a self-report scale such as the Schema mode inventory (SMI).  However, the SMI only measures modes in broad brushstrokes, and there are several modes it does not measure.  Furthermore, clinically modes need to identified by closely observing the client’s experience and behaviour (Young, Klosko, & Weishaar, 2003, p. 281). 

All this can create confusion which this workshop is designed to address. We will look at mode differentiation, that is how we separate out one mode from another, and how we classify the modes we find. This will include an examination of a range of distinct self-soothing modes and a range of obsessive overcompensators.  We will also look at the tension between a nomothetic approach which looks for general laws and principles and an idiographic approach that looks at the processes that occur within any particular case. We also look at what I call the surface structure versus the deep structure of modes.  We can see often see the surface structure quite quickly  -  a coping mode, an underlying child state, a punitive parent, or example.  But once we begin to work experientially with these modes using imagery and/or chairwork a more complex picture often presents itself – the deep structure of the client’s modes.

Although these theoretical ideas will be presented, the workshop has a strong clinical focus.   It will include several extended presentations of audio extracts from schema therapy sessions.  This will help participants recognize the complexities that emerge from deep experiential work and also understand how to work with them once they have been identified.  These examples will examine such factors as:

  • A developmental perspective on coping modes:  how coping decisions give rise to coping modes, often in early childhood, so that the coping mode is also a child or quite childlike.
  • How modes control access to memory according to the structure and goals of the mode.
  • How Parent voices get recruited by coping modes and so becomes part of them.
  • How, in trauma, the Vulnerable Child becomes fragmented into multiple dissociated child states each with its own memories and unmet needs.
  • How a coping decision can be made to turn the anger of the Angry Child against the self, giving rise to self-hatred.
  • When the client decides to kill off a part of the Child, the dissociation that results, and how to help the client reverse that decision.
  • How to identify self-defeating mode sequences and help clients learn to interrupt them.

Format: Lecture presentation using powerpoint and including extended case examples of schema therapy sessions (with audio).  There will also be some brief experiential exercises that can be done where you sit and don’t involve working in pairs.  For light relief there will be a song or two crafted into a schema therapy frame.

Helpful background reading:  It’s helpful to be familiar with the basics of mode work in schema therapy as presented in any of the basis texts, for example:

Arntz, A., & Jacob, G. (2013). Schema therapy in practice: An introductory guide to the schema mode approach. Chichester,UK: Wiley.

Farrell, J. M., Reiss, N., & Shaw, I. A. (2014). The schema therapy clinician's guide. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Rafaeli, E., Bernstein, D. P. & Young, J.  Schema Therapy (The CBT Distinctive features series). London: Routledge.

Young J.E., Klosko, J. S., & Weishaar, M. E. (2003), Schema therapy: A practitioner’s guide.  New York: Guilford.  Chapter 8.

Objectives: Participants will come away with a more comprehensive and differentiated understanding of the range and nature of schema modes.  They will understand the source of some of the conflicting ideas about modes in the current literature.  They will learn new resources for differentiating modes that they might not otherwise have recognized, and will learn tools for identifying and working with complex mode patterns and structures.




    Why Schema Therapy?

    Schema therapy has been extensively researched to effectively treat a wide variety of typically treatment resistant conditions, including Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Read our summary of the latest research comparing the dramatic results of schema therapy compared to other standard models of psychotherapy.

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