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2.15 PM - 3.45 PM

Hot Topics: Session 3 

A Qualitative Survey: Schema Therapist's Perceptions of the Influence of their Early Maladaptive Schemas and Modes on Therapy

by Pam Pilkington


This qualitative survey aimed to explore schema therapists’ perceptions of how their early maladaptive schemas are activated in their therapeutic work, and how they manage their reactions. Therapists described several negative impacts, including avoiding limit setting, becoming argumentative or aggressive, detaching or avoiding, and over-functioning. An array of strategies for managing schema and countertransference reactions were identified, including refocusing on the client’s vulnerability, caring for one’s own vulnerability and connecting with one’s healthy adult self, and engaging in supervision, training, personal therapy, and self-care. Notably, several participants described how their internal reactions can be used advantageously to conceptualize and support clients, and to facilitate therapists’ personal development. The findings highlighted that although schema and associated countertransference experiences can be challenging, awareness and effective management of therapists’ reactions can benefit treatment and promote personal growth.

About the Presenter:

Dr. Pam Pilkington

Dr. Pam Pilkington is an Advanced Schema Therapist (Individual) and Clinical Psychologist working in private practice in Melbourne, Australia since the completion of her PhD in 2016. In addition to clinical work, Pam enjoys engaging in research, and teaching postgraduate psychology students at the Australian Catholic University. For the past 10 years, Pam has contributed to research on parenting, childhood experiences, and the prevention and treatment of mental illness. Since late 2020, Pam has contributed to 10 journal articles relating to schema therapy and is interested in advancing the evidence base supporting our clinical work.

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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