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5.00 PM - 6.30 PM

Hot Topics: Session 3

Self-Sacrifice in the Therapist and its affect on Emotion Recognition in Patients

by Andrew Phipps


Previous investigations have shown that ‘self-sacrifice’ and ‘unrelenting standards’ schemas are frequently endorsed by therapists of varying levels of experience (e.g., Kaeding et. al., 2017). Since one of the behavioural correlates of the self-sacrifice schema is the ability to quickly discover the needs of others, and attend to those needs (Arntz and Jacob, 2012), it may actually be a prerequisite for successful Schema Therapy.

The researchers explored common schemas in a population of postgraduate Clinical Psychology Trainees and Undergraduate Psychology students. In keeping with previous findings, unrelenting standards and self-sacrifice were highly endorsed.

The researchers also investigated the participants sensitivity to common emotions (Sadness, Anger and Fear) expressed by clients. Participants observed short excerpts of Schema Therapy training videos and rated the extent to which they believed the ‘patient’ was expressing these target emotions.                                            

The study found that while emotion recognition for more overt displays of anger, sadness or fear, was not affected by higher endorsement of self-sacrifice, a positive correlation was found between self-sacrifice and the recognition of subtle emotion. The study seems to suggest that higher degrees of self-sacrifice relate to an increased tendency to perceive emotional distress in others.  Implications for the therapeutic relationship is discussed. 


Andrew Phipps, Naiha Seepaul, Emily Roohlet, and Craig Gonsalvez

About the Presenter:

Andrew Phipps

Andrew is a Clinical Psychologist and Advanced Schema Therapist/Trainer from Sydney, Australia. Andrew has 20-years of clinical experience, spending most of his career in public mental health settings. He spent some recent years as an academic at Western Sydney University. He now works entirely in private practice. He continues to work as a consultant for several mental health services in Sydney. Andrew maintains a teaching role at the University of New South Wales and conducts accredited schema therapy training and supervision across Australia. In addition to his work in the schema therapy space, he has published in the field of early intervention for trauma, self-help treatment for depression, and clinical outcomes in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).

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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