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JUNE 24 - 26, 2021 / WORLDWIDE




SEGMENT 2: 10.00 - 11.30


The Use of Play to Deepen the Therapeutic Relationship and Tackle Shame in Cluster C Patients

with Saskia Ohlin, Ruth McCutcheon, Wiesette Krol and Rosi Reubsaet



A parent and child when they are both engrossed in play creates a unique and intimate bond; when replicated in the therapeutic alliance this can be profound in creating meaningful change.

The capacity to experience joy, like other needs, requires learning and needs to be shared and stimulated.  Play is especially significant for Cluster C clients who have been starved of spontaneity and fun, to give these clients an experience of feeling cherished.  Moreover, for these clients who have learnt to fear criticism and rejection by avoiding intimacy, play, as a way of relating, enables a unique way of connecting to create a place of safety.

Common parenting styles which cluster C clients were exposed to as children are generally not conducive for play and joy. Parents of cluster C clients are likely to be emotionally neglectful, e.g. they might never play with the child and they might think of play as something non-productive When parents judge play as foolish, a child can accept these evaluations and feel inferior contributing to a sense of defectiveness.  Thus, the tendency to feel shame as painful and undesirable is especially associated with Cluster C PD symptoms (Schoenleber & Berenbaum, 2010).  These experiences of being belittled by parents are important to unlock, to get in touch with anger and hurt and heal the wounds via connection with the playful child.

Play is essential in the emotional, cognitive, social, physical and moral development of children. Joyful play is a way to feel connected with others. Developmentally, play for the young child is characterized by the freedom of personally imposed rules, by freewheeling fantasy involvement and an absence of goals (Bettelheim,1987).  Play offers a safe place of disorientation, where the child learns that s/he can master his anxiety by seeing the merriment of others.

The positive effects of joy and playfulness are often under-utilised by therapists.  We have found that accessing a playful child mode can be a vital way to counteract feeling bad, as through play we can feel special and unique, loved and accepted.

This workshop will be highly experiential. We will demonstrate role plays, imagery and other experiential exercises for schema therapists to use the playful/exuberant child mode to tackle shame in cluster C and to deepen the connection with the client.  This will include techniques such as use of body work to connect lightness and warmth of play with the Healthy Adult and use of creative tools to access play.  Further, we will focus upon shame in the therapist via accessing their own playful child mode. In addition, we will explore how the therapist can model for the client how to be in the playful child mode to deepen the connection with the client. 

About the Presenters

Saskia Ohlin

Saskia Ohlin is a chartered Counselling Psychologist originally from the Netherlands, working in London, UK.  She currently works in private practice focusing on schema therapy for patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD), Cluster C personality disorders, along with anxiety disorders and depression. 

For over 20 years, Saskia has worked in primary and secondary care in out - and inpatient settings. She has wide clinical expertise in treating complex trauma and personality disorders, particularly borderline personality disorder.

Together with Ruth, they head the Academy of Schema Therapy in London, UK providing courses and accreditation programs in schema therapy. Saskia also works in collaboration with the Academie voor Schematherapie in the Netherlands.

Ruth McCutcheon

Ruth McCutcheon is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist with advanced level accreditation in Schema Therapy for individuals and couples with the International Society for Schema Therapy.  She is a co-director, supervisor and trainer with the Academy of Schema Therapy and works in collaboration with the Academie voor Schematherapie in the Netherlands. 

Ruth has fifteen years of experience working in NHS healthcare, including primary and secondary care, in addition to inpatient forensic settings.  She works as a therapist and supervisor addressing a range of psychological issues, including chronic depression, relationship difficulties, complex trauma and personality disorders. 

Practicing individual and couples’ therapy modalities, Ruth works with both adult and adolescent populations.  She is also a visiting lecturer at a number of London-based universities where she provides schema therapy workshops.

Wiesette Krol

Wiesette Krol is a clinical psychologist, CBT supervisor and Schema Therapist Trainer/ Supervisor.

In 1991 she started working as a psychotherapist (in training) in an academic setting (together with Arnoud Arntz and Hannie van Genderen), participated in research treating anxiety and eating disorders with CBT and also personality disorders with Schema Therapy. She has been trained and supervised by Jeffrey Young in individual Schema Therapy and in Group Schema therapy by Ida Shaw and Joan Farrell.

In the last 20 years she works with schema therapy, treating personality disorders (cluster B and C), individual and in groups, ambulant and in day treatment. She worked for 8 years as the head of the department of personality and developmental disorders at the RIAGG Maastricht.

At the moment she is working at the Academic Hospital (MUMC+) in Maastricht as manager and clinical psychologist. Since 1994 she has been teaching

 Schema therapy


 Supervision

She trained Schema Therapy in different countries in Europe. Since the foundation in 2007, she is a senior member of the Dutch Schema Therapy Society and has an Advanced Certification membership with the ISST since 2008. She had a private practice for supervision and psychotherapy for professionals. 

Rosi Reubsaet

Rosi Reubsaet is a clinical psychologist, schema therapy supervisor and behavioural and cognitive therapy supervisor. She is the co-founder of the House for Schema Therapy, a mental health care facility in the Netherlands where, together with colleagues, she treats people with personality disorders with schema therapy. With the same colleagues she also runs the Academy for Schema Therapy, an institution for delivering training and supervision in schema therapy. Rosi gives workshops and training courses around the world, and she is a board member of the personality disorders division of the Dutch Association for Behavioral and Cognitive therapy. She is author of the book “Schema Therapy – A Phase-Oriented ApproachTargeting Tasks and Techniques in Individual and Group Schema Therapy” (2021).  


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