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Conference Day 2: Early Afternoon Selections 2:30 - 4:00

"schema therapy and positive clinical psychology: from maladaptive to adaptive functioning" 

 symposium by george lockwood, john louis & alex wood 

Schema Therapy has incorporated more affirming and positive elements than many other therapeutic approaches and, as such, has potential for being an evidence based integrative influence across the fields of positive and clinical psychology. Whilst this is increasingly recognized within the literature, the early bias of clinical psychology’s focus on problems has remained. This is reflected in an exclusive focus on maladaptive schemas and maladaptive forms of parenting and, within the Young Parenting Inventory and Young Schema Questionnaire, on the assessment of dysfunction. The panel of speakers from diverse backgrounds presents recent theoretical and empirical developments to Schema Therapy that include Adaptive Schemas and Adaptive Parenting Styles, at both the individual schema and mode level. In Talk 1, a theoretical justification is provided for the 18 Maladaptive Schemas to be re-conceptualized as full continua from maladaptive to adaptive. Modes are reconsidered in light of this new, fuller conceptualization. Talk 2 provides the first public presentation of the results of a major empirical project to develop two new scales: The YAMPI (Young Adaptive/Maladaptive Parenting Inventory: A measure of both adaptive and maladaptive patterns of parenting) and the YAMSQ (Young Adaptive/Maladaptive Questionnaire: A measure of both adaptive and maladaptive schemas). The talk considers both the psychometrics of the sub-scales of each measure and how they respectively combine to form modes. In Talk 3, the originator of Positive Clinical Psychology presents new empirical evidence that mental health, in general, lies on a continuum from maladaptive to adaptive and talks about how the new developments in Schema Therapy in the first two talks fit within the wider PCP movement.

Chairperson: George Lockwood


A historical overview of this line of investigation will be provided that includes the broader developments within the field of positive and humanistic psychology and the important role that Schema Therapy can play in future developments. It presents the substantial advances upon the speaker’s two chapters in the Wiley Handbook of Schema therapy that have been made in the last four years. The integrative and transdiagnostic power of mode work and the mode model as they relate to the fields of positive and clinical psychology will be discussed. The incremental gain provided by the fuller understanding of modes that is afforded by the addition of early adaptive schema and adaptive parenting style constructs and their associated continua will be examined. Further differentiation amongst Healthy Adult and Happy Child Modes associated with different forms of adaptation will be examined and their implications for Schema Therapy and Schema Therapy supervision overviewed. The value of a corresponding set of instruments to assess these constructs for both clinical work and research will be presented. This will be followed by a discussion of the therapeutic implications of a greater focus on adaptive functioning and the development of well-being.


Objectives/Background: This talk reports on the empirical development and psychometrics of two new scales that allow researchers and practitioners to answer the first speaker’s call to examine the full continuum from adaptive to maladaptive functioning with respect to schemas (The Young Adaptive/Maladaptive Schema Questionnaire: The YAMSQ) and patterns of parenting (the Young Adaptive/Maladaptive Parenting Inventory: The YAMPI). The research was supervised by the third speaker, whom has published on conducting optimum psychometric development.

Method: Additional items for the Young Schema Questionnaire and Young Parenting Inventory were produced in collaboration with Jeffrey Young which together with the items from the original inventories comprised the item pools for both new scales. A questionnaire was produced comprising these item pools in addition to well validated measures covering: The 30 Big Five facets, stress, general anxiety, social anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive symptoms, schizotypy, psychological (eudemonic) well-being, physical health, sleep quality, life satisfaction, coping styles, gratitude, hope, optimism, social desirability, and several measures of parenting. Over 2,000 participants completed either the schema or parenting item pool (n > 1,000 for each) and a selection of the other measures in a pre-planned order (n > 200 for each).

Results and Conclusion: Detailed exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses are presented from which the final items of the new questionnaires were chosen, for which he presents internal consistency estimates, convergent validity with similar measures, discriminant validity from social desirability, and incremental validity over similar constructs. This talk is the first presentation of these new scales.


Professor Wood is credited with the development of the increasingly influential Positive Clinical Psychology approach, through his special issue of Clinical Psychology Review, forthcoming Wiley Handbook of Positive Clinical Psychology, and over 100 publications in this area. New to the Schema Therapy community, he explains why he has embraced the approach, demonstrates the compatibility with the Positive Clinical Psychology, and outlines how Schema Therapists can use the movement to spread their approach to new audiences and access new client groups. He overviews his program of work that lead to the development of the approach and presents new data showing that mental health exists on a continuum from maladaptive to adaptive, drawing links with the work of the first two speakers and making conceptual links with the model of adaptive to maladaptive schemas and parenting styles. His results are based on an analysis of measures of anxiety, calmness, depression, and happiness completed by over 5,000 participants in population representative samples. Factor analytical results are presented to show that there are two continua: Anxiety to calmness and depression to “happiness”. Further, he shows that both continua are linearly predictive of future risk of substance misuse, conduct disorders, and other mental health problems thus, irrespective of where people are on the continua, becoming calmer or happier decreases people’s risk of psychopathology. These findings are discussed in the context of when to stop Schema Therapy with a given client and the potential use of the maladaptive to adaptive schemas and parenting model to widen the client groups reached by schema therapists to include those currently only helped by unaccredited positive psychologists.

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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