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SYMPOSIUM 9 | DAY 2: 10.45 AM - 12.15 PM

Schema Therapy as a 3rd Wave Therapy: Integrating Mindfulness and Acceptance

by Eckhard Roediger, Erwin Parfy, Michiel van Vreeswijk, and Pierre Cousineau

Chairs: Eckhard Roediger and Erwin Parfy


Mindfulness and acceptance play a key role in so called 3rd wave therapies giving conventional CBT a new push. Schema therapy basically way designed as a 2nd wave therapy, but has recently been linked with new perspective and techniques with a meta-cognitive background making schema therapy a 3rd wave treatment. This symposium highlights some of the key aspects how mindfulness and ACT can contribute to the ongoing development of schema therapy. Literature: van Vreeswijk M, Broersen J, Nadort M (eds). Handbook of Schema Therapy. Theory, Research and Practice. New York: Wiley, p.229-282.

Segment 1

Title: Building the Healty Adult. How can the 6 functional ACT processes contribute?

Presenter: Eckhard Roediger

Integrating the conceptual framework and meta-cognitive techniques e.g. taken from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) deepen out understand of Healthy Adult functioning. E.g. the six functional ACT processes support distancing, reappraisal and need- and value-based answers on dysfunctional beliefs and behaviour in a healthy adult way. The help us to develop a clear roadmap of skills enabling or patients to “shift gear” and escape their life-traps. Relevant reading: Roediger E, Stevens B, Brockman R (2018). Contextual Schema Therapy: An Integrative Approach to Personality Disorders, Emotional Dysregulation, and Interpersonal Functioning. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger (in press).

Segment 2

Title: Schema Therapy and ACT: Choreography for a Dance

Presenter: Erwin Parfy

Roots and structures of both approaches are compared and possible pitfalls of misinterpretation of the two concepts are highlighted. A seamless integration into an ongoing therapeutic process in terms of well balanced “dance choreography” is described. Smooth shifts between both genuine perspectives help to broaden the range of our therapeutic options and help dealing with stagnations in treatment. Flexibility is not merely relevant in terms of theoretical stances, but also on a practical level, where different perspectives create new technical tools modifying the therapeutic relationship.

Segment 3

Title: The mindfulness flash card: A tool to mindfully manage emotional activation

Presenters: Pierre Cousineau

Schemas are emotional memories that were first learned in order to adapt to a specific context—later on, they end up being maladaptive in other contexts. Emotional patterns are linked to specific response tendencies, the most primitive being flight, fight or freeze. Neurosciences have shown that this whole process is extremely rapid, in the range of milliseconds. Apart from changing the original emotional memories, there is no way to stop a response tendency once the schema is triggered … but there are ways to slip between the response tendency and the actual response (evaluation is around 300 msec). Mindfulness and ACT strategies are tools that can serve this goal: feeling the affective response and the response tendency without acting on this response tendency. This is the purpose of the Mindfulness Flash Card. But people have often hoped for an even better option, a transformation of those primitive emotional memories and their linked response tendencies, a real schema modification, or a new emotional reaction that wouldn’t trigger the undesired maladaptive action tendency. Well, memory reconsolidation research and clinical experiences have shown this is possible. Coherence Therapy is one application of the Therapeutic Reconsolidation Process (TRP).

Segment 4

Title: The use of mindfulness to be an authentic therapist in Schema Therapy

Presenters: Michiel van Vreeswijk

Limited reparenting is believed to be a major aspect in Schema Therapy. In workshops and in supervision therapists are trained in limited reparenting as part of repairing unhealthy schema's and modes and making sure that unmet needs are met. However limited reparenting can only be powerful when the patient believes the sincerity of the therapist. To be authentic as a person the therapist has oftenly be able to cope with strong emotions and schema- and mode triggering. Mindfulness can be helpful to mentalise what is happening in the interaction, to cope with the situation and respond in a genuine way. In this symposium therapists are encouraged to reflect upon their authenticity and how mindfulness can be of help.

About the Presenters:

Eckhard Roediger

Eckhard Roediger is a neurologist, psychiatrist and psychotherapist, trained in psychodynamic and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Previously, he was the director of a psychosomatic department of a clinic in Berlin. Since 2007, Eckhard has worked in his private practice, and is the Director of the Schema Therapy Training Center in Frankfurt. He has served on the ISST Board since 2008, including as President (2014-2016), and currently as Treasurer. Working on the conceptual background of Schema Therapy and its integration into Cognitive Behavior Therapy, couples therapy and integrating Mindfulness and ACT into Schema Therapy.

Erwin Parfy

Erwin Parfy, Dr.Phil. is a psychologist and psychotherapist, living and working in private practice in Vienna / Austria;  Vice-President and teacher of the Austrian Society for CBT.

Michiel van Vreeswijk

Michiel van Vreeswijk is a Clinical Psychologist, certified as a Schema Therapist and Supervisor with the ISST. He is a certified CBT practitioner and supervisor, and is CEO of Gkracht Psychomedisch Centrum BV in the Netherlands. Michiel has written, edited and authored several books, chapters and articles on Schema Therapy, including editing, and writing several chapters in The Handbook of Schema Therapy, Theory, Research, and Practice (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).

Pierre Cousineau, Ph.D.

Advanced Schema Therapist and Supervisor

Associate Instructor of the Coherence Psychology Institute

Ph.D. from University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada)

Pierre practices psychotherapy for +40 years in Montréal, Canada. He practices Schema Therapy since the mid-90s. He has integrated Mindfulness, ACT, and Coherence Therapy to its Schema Therapy practice. He is doing groups’ and individuals’ supervisions. Heahs given many workshops on Schema Therapy, ACT, and Coherence Therapy – in Canada (mainly), France (regularly), Morocco, Switzerland, Norway. He has published papers and books’ chapters on Schema Therapy. He has supervised the translation and written the Foreword of the French version of “Reinventing your Life” (more than 100,000 copies sold in French speaking countries).

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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