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When The Going Gets Tough:Schema Therapy with Couples. An Introduction into a Module-Based, Strategic Approach 

by Eckhard Roediger, Matias Valente, Eva Frank-Noyon & Julia Hinrichs


Based on the content of the book "Schema therapy with couples" (DiFrancesco, C., Roediger, E., & Stevens, B. (2015). Oxford-New York: Wiley) we developed a module based, strategic approach to work with couples in very straight-forward and effective way. We will start with a brief summary of the basics of Schema therapy for couples (ST-C) and introduce the 12 ST-C modules. We will demonstrate how to work with multiple chairs to identify activated modes and re-balance into a healthy adult mode again. Then we will show a video of an imagery rescripting session with a couples and outline details of this technique. Finally we present the results of a small-scale RCT comparing the effects of a ST-based cognitive intervention and conjoint imagery rescripting sessions. We will briefly show how the mode-cycle model can be applied to therapist-client relations too.

- Eckhard Roediger: Introducing the Module system for couples therapy

- Matias Valente: Chair dialogues in couples therapy

- Eva Frank-Noyon: Conjoint imagery in couples therapy

- Julia Hinrichs: Comparing imagery and cognitive interventions in couples therapy: A cross-over randomized trial.

Target Audience:

All therapists interested in understanding, how interpersonal interaction patterns (so called mode cycles) work, can be identified and changed in a goal-directed and easy-to-apply way.

Learning Objectives:

The goal of this skill class is to make the participants familiar with an interpersonal perspective in schema therapy, the mode cycle concept, need imbalances in dysfunctional mode cycles can be revealed and strategically re-balance in chair dialogues. Participants learn how imagery rescripting can be applied on couples to induce emotional reconnection. Finally we support participants to identify their default coping and underlying child modes.

Level of Experienced Required:


A hallmark for personality-disordered clients is the difficulty in forming stable intimate relationships. Emotional intimacy may be perceived as unsafe and reparenting attempts in therapy may trigger dysfunctional schema-mode cycles. Bypassing rigid coping modes with empathic confrontation is an art by itself, but once accomplished a dysfunctional parent mode may "kick in". The therapist then has to shift into setting limits to the parent mode to protect the vulnerable child. Once the parent mode is put in place, the therapist has to shift stance again, this time into a reparenting mode to heal the vulnerable child. Shifting stances back and forth like this is a challenging endeavor. If performed well it will help strengthen the client's healthy adult by fostering inner-connection and self-assertiveness, as well as being a pivotal corrective emotional experience for the client's difficulties with intimacy.

In this skill class participants will be presented with a step-by-step rational for how to conceptualize dysfunctional schema-mode cycles within the therapy relationship. Case vignettes will be presented and role-plays. The class aims to help schema therapists deepen their limited reparenting skills by focusing on how to handle the full scope of schema-mode processes as they evolve during reparenting attempts when working with complex cases.

Level of Experience Required for Participants: 

Intermediate (Participants have had basic Schema Therapy Training)

About the Presenters:

Eckhard Roediger

Eckhard Roediger (MD), born 1959, Neurologist, Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist. Trained in psychodynamic and Cognitive-Behavior therapy. Formerly Director of a Psychosomatic Department of a clinic in Berlin (GER), since 2007 working in Private Practice and Director of the Schema Therapy Training Center in Frankfurt (GER). Past-president and honorary member of the ISST. Working on the conceptual background of ST and its integration into CBT, Couples therapy and integrating Mindfulness and ACT into ST.

Matias Valente

Born 1979, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist. Trained in psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral therapy (ACT, DBT, BA). Trained in Schema Therapy by Eckhard Roediger 2005-2009. Advanced schema therapist and trainer since 2010. Since 2014 director of the Schema Therapy Training Center in Stuttgart (GER), formerly head psychologist at the psychosomatic department of the psychiatric hospital in Weinsberg (GER). Research-Area: ST with inpatients. Since 2018 working in private practice. Specialized in treating severe personality disorders and trauma-associated disorders in both inpatients and outpatient settings, working with ST, DBT, CBT and ACT. 

Eva Frank-Noyon

Coming soon

Julia Hinrichs

Coming soon

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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