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How to do it? Empathic Confrontation and creating corrective emotional experiences

by Remco van der Wijngaart & Hannie Van Genderen


The essential goal in schema therapy is to validate unmet needs in our patients in order to create corrective emotional experiences. These unmet needs are best felt when the client in is the mode of the Vulnerable Child. Indeed, research has shown that changes in the Child modes and the Healthy Adult mod are the best predictors for a positive therapy outcome (Arntz, A, 2019, presentation at the Dutch Society for Schema Therapy). In schema therapy therefore, the aim for every session is to connect to this emotional side of the client. Many clients, however, developed survival strategies that make it difficult for the therapist to connect to the emotional side of them. For example, behaviour patterns of avoidance or overcompensating patterns of clients that were functional in the past may now cause irritation and frustration to the therapist. In those situations, good care requires therapeutic skills to empathically confront the client. Many schema therapists find this form of limited reparenting much more difficult than the warm, understanding attitude and active support. Therefore, the first learning objective of this skill class is to refine their skills for empathic confrontation.

But even if we as therapists are able to empathically confront the client and by doing so, are able to connect to the emotional side of the client, how do we then create a corrective emotional experience? What do you say to a client that sits in tears in front of you? Words like ‘I’m sorry you suffer so much..’ might feel insignificant when the client, in despair, says: ‘How does this help me?’ What is the benefit for a client of letting go of the protective side when that client then is overwhelmed by emotional pain? The second learning objective of this skill class is therefore learn how to create a corrective emotional experience when the client in is the Child mode.

In a positive and safe atmosphere, participants will acquire a more in depth knowledge and skills in empathic confrontation and creating corrective emotional experiences in child modes. Through introductions and demonstrations, these therapeutic skills that may be considered to be essential in schema therapy will be practiced.

Learning Objectives:

  • Refining skills for empathic confrontation
  • Apply these skills in some challenging situations we sometimes encounter as therapists
  • Learning to create a corrective emotional experience when the client in is a child mode
  • Help developing an emotional awareness of these experiences
  • Have a fun and pleasurable learning experience in joining this skill class

Workshop Intended For:
Beginning and advanced schema therapists

About the Presenters:

Remco van der Wijngaart 

Remco van der Wijngaart is a psychotherapist and healthcare psychologist. For over 20 years he worked in the academic department of an outpatient mental health institution. As a therapist he participated in numerous treatment studies into anxiety, somatic symptom and eating disorders, as well as personality disorders. In a first treatment study into the effectiveness of schema therapy for borderline personality disorder, he was trained and supervised in imagery rescripting by Jeffrey Young, the founder of schema therapy. Remco has his own independent practice for psychotherapy in Maastricht. Together with others, he developed various audio-visual productions including Fine Tuning Imagery Rescripting; 35 scenes showing imagery rescripting in all its facets.

Hannie Van Genderen

Hannie van Genderen is a clinical psychologist, supervisor and trainer of cognitive behavioral therapy and schema therapy. She works for Virenze Riagg in Maastricht and in addition she has been the owner of ‘Van Genderen Opleidingen’ since 2000.

Since 1987, Hannie has been involved in the scientific research of Maastricht University in the field of the treatment of a wide range of mental disorders. From the beginning in 1996, she has been involved in the introduction of (schematic) psychotherapy for personality disorders in the Netherlands. She was trained there by J. Young, A. Beck and C. Padesky. For the past 5 years, Farrell & Shaw's Scheme Group Therapy has been added. Hannie was one of the founders of the Schedule Therapy Register and the ISST (International Society of Schedule Therapy) and has held administrative positions for both organizations. She is currently the Research, Development & Education Coordinator of Virenze Riagg.

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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