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10.30 AM - 12.00 PM 

Trauma Map to Enhance Schema Conceptualization

by Chris Lee


Schema case formulation can be enhanced by using concepts from information processing models of trauma. In this workshop a therapy tool based on these approaches, the trauma map, is presented. The tool has evolved over the years and was recently a pivotal part of assessment and formulation in the IREM study, an international RCT that focused on treating childhood PTSD memories in adults. The trauma map operates as a framework for patient and therapist to understand the impact of trauma on many areas of the patient’s life and sense of self (their schemas, their coping strategies and their current struggles). The map illustrates why the patient is affected as deeply and pervasively as they are and why their schemas continue to be triggered and perpetuated in their current life. It also makes sense of how imagery re-scripting or EMDR can help to heal the patient’s schemas in a containing and purposeful manner, allowing both patient and therapist to feel more courageous in their endeavours to face rather than avoid painful and distressing memories. In imagery re-scripting, initially the therapist and later the patient, have the opportunity to give the traumatised child what they needed but never had, and as such, start a process of much needed schema healing. The map then allows the therapist and patient to re-group after each re-scripting and for the patient to integrate emotionally corrective experiences into a broader understanding of themselves and their schemas. Once key developmental experiences have been treated the patient is less likely to be triggered and has a stronger internalised healthy adult to meet their needs in everyday life. The workshop will involve presentation of the relevant theory, a demonstration and then practise in pairs.

Target Audience:

Very relevant for people who work with adults who have PTSD from childhood experiences. Also useful for therapists looking for tools to enhance the assessment of key experiences that are etiologically relevant to early maladaptive schemas

Learning Objectives:

Learn how information processing models of trauma are related to schema theory Observe a demonstration of constructing trauma maps in an initial session with a client Practise constructing a trauma

Level of Experience Required:


About the Presenter:

Chris Lee

Associate Professor Christopher Lee works in private practice and has an adjunct appointment at the University of Western Australia. He is a certified trainer by both the international society of schema therapists and the EMDR international association. He conducts therapist training workshops on schema therapy and trauma treatments throughout Australia and overseas. He has published research on personality disorders, the assessment of schemas, and PTSD. He has received two International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and EMDRIA awards for research excellence the first in 1999 and the most recent in 2019. In 2009 he also received the Inaugural Francine Shapiro award for research excellence conferred by the European EMDRIA. He was the 2011 recipient of the Australian Psychological Society’s Ian Campbell memorial award for contributions as a scientist-practitioner to Clinical Psychology in Australia. He is currently a principle investigator in two international multi-centred randomized controlled trials, one in treating complex PTSD and the other using schema therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder. A recent picture is attached as is a brief CV relevant to the topic.

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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