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Deliberate Practice for Schema Therapy:

An Innovative Method for Training Students and Clinicians


by Wendy Behary & Joan Farrell

The Deliberate Practice (DP) movement in psychotherapy training aims to create and fortify the mastery of clinical applications through the consistent practice of micro skills, accompanied by feedback.  This is an already established and well-respected approach in areas such as, mastering a musical instrument, athletic performance, public speaking, and more.  But this is new for psychotherapy and has extraordinary relevance for cultivating competence and excellence in Schema Therapy performance.

For the last year we have had the pleasure to work with the founders of Deliberate Practice – Tony Rousmaniere and Alexandre Vaz – to write the Deliberate Practice of Schema Therapy Workbook.  This required that we identify twelve core micro skills of Schema Therapy (ST) and develop numerous practice exercises that would include client and therapist statements for each skill. The exercises, while intended for graduate students, are applicable to therapists who are new to Schema Therapy, assisting them in learning Schema Therapy basic skills— including the therapy relationship.

We will highlight and demonstrate the Deliberate Practice approach for therapy relationship skills in keeping with the theme of the conference. Given our mutual involvement, interest, and passion for training, for the development of training curriculum and ISST standards, and for maintaining the integrity of the model and effective treatment outcomes, we have come to realize and appreciate the potential of the Deliberate Practice method for Schema Therapy and for the ISST community.

We are enthusiastic about the innovation of this method, which includes routine collection of therapy outcome feedback in clinical settings. Another remarkable innovation in the Deliberate Practice for Schema Therapy workbook is that every exercise has been tested by therapists (including many from our own training programs and our global community) with videotapes, that we’ve observed, and feedback illustrating the utility of the deliberate practice of clinical micro skills. 

About the Presenters:

Wendy Behary, LCSW

With 25+ years of professional experience and advanced level certifications, Wendy Behary is the founder and director of The Cognitive Therapy Center of New Jersey and The Schema Therapy Institutes of NJ-NYC-DC. She has been treating clients, training professionals and supervising psychotherapists for more than 20 years. Wendy was on the faculty of the Cognitive Therapy Center and Schema Therapy Institute of New York (until the Institutes merged in 2012), where she trained and worked with Dr. Jeffrey Young since 1989. She is a founding fellow and consulting supervisor for The Academy of Cognitive Therapy (Aaron T. Beck’s Institute).  Wendy served as the President of the Executive Board of the International Society of Schema Therapy (ISST) from 2010-2014 and served as the Training and Certification Coordinator for the ISST Executive Board from 2008-2010. She is currently the chair of the Schema Therapy Development Programs Sub-Committee for the ISST.

Wendy Behary has co-authored several chapters and articles on Schema Therapy and Cognitive Therapy. She is the author of an international bestselling book, "Disarming the Narcissist...”  translated in 15 languages. The Third Edition was released on October 1, 2021.  Wendy has a specialty in treating narcissists and the people who live with and deal with them. As an author and an expert on the subject of narcissism, she is a contributing chapter author of several chapters on schema therapy for narcissism for professional readers. She lectures both nationally and internationally to professional and general audiences on schema therapy, narcissism, interpersonal relationships, anger, and dealing with difficult people. She receives consistent high praise for her clear and articulate teaching style and her ability to bring the therapy to life through dramatic demonstrations of client interactions in the treatment room.

Her work industry business speaking engagements focus on interpersonal conflict resolution. Her private practice is primarily devoted to treating narcissists, partners/people dealing with them, and couples experiencing relationship problems.

Joan Farrell, Ph.D

Joan is a licensed clinical psychologist and an advanced level Schema Therapist and Trainer/Supervisor. She co-directs the Schema Therapy Institute Midwest-Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Center specializes in Group Schema therapy. Joan is an Adjunct Professor in Clinical Psychology at Purdue University (IUPUI) and was clinical faculty at Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) for 25 years. She is Research and Training director of the IUSM/Eskenazi Community Mental Health Center for Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment & Research. She was the elected Executive Board Member, Coordinator for Training & Certification of the International Society for Schema Therapy (ISST) 2012-2018 and currently chairs the ISST Training Program and Trainer Development Committee. She has written three books with Ida Shaw on ST and published a DVD series Group Schema Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder.

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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