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Schemas versus modes: watch the Plenary Panel at INSPIRE 2016

14 Dec 2016 1:30 PM | Travis Atkinson

"A designer knows he (or she) has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." 

Does Antoine de Saint-Exupery's definition of engineering excellence apply to schema therapy?


"Schemas versus modes: is it really a contest?"

Moderator: Wendy Behary

Presenters: Jeff Young, Joan Farrell, David Bernstein, Jeff Conway and Cathy Flanagan


We know that from its inception the concept of the schema, a deeply entrenched pattern that is experienced cognitively, emotionally, and somatically, has been central to the schema therapy model. However, as the model has evolved, the status of Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMS) has changed, and some would suggest, diminished, as mode work has become a more dominant aspect of schema therapy. This panel discussion will consider the history of the model and EMS, as well as the development of modes and the interaction of EMS and modes. 

It is widely believed and accepted in the schema therapy community that modes have become the best way to understand and treat someone with a characterological disorder. In fact, mode work has promoted meaningful breakthroughs with very challenging cases. However, it has left some to wonder about the value and usefulness of EMS in the treatment room. The question remains: is it therefore still necessary to consider schemas when treating someone, or in fact, have schemas become "out-moded?" This panel intends to grapple with this question. 

One side of the debate contends that EMS remain an essential part of the therapeutic collaboration for schema healing. The other side of the debate will contend that EMS are not as essential as they once were, and therefore should be limited to the assessment phase, while the most important work lies in identifying and addressing mode shifts and mode adaptations. 

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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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