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Exclusive: Read July's Schema Therapy Bulletin.

27 Jul 2018 4:00 PM | Travis Atkinson
Read about the four dialogue matrix, schema therapy with families, and autism spectrum conditions.
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Read the latest Schema Therapy Bulletin, exclusively available to active ISST members enrolled on the website. Not yet enrolled? Tap: ENROLL Not yet a member? Tap: JOIN US

In 2006, Stockholm hosted the 1st International Society of SchemaTherapy Conference. Approximately 56 people attended the event which​ established the inner workings of the International Society of Schema Therapy (ISST). The exponential growth in both interest and application of the Schema Therapy model, demonstrated by the attendance of 1150 clinicians, researchers, trainers and students from 49 countries at​ INSPIRE 2018 in Amsterdam​, is ​astounding​ and gratifying​. 

The ​conference theme “Corrective Emotional Experiences: How Schema Therapy Transforms Lives,” was ​well met with enthusiasm by those who were fortunate enough to attend. To those who ​practice schema therapy in geographically isolated regions, from regions where there is less exposure to the schema model, or in workplaces where other treatment modalities are dominant, the event itself was a corrective emotional experience. It ​provided an opportunity to meet others with similar therapeutic views, to share ideas collaboratively and to feel connected to a group of like-minded individuals; ​confirming that ​you ​are not the only practitioner of Schema Therapy!

For many ISST members​,​ ​the cost of ​attending such events can be prohibitive​ due to limitations in time and financial resources​. For those members who were unable to attend the Amsterdam conference, we hope in the coming editions of the Schema Therapy Bulletin to bring you contributions and presentations from the event. Furthermore, in the coming months the Schema Therapy Webinar Series will be made available, featuring 90 minute specialist schema therapy webinars (many of which presented in Amsterdam and other ISST events). 

While many of our members were preparing their presentations of the Amsterdam conference, others took the time to write articles sharing new and interesting approaches to Schema Therapy.

In ​the current issue, Scott Kellogg (USA) discusses the application of chair-work​ in schema therapy and describes a framework for understanding and​organizing mode dialogues​, and ​offers ​a variety of chair work opportunities​.

Rachel Samson (Australia) discusses the use of Schema Therapy within a family based approach  exploring a case study of an adolescent and her family the exploring effect of temperament and attachment in the treatment.

Finally, Erin Bulluss (A​u​stralia) describes the use of Schema Therapy with those with Autistic Spectrum Conditions, describing ​ways to work with the​ Schema Therapy model to accommodate​ the ​neurodevelopment aspects of the condition.

We continue to call for contributions for upcoming issues of the Schema Therapy Bulletin. If you have an article or want to propose a contribution please make contact.

Lissa Parsonnet (USA) &
Chris Hayes (Australia)


Transformational Chairwork: The Four Dialogue Matrix
Scott Kellogg, PhD. New York, USA

A central irony of Chairwork is that Chairwork has nothing to do with chairs.  Chairwork is based on the belief that there is a healing and transformative power in (1) giving voice to one’s inner parts, modes, or selves, and in (2) enacting or re-enacting scenes from the past, the present, or the future.  

In light of the many different strategies that have been developed to achieve these goals, one of my central projects has been to distill this method down to its essential dialogical components in hope that these can then be used as building blocks in the therapeutic encounter.  To this end, I have counterbalanced the polarity of using one chair (I) or two chairs (II) with the polarity of having an internal dialogue (I) or an external dialogue (E).  The result has been the creation of the Four Dialogue Matrix


When a Duck is Raising a Swan: Temperament and Attachment in Schema Therapy with Families
Rachel Samson, Clinical Psychologist, Adelaide Australia

15-year-old Sarah and her mother, Ann, initially presented in crisis. Sarah’s boyfriend had broken-up with her and she had become highly distressed and dysregulated in response; lashing out verbally and physically at her mother, refusing school, and threatening suicide. Sarah’s mother and father were overwhelmed and had both taken leave from work to stay at home with Sarah due to concerns about her safety. Sarah attended the hospital on several occasions for psychiatric review and police and paramedic attendance had been required at the family home during episodes of heightened distress, intense conflict, and aggression. The family reported that previous psychiatric and psychological intervention had not been helpful and that Sarah had been reluctant to engage. The dyad was referred to me by a colleague for family-based Schema Therapy.


Schema Therapy and the Autism Spectrum: The importance of modifying the Schema Therapy conceptual framework to counter neuro-normative assumptions when  working with neurodiverse populations
Erin K. Bulluss, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Centre for Schema Therapy Australia, Adelaide, South Australia


Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASCs) refer to a set of lifelong, neurodevelopmental syndromes with a prevalence of 1% across age groups (Lai & Baron-Cohen, 2015). People with an ASC may refer to themselves as being autistic, on the autism spectrum, neurodiverse (plural) or neurodivergent (singular)- as opposed to allistic or neurotypical- in recognition of their fundamental neurodevelopmental differences from the majority of the population. These neurodevelopmental differences are not inherently pathological, nor have they developed as a result of experiences during infancy or childhood, they are simply intrinsic differences from the majority of the population.

Being in the minority, individuals on the autism spectrum often experience an environmental mismatch, whereby the environment is shaped to meet the needs of the neurotypical majority and does not adequately meet the needs of the neurodivergent individual. For example, a recent meta-synthesis by Williams and colleagues (2017) found that mainstream school environments greatly impact the manner in which children with ASCs view their differences from the neurotypical majority. It seems most children in the studies experienced school environments that were not inclusive and accepting of neurodiversity, and thus interpreted their differences from typically developing peers as negative. This meta-synthesis identified that these children also appeared to have internalised the negative comments made by others, and referred to themselves with terms like weird, freak, mentally disabled, and having a bad brain.

On the other hand, there was a small proportion of children with ASC who viewed their differences positively, and while there was not sufficient information to fully understand how these children had made sense of themselves in such different ways, it seemed supportive peers, accessible classroom environments, and flexible platforms for learning and socialising contributed to this difference in self-perception. 


The Schema Therapy Bulletin is edited by Lissa Parsonnet and Chris Hayes.
This template was created by Travis Atkinson.
Copyright © 2018 International Society of Schema Therapy, All rights reserved.

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