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Member Exclusive: Read December's Schema Therapy Bulletin.

17 Dec 2018 11:39 AM | Travis Atkinson (Administrator)

Read about Schema Therapy and Dreams; Parental Alienation Syndrome; Secure Nest; Narcissism, Shame and Intimacy
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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

Schema Therapy is an evolving model due largely to our members’ creativity, courage, thoughtfulness, insight, and commitment to helping clients. These traits are highly evident in the work of the authors contributing to this edition of the Schema Therapy Bulletin.

In this issue, Lynda Parry provides a history of the use of dreams in psychotherapy, and then discusses her use of dreams to access the Vulnerable Child Mode in therapy. Her article thoughtfully explores key questions including the degree to which such work could accelerate symptom reduction while ignoring underlying causes, particularly in the case of complex trauma; by “manipulating” dreams are we “short circuiting” some of the work the brain needs to do to process information and function optimally; and by working with dreams could we underuse the therapeutic relationship in ways that may prevent growth and healing or are therapeutic dysfunctions inevitable and their repair an aid to healing? Parry provides an important overview of sleep and dream stages, outlines the history of dream work in CBT, and the importance of timing in working with clients’ dreams.

Lisa Elizabeth Irvine provides a Schema Therapy perspective on Parental Alienation Syndrome, a problem particularly relevant to clinicians working with children of divorce.  She conceptualizes the triangulation that can occur in these situations as the wounded parent compensating for feelings of defectiveness and shame, and to escape the Vulnerable Child Mode by engaging in overcompensating modes, which have the effect of enlisting the children to protect the wounded parent, thus alienating the other parent, now seen as a perpetrator, or Punitive Parent. This creates a paradigm of victim, perpetrator and rescuer, with the children co-opted to serve the needs of the alienating parent. Irvine elaborates on the challenges, both clinical and ethical in working with this dynamic. 

Wendy Behary and Liz Lacy provide an overview of their presentation in Amsterdam discussing, “Narcissism, Shame and Intimacy: Dealing with the Unmet Needs of the Narcissist." Behary and Lacy describe the thrill seeking self-soothing detachment that many narcissists seek through sexual exploits. They make the distinction between sexualized efforts to evade feelings of defectiveness and shame, and true intimacy, which could actually heel those feelings. Schema Therapy approaches to workings with this population are described, with an emphasis on knowing and coping well with one’s own schemas.

Finally, Sally Skewes provides an introduction and overview of “Secure Nest,” a self-education “e-health” tool” developed to help people assess and understand their own schemas and modes, and recognize their triggers.

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) 


Schema Therapy and Dreams: Accessing the Vulnerable Child
by Lynda Parry, Clinical Psychologist, Australia.


In his book The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) Freud heralded dreams as the royal road to the unconscious. Now almost 130 years later we know that the highway of dreams is in fact a two-way street. Lived experience influences dreams and dreams, even when they are not remembered, influence our waking experience. Research into dreams and sleep reveal exciting results and have led to new ways to work with patients’ dreams. This knowledge changes how we conduct therapy using dreams. Patients usually report enjoying dream work and consistently rate working alliance, insight and session quality significantly higher when dreams are included in therapy sessions (Wonnel & Hill, 2000). 


Seeing Parental Alienation Syndrome Through the Lens of Schema Therapy: Proposals for Treatment
by Lisa Elizabeth Irvine, Clinical Psychologist, Australia. 

Psychologists working in the field of family law and high-conflict divorce are often exposed to the family-based attachment pathology known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). PAS is a subversive form of child abuse, in which the attachment bond between a child and an emotionally-available parent is deliberately undermined, and a perverse loyalty is formed with the Alienating parent after separation or divorce. Family Systems Therapists call this a Cross-Generational Coalition whereby the child is triangulated into the parental relationship in order to reject and vilify the Alienated parent. 

Earlier researchers have referred to the systematic alienation of one parent as the ‘Medea Complex’, Malicious Mother Syndrome and Gatekeeper syndrome. Others have claimed that PAS is analogous to the Factitious Disorder, Munchausen Syndrome. Childress has since asserted that the underlying psychopathology of the Alienating parent is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. 


An Individual's Insights into Secure Nest's Self-Education Program
by Sally Skewes, Secure Nest and Elly Gannon, University of Adelaide, Australia.


Secure Nest is an innovative e-health tool, which has been specifically developed for schema therapy. The platform offers a range of tools for therapists to support their clients, including programs which provide step by step guidance for therapists to facilitate blended short-term group schema therapy and individual schema therapy. Blended programs include a combination of face to face and e-health sessions. Secure Nest recently developed a self-education program where individuals can learn about schema therapy. In this article we present an individual’s insights into Secure Nest’s self-education program. 


Narcissism, Shame and Intimacy: Dealing with the Sexually Self-Absorbed and Healing the Fractured Trust
by Wendy Behary, LCSW and Liz Lacy, LCSW, USA.

From celebrities to political figures to the everyday individual... We have been bombarded by the news media in the U.S. with the recent meteoric rise in attention to acts of sexual misconduct, the sexual predators, perpetrators, addicts, and general sexual preoccupation. It is no surprise that we, as therapists, find ourselves continuing to peer into the important underlying explanations and evaluate the potential for helping individuals and relationships affected by these behaviors and attitudes to heal.

Exploring the specific issues and critical content related to sexual activity can be, albeit incredibly important to conceptualization and treatment, an uncomfortable endeavor for many therapists. We need to be extraordinarily sturdy in our own skin when it comes to sexuality, personal feelings and biases about infidelity, and our deep understanding of the functions of sexualized modes and schemas.  Add to that… the capacity to address the belligerence, self-righteous entitlement, denial, and arrogance of a narcissistic client with hypersexual modes.


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