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"Discovering Schema Modes in Oneself and in One’s Patients: An Interactive, Self-Experience Workshop Combining Schema Therapy and Positive Psychology"

By David P. Bernstein


Jean Piaget used the phrase, “little scientist,” to describe the child who discovers the laws of nature by interacting with the world. In this spirit, I have developed new interactive games and exercises that enable participants to learn about their own schema modes and those of other people. The games and exercises are playful as well as confronting. They foster insight and compassion towards ourselves and other people, and emphasize building strengths, a tenet of Positive Psychology.


The games and exercises in this workshop help participants become aware of unhealthy modes – the ones that involve old emotional wounds and ineffective coping – and enhance healthy modes that involve insight, selfdirection, compassion, playfulness, and humor. Most of the games and exercises revolve around a set of cards that I have developed with the comic artist, “Vick,” which represent the various schema modes in a cartoon-like form. Each participant uses a set of the cards to discover the modes in himself or herself and other people, working individually and in small groups, in a way that optimizes each person’s individual learning style. In this workshop, we will focus especially on the way in which schema modes trigger each other in our relationships with patients, leading to stuck points in the therapy. Participants can choose for themselves which patients to focus on. When our modes are triggered, we sometimes find it difficult to see the positive qualities in ourselves or in our patients. This workshop also incorporates exercises that focus on strength finding and building to view ourselves and our patients in healthier, more balanced ways.

Learning Objectives:

The goal of this workshop is to stimulate the understanding of schema modes and strengthen the capacity to work with challenging patients. Specific goals are:

1.     Recognizing modes and how they are triggered in different situations.
2.     Recognizing strengths in oneself and other people.
3.     Recognizing one’s own modes, and how they are triggered during work with patients in individual and group settings.
4.     Strengthening the capacity of the Healthy Adult mode to cope with challenging situations.
The workshop is intended for: Beginners and Advanced

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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