Born in the UK, I have lived in South Africa most of my adult life, and worked at Rhodes University in Grahamstown from the early 1970s. I became a Professor in the Department of Psychology in 1985. I retired from the full time position in 2009 but still work for the University on a part time basis supervising postgraduate research and doing research writing. I was fortunate to meet Jeffrey Young in 1984/5 when I was a post-doctoral fellow at Beck’s Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I had been trained in CBT and been exposed to humanistic therapies including Gestalt work with imagery and chair dialogues. So it was enormously helpful when Jeff presented seminars on what was then Schema Focused therapy, material that would later be part of Schema Therapy: a practitioner’s
guide (2003). From then on Schema therapy became part of my conceptual framework in my teaching and supervision (in a clinical psychology training program) and my therapy practice. I followed the publications from Jeff and his colleagues as they began to appear in the 1990s, and, over the next twenty years, heard presentations from Jeff a few times at conferences. In 2007, at a conference in Barcelona, I met Arnoud Arntz who briefed me on the exciting developments in schema therapy in Holland. I attended a workshop Arnoud gave in London the following year and soon after that set in motion a series of workshops in Grahamstown at which I and several colleagues looked at recent developments in schema therapy and worked with the training DVDs developed by the Dutch researchers.
Attending an ISST conference for the first time - in Berlin in 2010 - felt like a homecoming. The ISST community has since then been very special to me because of the shared vision and shared understanding that the schema therapy model offers of what therapy is about. I continue to value my interactions within the ISST community both personally, academically, and professionally. Currently I run a small Schema Therapy training program in Cape Town giving regular workshops and supervision, run a private practice with a focus on schema therapy, and do some academic writing mostly on schema therapy and work with imagery. I have presented workshops at the ISST conferences in New York (2012), Istanbul (2014) and Vienna (2016) in which I have tried to present my understandings of how to deal with the conceptual and practical challenges raised by work with individual cases and how this leads to advanced applications of the mode model. I have also been privileged to work on some ISST subcommittees. One has been working to develop a revision of the case conceptualization form for use in schema therapy training and for the process of assessment for certification. It has been rewarding to work with a group of leaders in schema therapy from five different countries all of whom share the same vision of what schema therapy is and how we can improve and deepen our capacities for conceptualizing cases. Another committee worked on setting up criteria for training and certification in schema therapy for couples. Here is has been rewarding for me to learn so much from experienced colleagues while working together on the conceptual and organizational challenges of defining criteria for training and certification.
The ISST is thriving. The number of countries in which there is significant interest in schema therapy is expanding. As we were shown in Vienna, there has been a steady increase in numbers at our conferences. Those of us within the ISST know what a wonderful vision of therapy and the therapy process the schema therapy model offers. We have all seen the enthusiasm and excitement of therapists from more limited traditions when they encounter the flexibility and clarity that the schema therapy approach can give. Its good to see this spreading ever more widely. At the same time schema therapy though integrative, has at its center a clear theoretical perspective and approach. Safeguarding that as schema therapy expands its reach is important to me.
I would be honoured to serve as President and work for the furthering of the aims of the ISST with colleagues who I know are dedicated, hard working and share this vision. I believe I have the understanding and experience to be able to offer the kind of leadership that the society needs.
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