Log in



Session 1 

Codependency and Enmeshment: A Fusion of Concepts

by Jeff Conway & Ingrid Bacon


Codependency and Enmeshment have been used interchangeably in psychological and psychotherapeutic practice. The commentary offers a discussion of the conceptual development of both concepts, highlighting the historical differences and similarities. It suggests that there are specific schemas and modes which operate within the scope of both concepts. The Bacon & Conway 2021 Model is introduced to describe the schemas and modes associated with enmeshment and codependency. The conceptual model of enmeshment of codependency is offered with the intention to help the reader to identify and find ways to address these patterns. A fictional case scenario was offered to illustrate the discussion. Further research is currently being developed to offer a robust empirical base for the model proposed.

About the Presenters:

Jeff Conway

Jeff Conway, MS, LCSW is the current President of the International Society of Schema Therapy (ISST). He is a founding member of the ISST and has served in several roles for the ISST since its foundation. His previous Executive Board position was Training Coordinator from 2018-2020. He continues to be a Schema Therapy Trainer and Supervisor and has cultivated a training niche for understanding and effectively treating the Enmeshment and Undeveloped Self Schema. He has written about this schema and provided several workshops and supervision groups on this topic throughout the world. Jeff is also a founding member of The NY Center for Emotion Focused Therapy and is trained in Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT), an innovative couple’s therapy model, based on Attachment Theory. He is also a Certified Couples Schema Therapy Trainer and Supervisor and just completed a new online ST Couples Training Program in March of 2022. Other areas of training and experience include the treatment of early childhood trauma, and Object Relations Theory and Group Therapy Models. He resides in New York City where he has a private practice, working with individuals, couples, and groups.

Dr. Ingrid Bacon

Dr. Ingrid Bacon is a Chartered Psychologist, mental health Occupational Therapist, researcher, and educator. She has more than 20 years of experience working in mental health practice in the UK, South America, and Africa.

Ingrid is a Director of Research and Senior Lecturer in Mental Health at Kingston and St. George's University of London, UK, and a visiting Lecturer at University of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Session 2 

What are the key therapeutic processes in Schema Therapy?

by Eckhard Roediger


Schema therapy shows good results – as well in reducing personality disorder symptoms as in keeping clients in therapy. However, what are the key processes these effects are built on? Beyond the option of using the functional ACT processes to describe “Healthy Adult”-mode functioning, Schema therapy adds deep emotional processing to the table (including rescripting childhood experiences in imagery). The presentation gives a systematic overview on the key process we use in Imagery rescripting and chair dialogues to maintain the working alliance with difficult clients and evoke corrective emotional experiences in a well-controlled and safe way – for both: clients and therapists.

About the Presenter:

Eckhard Roediger

Eckhard Roediger (MD), born 1959, Neurologist, Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist. Trained in psychodynamic and Cognitive-Behavior therapy. Formerly Director of a Psychosomatic Department of a clinic in Berlin (GER), since 2007 working in Private Practice and Director of the Schema Therapy Training Center in Frankfurt (GER). Past-president and honorary member of the ISST. Working on the conceptual background of ST and its integration into CBT, Couples therapy and integrating Mindfulness and ACT into ST. 

Session 3 

Neurobiological influences of Schemas and Modes

by Sarah Cohen-Woods


A large number of biological and molecular perturbations associated with psychological disorders have been identified, including changes in brain structure, neurological connections, inflammation, and epigenomic factors, as well as genomic risk. However, integration with how these factors relate to the development and maintenance of schemas, critical in psychological disorders, is still emerging.

The role of environmental experiences, such as early life trauma and stressors, influence schema development. Genomic risk factors for psychological disorders that exhibit early maladaptive schemas, such as depression, are being identified, however individuals do not exist in genetic silos. A range of life experiences and exposures impact individuals from conception – some emerging evidence suggests potentially even before conception. While how environmental factors contribute to maladaptive schemas garners a focus of research, how genomic risk correlates with schema development represents almost unchartered territory. Genomic risk, and environmentally mediated dynamic molecular changes, need to be integrated with current perspectives of schemas. This has potential to inform the underlying neurobiology of the schema development. In this talk emerging work of early-life stress influencing epigenetic outcomes in young adults will be described, and how this may have implication for schema development. Further, the compounding effect across generations of trauma-related exposures, called inter- and transgenerational inheritance of trauma will also be described. The mechanism of this intergenerational transmission has been suggested to be epigenetic; a mechanism in humans has not yet been clearly established. However, inheritance of parental trauma may significantly contribute to an individual's own schema. Indicative evidence for epigenetic transmission of stress in humans comes from detection of alterations in patterns of DNA methylation in peripheral blood and saliva cells of children whose parents were exposed to trauma before their conception. Such evidence in humans has been limited to correlational cross-generational studies investigating somatic cells (i.e. peripheral blood or saliva), rather than robust tests of epigenetic inheritance. There is emerging evidence that epigenetic factors may be altered in the sperm of individuals with a history of child or adult trauma but sample sizes are extremely small and methods have been limited. A novel study addressing these gaps will be introduced, and the issue that no studies to date incorporate the assessment of schemas, which are likely to be related to these exposures, will be emphasized. Gaps and new paths forward in the investigations of the neurobiological bases of schema will be described, and how improving the neurobiological understanding of schema may benefit clinicians in the future. The aim in this talk is to develop and interest and future platform for researching clinicians to further develop neurobiological methods in schema therapy research.

About the Presenter:

Sarah Cohen-Woods

Sarah Cohen-Woods is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. Sarah received a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Leeds in 2003, and an MSc (2004) and PhD (2008) from the Institute of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, King's College London. In 2012 she moved to University of Adelaide, moving and setting up her laboratory at Flinders University in 2016. Since then the Behavioural Genomic and Environmental Mechanisms (Behavioural GEMs) lab which she heads, has grown exponentially with five PhD, one Masters (Clinical Psychology), and four Honours students. Working closely with world-leading academic clinicians, the Behavioural GEMs lab works to integrate, and understand how, environmental factors influence genetic and epigenetic risk factors on cognitive processes, brain function and structure, and psychological disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and eating disorders.

Sarah has held competitive research fellowships in the U.K., and in Australia, and secured over $2 million in grant funding in Australia, since she moved in 2012. Sarah has published over 70 peer-reviewed journal articles, half in the top 5% of international journals based on Scimago Journal Rankings. Her h-index is 29, with an i-index of 47; publications can be seen here. Sarah collaborates with multiple international consortia. She sits on the Southgate Institute executive, Girls Uniform Agenda, the Australian Brain Science Network EMCR steering and executive committees, and the Biological Psychiatry Australia Executive. A particular passion is communicating science to the public, collaborating with local schools and providing public lectures. In 2019, Sarah was awarded the Young Tall Poppy Award for excellence in science, and commitment to science communication. A further passion has been uniform choice advocacy for girls, contributing to legislative changes in multiple states across Australia.

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.

"Be the Change You Help Create"

Whether you are a clinician, researcher, educator, or a supporter, we have a place for you in our community. Visit our "Join us" page to find out more about the many benefits ISST offers, and to apply for membership now.
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software