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The Schema Therapy Bulletin

The Official Publication of the 

International Society of Schema Therapy


by Vivian Francesco (USA)

What role do you play on the ISST Executive Board and what made you want to run for that role? 

When I was pursuing my clinical training in graduate school, I did a joint program in not-for-profit management at New York University, with a focus on marketing. As I built up my therapeutic practice and center, I also stayed involved in not-for-profit organizations. I helped Jeff Young initially establish the Schema Therapy Training Institute and served on the Executive Board for the New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy. In 2014. When George Lockwood announced he was going to retire from his position on ISST’s Executive Board as Public Relations Coordinator after serving diligently for 4 years, I thought it would be an ideal time to get involved in an area I am passionate about, and one where I could take advantage of the technological skills and tools I have learned in order to focus on promoting Schema Therapy.

In 2014, ISST was in a major transitional period in terms of media. Technical issues had hampered prior efforts to update our platforms, and I was determined to overhaul our media offerings. Since I enjoy learning new technologies, serving in this role seemed like an ideal fit. With the help of former ISST President Eckhard Roediger, and other Board Members, we have modernized our website, listserv, social media, and even introduced a Schema Therapy Events app that we successfully used at INSPIRE 2016 in Vienna, and Barcelona Summer School. 

How did you first learn about Schema Therapy and where did you get your training? 

When Reinventing Your Life was first published in 1993, it was a featured book of the then Quality Paperback Book Club (remember those?), and I was about to complete my undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. It was the first psychotherapy book at that time that made complete sense to me, with refreshingly clear strategies for change.  

Since I was moving to New York to attend graduate school, I made it a goal to meet Jeff Young, which I did in 1995 when I enrolled in his training program. I started supervision with Will Swift, who helped Jeff develop the schema therapy model, and completed all the courses in Jeff’s program. In 1998, I was fortunate enough to be hired by Jeff as a staff psychotherapist at his center, the Cognitive Therapy Center of New York.

Some of my fondest memories are working together with other wonderful staff members along with Jeff at monthly “case conferences,” where I met so many other incredible staff members, including Wendy Behary, Cathy Flanagan, Scott Kellogg, the late Catherine Amon, Daniel Mattila, Jayne Rygh, Fred Eberstadt, Molly Schroeder, Janet Klosko, Michael Minervini, Michael First, Marsha Blank, Pat McDonald, Scott Shapiro, Patricia Escudero Rotman, David Bricker, the late Lillian Steinmuller and her husband Robert, and last bit not least, you, Vivian, along with so many more. We were a team and a community sharing the same passion for schema therapy! I miss the days when we were discussing the ins and outs of so many aspects of clinical work under the leadership of Jeff!  

How did you first get involved with Schema Therapy? 

Schema Therapy has always been my primary therapeutic orientation and I have worked to specialize in using Schema Therapy with couples since 1998, first attending and completing several years of training with the Gottman Institute in Seattle, Washington, and then under the supervision of Sue Johnson in Ottawa as well as Emotionally Focused Therapy. I also completed two institute training programs in group psychotherapy, and have always made it a focus to learn more. 

How do you see Schema Therapy evolving?

I see Schema Therapy evolving to broaden the perspective of other psychotherapies, wherein we embrace similarities that work well together while maintaining the integrity of the model. Schema Therapy offers the world a specific framework that is one of the main reasons for the successful outcome studies through the years, guiding therapists to shift unhealthy modes to more adaptive and flexible states. Our worldwide community of therapists has and will continue to expand and fine-tune techniques for even better outcomes. Our membership has more than doubled since 2014 and we anticipate that this rapid growth will continue given continued advances in technology. It's incredible how members from even remote places can feel like they are in the same room! 

How do you get into your Happy Child Mode?  

In my “happy child” mode, I am an adventurer and I treasure my time with my husband Ian exploring around our weekend home in Vermont with activities like skiing, hiking, kayaking, and running. That last one is something I never thought I would say, as I used to abhor running, probably stemming from a “punitive” cross country coach in high school! Over the last couple of years, it has felt great to compete. I can’t wait for more adventures... 

Are there any other thoughts or ideas that you would like to share with our ISST family? 

One of the greatest benefits of being a member of ISST is that it embraces our similarities, and celebrates our differences. The ISST Executive Board will be coming out with a Diversity Statement very shortly to codify our commitment to and value of all members of our international society. We welcome all, regardless of what they look like, where they come from, how they worship, or who they love. Especially in our times, I am proud to serve and be part of an organization with a mission to unite, when so many forces around us pull to divide.

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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