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Developmental stages guide the therapeutic relation. Working with a phase-oriented approach in clinical practice

by Rosi Reubsaet & Judith Vanhommerig


After the training:
- Participants know what the phase-oriented approach implies.
- Participants have experienced ways to adapt the therapeutic relationship according to the therapy-phase a client is in
- Participants feel more confident in setting the stage for clients and delivering experiential techniques
Therapists will feel inspired to make the stages and steps in Schema Therapy more explicit. This helps in staying focused and setting the stage for change. Moreover, it is about reinventing your therapeutic relationship, also with patients you see for quite some time without improvement

Teaching Methods:

Powerpoint, live and video demonstrations, role play

Learning Objectives:

Schema Therapy is a long and intense process, focussed on healing personality disorders. There is amply scientic evidence of its efficacy and many clients and therapists are interested. In daily clinical practice, some problems and pitfalls arise. There are long waiting lists to start therapy, the complexity of the therapy can be a challenge for therapists and clients, and aiming for a full-grown healthy adult can be a never-ending journey. As Jeffrey Young himself said, in an interview in a Dutch newspaper (NRC, 2018): “Some patients keep seeing me their entire life”.

For the last 10 years, the presenters have been designing a phase-oriented approach, as a way to guide the therapeutic relationship and apply limited reparenting. The phases stem from developmental psychology and represent the normal developmental phases a child goes through when growing up. These phases are a girder for the therapeutic relationship and set the stage for interventions. For example, at the start of therapy, the therapist takes a different attitude, as compared to the end of therapy. This can be compared to a parent, nurturing a baby versus that same parent setting limits to his child in adolescence. Limited reparenting changes during the process of ‘growing up’.
For the therapist, using a phase-oriented approach offers a clear structure and demarcation in the therapeutic relationship. The therapy- process is focussed on gradual development with specific targets for each developmental stage the client goes through. It directs interventions and facilitates adherence. For example, what can you expect from the client at the different stages? Or how do you apply a multiple chair technique at the beginning of therapy, how at the end? Also, the endgoal of therapy is a constant topic.
For the client, the phase-oriented approach and its developmental targets create clarity. Expectations can be explained to the client. This makes it easier to collaborate. For example, a sense of mastery can grow when the client knows that the first step is to become aware of his destructive coping strategy, after which the second step follows: letting go of the dysfunctional patterns.
This interactive, experiential training session focuses on presenting the theory of the phase-oriented approach and providing opportunity to experience it as a therapist. The participants can practice with specific interventions from each phase. An active contribution of the participants is expected.

This workshop is intended for:

Relevant Background Readings on Topic:

Arntz, A., & Jacob, G. (2012). Schema Therapy in practice: An introductory guido to the schema mode approach. Chichester, UK: Wiley


Farrell, J. M., & Shaw, I. A. (2012). Group Schema Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder. A step-by-step treatment manual wiht patient workbook. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Reubsaet, RJ. (2018). Schematherapy: a phase-based approach. (NL: Schematherapie: Werken met fases in de klinische praktijk). Houten: Bohn Stafleu Van Loghum. (Translation: Expected: june 2020)

Venhuizen, G. (2018, 11 september). ‘Even good parents can do bad things’. NRC. Consulted on https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2018/09/11/ook-goede-ouders-kunnen-soms-de-plank-misslaan-a1616080

Young, J., en Klosko, J., Wieshaar, M. (2003). Schema Therapy: A Practitioner's Guide. Guilford Publications.

About the Presenters:

Rosi Reubsaet

Rosi Reubsaet is a registered clinical psychologist/psychotherapist, trainer/supervisor Schema Therapy ISST and supervisor CBT. She started working with (group)Schema Therapy in 2006 and has been trained by Arnoud Arntz, Hannie van Genderen, Joan Farrell and Ida Shaw. She is board member of the personality-disorder section of the Dutch CBT-association. Momentarily, she works at a large mental health care organization in the Netherlands, where she treats PD-patients with individual and group schematherapy, in an outpatient and day treatment setting. She trains and supervises Schema Therapy and CBT in the Netherlands and in Germany, since 2012. She is author of the book “Schematherapie. Werken met fases in de klinische praktijk” (2018; title translated: “Schema Therapy. A phase-oriented approach in clinical practice”.

Judith Vanhommerig

Judith Vanhommerig is a Registered Drama Therapist, Psychodrama Therapist, and Senior Schema Therapist.  She teaches schema therapy with her colleagues at the Academy of Schema Therapy in the Netherlands. Judith has developed new programs in schema therapy for youth, family relationship therapy, and adults with personality disorders. She is also supervising teams and individuals to help integrate specialized experiential tools within schema therapy.

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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