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Schema Therapy for Adolescents and Young Adults After Peer Victimization

by Eva Dresbach

Skills Class: Schema Therapy for Adolescents and young Adults who have experienced Peer Victimization


Peer Victimization is a painful social experience, which can affect a person’s schemas, modes and social performance. In addition, a young person’s schemas or schema-dispositions can increase the risk of becoming a victim and identifying with this role. Evidence is found that schemas of the Disconnection & Rejection-domain (Alba et al., 2018) can make young people more vulnerable to effects of victimization on their mental health. By being victimized or bullied, the young person’s emotional needs for affiliation to a peer-group are unfulfilled. Therefore, victimization is known as a condition that might lead to development of schemas of the domains Disconnection & Rejection and Other-Directedness. Different modes can be influenced or developed by peer-victimization. Child-Modes are affected by the hurtful experience. Dysfunctional peer-messages can result in a Punitive Peer-Mode. Coping-Strategies as subjugation (e.g. Surrender-Mode, Victim-Mode) or avoidance (e.g. Self-Soother, Detached Protector) might develop. Because of their coping-strategies, persons affected by victimization might act socially incompetent. They experience further rejection and therefore have less opportunity to improve and refine their social skills. As a result, interpersonal problems may persist, even in adulthood. Schema Therapy can reduce these negative effects by addressing the needs of the Child-Modes, combatting the Punitive Peer-Mode and building skills of the competent Mode.

Target Audience:

Clinical practitioners working with adolescents and young adults. Basic experience in Schema Therapy is required.

Learning Objectives:

Recognizing the Punitive-Peer-Mode in adolescent or adult patients.
Learning and practicing how to explore and combat the Punitive-Peer-Mode and to reach and care for the Child-Modes.

Learning how to combine chair work and social-skills training to promote socially competent reactions in adaptive modes

Level of Experience Required for Participants:

Intermediate (Participants have had basic ST training)


Alba, J., Calvete, E., Wante, L., Van Beveren, M.-L. & Braet, C. (2018). Early maladaptive schemas as moderators of the association between bullying victimization and depressive symptoms in adolescents. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 42 (1), 24–35. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-017-9874-5

Calvete, E., Fernández-González, L., González-Cabrera, J. et al. (2018). Continued Bullying Victimization in Adolescents: Maladaptive Schemas as a Mediational Mechanism. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 47, 650–660.

Dresbach, E, (2021). 75 Therapiekarten – Schematherapie für Kinder und Jugendliche. Weinheim: Beltz.

Dresbach, E. & Döpfner, M. (2020). Selbstmanagement bei Gleichaltrigenproblemen. Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Graaf, P., Hampel, J. & Zarbock, G. (2021). Therapie-Tools Schematherapie mit Kindern und Jugendlichen. Weinheim: Beltz.

Loose, C., Graaf, P. & Zarbock, G. (2013). Schematherapie mit Kindern und Jugendlichen. Weinheim: Beltz.

Loose, C. & Lechmann, C. (2019). Schematherapie mit Jugendlichen: Beltz Video-Learning. Weinheim: Beltz.

Spröber-Kolb, N. & Dresbach, E. (2022). Therapietools Mobbing im Kindes- und Jugendalter. Weinheim: Beltz.

Teuschel, P. & Heuschen, K.W. (2012). Bullying: Mobbing bei Kindern und Jugendlichen. Stuttgart: Schatthauer

About the Presenter:

Eva Dresbach

Eva Dresbach (PhD) works as a practitioner in the area of child and adolescent psychotherapy. She conducts workshops as Advanced Level Schema Therapist and Supervisor-Trainer in Individual Child-Adolescent Schema-Therapy. She has published therapy manuals about peer-problems and about peer-victimization and bullying, combining cognitive-behavioral and schema therapy interventions. In addition, she has published a therapy-card-set for children and adolescents with a focus on positive schemas.

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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