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10.30 AM - 12.00 PM 

Diving Into The Therapeutic Relationship. What we learn from the concept of countertransference to improve self-disclosure 

by Guido Sijbers & Judith Hollands


Diving into the therapy relationship
What we learn from the concept of countertransference to improve self-disclosure.


The concept of countertransference has gone through a development from a psychoanalytic to a trans-theoretical concept.

Jeffrey Young wrote early on the subject of countertransference:

“Schema Therapy has many parallels to psychodynamic models of therapy. Two major elements shared with both approaches are the exploration of the childhood origins of current problems and the focus on the therapy relationship…. ….Both (models) alert therapist to transference and countertransference issues.”

Young et al. (2003) The Conceptual Model

As with other all longer-lasting psychotherapies, similarly with Schema Therapy, working with the therapeutic relationship is being considered a key element. Working with the often subtle (counter)transference issues, nevertheless seems to deserve more attention in the training of schema therapists. It is a persistent misunderstanding that for schema therapists that it is not professional to experience own schema's being triggered in the therapy relationship and to use these vulnerable feelings (in a therapeutic way) in therapy.  It is well known although that much of the success of Schema Therapy is related to the quality of this therapy relationship (Giesen - Bloo, 2006).

The therapist can learn to use the (counter)transference as a diagnostic instrument. To improve dealing and working with (counter)transference helps the therapist discovering not only their own, but also the subtle influences of the client's schemas and modes in relationships. Therefore therapists have to learn to become more aware of themselves in relation to others in most subtle ways. With the more difficult patients this is an even more important tool to use in the therapy relationship:

“The therapist's reactions can be a valuable resource in assessing the patient's schemas. However, therapists must be able to distinguish their valid intuition about a patient from the triggering or their own schemas ... "

Young et al (2003), The Therapy Relationship

Learning Objectives:

-  The therapist and his/her own schema’s as part of the relationship.

Learning to work with (counter)transference, dealing with therapists schema’s and consequently the therapeutic use of self-disclosure.

-  The do’s and don’ts of self disclosure

-  Making the therapy relationship more emotional and in this way deepen it

and improve the Schema Therapy process.

Learn to take care of oneself better (preventing burnout) by the therapeutic use of self disclosure

“The patient's schemas (also) appear in the therapy relationship. Of course, this is true of the therapist's schemas as well: the therapists own schemas are triggered ... "

Young et al. (2003) Page 85 Scheme assessment and education

Teaching Modes:

Keynote, video demonstration, presenters demonstrate role play and role play in small groups by participants, questions, discussion.

Workshop Intended For:


Relevant Background Readings on Topic:

Arntz, A. (2016). Schematherapie en de behandeling van persoonlijkheidsstoornissen. (Schema therapy and the treatment of personality disorders). Gedragstherapie. Jaargang 49, nummer 3

Farrell, J. & Shaw, I. (2017). Experiencing Schema Therapy from the Inside Out. A Self-Practice/Self-Reflection Workbook for Therapists, Guilford Publications.

Hafkenscheid, A. (2015), Tegenoverdracht: van een psychoanalytisch

naar een transtheoretisch concept. (Countertransferce: from a psychoanalytical to a trans-theoretical concept). Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie, 57,3, p.202-20

Knox, S., Hess, S., Petersen, D. & Hill, A. (1997) Qualitative Analysis of Client Perceptions of the Effects of Helpful Therapist Self- Disclosure in Long-Term Therapy. Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol. 44, No. 3, 274-283

Schnellbacher, J. & Leijssen, M. (2008). Characteristic features of helpful therapist self-disclosure. Tijdschrift voor psychotherapie. p.34: 27. Bohn Stafleu van Loghum

Simpson, S., Simionato, G., Smout. M. ,Vreeswijk, M. van, Hayes, C., Sougleris, C., Reid, C. (2018). Burnout amongst clinical and counselling psychologist: The role of early maladaptive schemas and coping modes as vulnerability factors. Clin Psychol Psychother. 1–12.

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

About the Presenters:

Guido Sijbers

Guido Sijbers is a clinical psychologist/psychotherapist, an Advanced Level Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, and an Advanced Certified Schema Therapist and Trainer/Supervisor.

He works with Schema Therapy to treat personality disorders using individual and in group therapy in tertiary (outpatient) health care in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Previously Guido collaborated with Arnoud Arntz at the University of Maastrict, and was in private practice in Cologne, Germany. He has been training other therapists in Schema Therapy since 1999 (ptkoeln.de).

He is one of the founders of academievoorschematherapie.nl

Since the Dutch Membership of Schema Therapy was formed in 2007, Guido has been a Senior Member, and received Advanced Certification by ISST in 2008 as a Trainer/Supervisor in individual therapy, along with Advanced Certification for Group Schema Therapy as a Trainer/Supervisor in 2014. 


Judith Hollands

Judith Hollands is a Senior Registered Drama Therapist and Senior Schema Therapist in the Dutch Schema Therapy Register. Since 2009, Judith has been working with Schema Therapy, and is one of the founders of combining Psychodrama Therapy and Group Schema Therapy in a day center for Borderline Personality Disorder in Maastricht. 

Since 2013, Judith has been teaching workshops, with a focus on cooperation in multidisciplinary psychotherapy teams and in using experiential techniques in a Schema Therapy context. She is a co-founder of the Academy of Schema Therapy (Academie voor Schematherapie), and maintains a private practice.

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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