Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is one of the most prevalent (1.5-2% in the general population) and severe forms of psychopathology. BPD-patients are generally not very popular among clinicians, and they often raise strong countertransference feelings. One of the problems with BPD is that these patients tend to suddenly change in emotional state, confusing therapists and making them easily feeling helpless and lost. Traditional cognitive therapy approaches were not very successful, missing a good understanding of the disorder; whilst dialectical behavior therapy has a limited focus. Schema Therapy (ST) offers a model to understand BPD and to apply specific methods and techniques depending on the stage of therapy and the specific emotional state of the patient. Moreover, ST aims to help patients recover from all problems they struggle with. Briefly, BPD is understood as resulting from problematic childhood experiences, characterized by lack of safety and high threat levels. This includes unsafe attachment and emotional (and often sexual) abuse. ST can be seen as a way to repair these early experiences. ST has 3 foci: (1) the therapeutic relationship (the therapists offers a safe relationship and “reparents” in a limited way); (2) the past (traumatic experiences are processed, often using experiental techniques like imagery rescripting); and (3) the present (present problems are addressed). Emotional states are understood by a schema-mode model, helping patients to get grip on their emotions and therapists to choose the right technique. For each schema mode a set of specific techniques has been developed and therapists can select the technique that is most appropriate for the specific patient in the specific stage of therapy. Studies demonstrated that ST is a very effective and cost-effective treatment, with a length of 1.5-3 years.
Key Learning Objectives
• to understand and apply the schema mode model of BPD, so that BPD-symptoms and behaviours can be understood
• to be able to detect the mode the patient is in, and to choose an appropriate technique
• to understand and apply the basic ST-techniques
• to use the therapeutic relationship to ‘reparent’
• to be able to choose focus and type of technique according to the phase of therapy
Please note that for a full training a 4-days workshop is recommended.
Training modalities (i.e. experiential, didactic, role play etc)
1. Didactic power point presentation
2. Modeling techniques (DVD, life role play)
3. Experiental: practice in pairs
4. Questions and discussion
• Arntz, A. & van Genderen, H. (2009). Schema Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder. Wiley.
• Arntz, A. & Jacob, G. (2012). Schema Therapy in Practice. Wiley.
• Farrell, J. & Shaw, I. (2012). Group schema Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder. Wiley.
• Rafaeli, E., Bernstein, D. & Young, J. (2010). Schema Therapy. Routledge.
• Young, J.E., Klosko, J.S. & Weishaar, J.S. (2003). Schema Therapy, a Practioner’s Guide. Guilford.
Arnoud Arntz is a full professor of clinical psychology at the University of Amsterdam. His main research interest lies in processes maintaining anxiety, depression and personality disorders, as well as in their treatment. He led several multicenter trials of schema therapy for personality disorders. He became most famous for his work on the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorders. Together with Adam Radomsky he is editor of Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychopathology.