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Using imagery to effect psychological change in clients with chronic, complex problems, with special reference to Schema Therapy

Wednesday 20th September 2017 at Stranmillis University College Belfast

Workshop Background

Schema Therapy (ST) was developed by Jeffrey Young for use in treatment of personality disorders and other chronic disorders, such as when patients fail to respond, or relapse, after having been through other therapies (for example, traditional CBT). Schema therapy is an integrative psychotherapy combining theory and techniques from previously existing therapies, including CBT, psychoanalytic object relations theory, attachment theory, and Gestalt therapy.

At the International Conference of the ISST in Istanbul, 2014, a small group of schema therapists from Ireland agreed to form the Schema Therapy Association of Ireland, with the objectives of increasing access to formally accredited training in ST and to bringing the best international practitioners to Ireland to share their expertise in workshops. Two introductory 2-day workshops on ST have been presented in Northern Ireland in recent years, in 2016 a number of NHSCT staff became accredited schema therapists (through an external course), and an ISST accredited training course based in Dublin began in January 2017. STAI is very pleased to collaborate with DCPNI in bringing Prof Edwards to Belfast, as part of a strategy to build on these recent developments.

Imagery methods have a long history within psychotherapy. Imagery re-scripting has become an evidence-based intervention that is widely used in CBT and is central to ST. In contemporary use in CBT, and particularly in ST, there are new and distinctive features. In part these are related to the integration and refinement of theory, to an enhanced understanding of the nature of emotion-focused work in therapy, and to a modern understanding of the nature of autobiographical memory. Experiential exercises, with the objective of eliciting emotional change/healing, are an important part of Schema Therapy. Guided imagery is an experiential technique often used early in schema therapy to help identify unmet childhood needs and to identify which current situations involve the same emotions as the images from early childhood and, thus, clarifies the links between early memories and current triggers of schemas and schema modes.

Imagery is also often an important element of the change phase, using imagery re-scripting through which painful memories are revised in ways that allow for the client to meet her/his emotional needs. If parents or significant others were, and remain, unable to meet the client’s needs, the therapist enters into an image and serves as a transitional source of healthy parenting. This contributes to a secure attachment developing between client and therapist, a form of attachment that is known to foster growth and integration. Imagery during the change phase involves encouraging the patient to express emotions in the session. Imagery is also used to help patients grieve for the losses in their life and to overcome psychological trauma.

Workshop Objectives

  • present the rationale for imagery work within a schema therapy framework;
  • include several extended and advanced case examples with audio extracts from sessions that illustrate transformative processes which are potentiated by guided imagery and imagery re-scripting;
  • link these examples with M. A. Conway's research on and theory of autobiographical memory, providing a basis for understanding the relationship between memory and imagination as well the nature of the processes set in motion by imagery re-scripting;
  • consider questions about the accuracy of memories, the nature of false memories, and how schemas, as the fundamental abstracted building blocks of personal meaning, are related to memory and the storage of information about events to which we have been previously exposed;
  • show how the conceptual tools of the ST model can be a helpful guide for therapists with respect to making active interventions in the re-scripting process that can promote resolution and healing.

Who is this workshop intended for?

Those with a knowledge of the essential concepts of Schema Therapy, e.g. through prior attendance at an introductory workshop. Attendees do not necessarily have to be using ST exclusively - anyone using imagery as part of their therapeutic repertoire for complex clients will benefit from the workshop.

Please note, this event is credit/debit card payment only at the time of booking. If you need an invoice, please submit your booking form and contact us.

Registration fees can be found on the booking form. If you have any queries please contact us via the event hotline on 01332 224505.


Wednesday 20th September 2017

Please note, all speakers, timings and content are subject to change.

09:00Registration with refreshments
09:30Workshop Starts
11:15Refreshments Break
11:30Workshop Continues
14:00Workshop Continues
15:30Refreshments Break
15:45Workshop Continues
17:15Workshop Closes

Speakers and Facilitators


Professor Dave Edwards

Prof Edwards trained in cognitive-behavioural, humanistic and transpersonal approaches to psychotherapy, and has a longstanding interest in psychotherapy integration. For over 25 years, he taught CBT to trainee clinical and counselling psychologists at Rhodes University (South Africa) and offered intensive workshops to students using expressive therapies. In the 1980s, he attended seminars withJeffrey Young, the founder of Schema Therapy, and has followed the development of ST since its beginnings. He is certified as a therapist and trainer by the International Society for Schema Therapy (ISST) for both individual and couple therapy and is currently President of the ISST. He retired from a full time position at RhodesUniversity at the end of 2009 but remains on contract as a researcher and supervisor. He is registered as a Clinical Psychologist in South Africa and the United Kingdom. He was a Diplomate and Founding Fellow of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, which provides training and sets standards for Cognitive Therapy as developed by Aaron Beck.

Professor Edwards’ early publications on the use of imagery in cognitive therapy were influential in promoting the integration of imagery methods into cognitive and behavioural psychotherapy and anticipated current use of these techniques in schema therapy. He has also written on the historical roots of schema therapy.


Stranmillis University College Belfast

Stranmillis Rd, Belfast BT9 5DY •  Website•  Directions

Additional Information

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