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Schema Therapy with Couples: A Practitioner's Guide to Healing Relationships

ISBN: 978-1-118-97264-9
304 pages
July 2015, Wiley-Blackwell
Schema Therapy with Couples: A Practitioner


Schema Therapy for Couples represents the first practitioner guide to detail effective Schema Therapy techniques in couple and relationship therapy.

  • Shows how the distinctive features of ST make it ideal for addressing the cognitive and emotion-focused problems typical in couple relationships
  • Presents and integrates a series of innovative tools and interventions such as Schema Therapy with Needs versus Wants, Mode Cycle Clash Cards, limited re-parenting visualization, and chair work
  • Authored by an international team of experts in couples therapy and Schema Therapy
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Table of Contents

About the Authors 3

Preface 4

Acknowledgments 6

Introduction 7

Chapter 1 What Schema Therapy Offers 9

Chapter 2 The Initial Contract and First Interview 19

Chapter 3 Relationship Assessments 32

Chapter 4 Understanding the Origins of Relational Styles 45

Chapter 5 Foundations for Evidence-Based Practice in Couple Therapy 55

Chapter 6 Schemas and Modes 64

Chapter 7 Approaching Schema Therapy for Couples 85

Chapter 8 Mode Mapping and Mode Cycle Clash-cards 95

Chapter 9 Interventions in Couple Treatment 117

Chapter 10 Common Problems in Couple Therapy, including Affairs, Forgiveness, and Violence 145

Chapter 11 Differentiating Needs from Wants, and the Challenge of Integration 181

Chapter 12 Building Friendship, Building the Healthy Adult 198

Appendix: Self-care for the Couple Therapist 210

References 216

Abbreviations 225

Index of Therapy Tools and Interventions 226

Index 228

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Author Information

Chiara Simeone-DiFrancesco founded Wisconsin Family Growth & Reconciliation Center LLC, working with couples for 25 years in private practice. Chiara now directs the Marriage & Family Schema Therapy Institute, a division of the non-profit Healing International, Inc. she co-founded in 1986. A former Lieutenant in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, she is founder and chair of the ISST Subcommittee & Workgroup of Marital and Couples Schema Therapy.

Eckhard Roediger is a Neurologist, Psychiatrist, and Psychotherapist based in Frankfurt, Germany. He is a former chief physician of the Salus Klinik Hospital, and is currently Director of the Frankfurt Schema Therapy Institute and President of the ISST. He is the author of several German language books on Schema Therapy.  

Bruce A. Stevens (PhD Boston University, 1987) holds the Wicking Chair of Ageing and Practical Theology at Charles Sturt University and is the director of the Centre of Ageing and Pastoral Studies. He was previously Associate Professor in clinical psychology at the University of Canberra where he convened the program with over 60 graduate students from 2009-2014. He is an endorsed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist with a part-time private practice at Canberra Clinical and Forensic Psychology, a practice he founded in the early 1990’s. He has been chair of the Canberra section of the Clinical College of the Australian Psychological Society. He gives many professional workshops on couple therapy throughout Australia. He has is a trainer in Schema Therapy with both individual and couple accreditation with the ISST. 

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“Schema Therapy with Couples is a very helpful addition to the clinical couples' therapy literature, integrating the individual challenges people face in their own growth with managing a relationship with someone else who also faces their own individual challenges. Drs. DiFrancesco, Roediger, and Stevens provide a guide through this very difficult but everyday terrain that every couples therapist must navigate.

John Gottman, Ph.D., Author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work   

“In 25 years of treating couples and closely following the literature, this is the most significant development I have seen.
Schema Therapy with Couples provides a highly developed, systems-oriented theoretical model.  With its foundation in schema therapy, this approach can deftly deal with the most severely dysfunctional couples by focusing on personality dysfunction, change at a deep cognitive-emotional level, and potent emotive techniques. This is an extraordinary volume, chock-full of figures, instructive clinical examples, and powerful clinical interventions, that will undoubtedly influence how you treat couples.”

Lawrence P. Riso, PhD, Professor of Clinical Psychology, American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, Washington DC


“For several years, the authors of this book have been active in a schema therapy for couples workgroup and now share their own insights and those of colleagues. They show how the central concepts and approach to case formulation and intervention in schema therapy provide a coherent integrative framework, and offer a set of guiding and enabling principles as well as practical examples of how to implement specific schema therapy interventions. Rich in clinical examples, this book will enable readers to encounter the distinctive contribution of the schema therapy approach to couples therapy.”

David Edwards, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Rhodes University and Schema Therapy Institute of South Africa


“This book teaches the basics of couples in conflict, and provides a deeper, need-based understanding of what goes wrong in relationships. Therapists are offered a toolkit to meet, understand, evaluate and help couples to stay together despite interpersonal turmoil. Schema Therapy with Couples opens a new window of understanding and provides innovative ways to help.”

Gerhard Zarbock, PhD, Clinical psychologist, Director of IVAH, Hamburg, Germany, co-author of Mindfulness for Therapists
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