Schema therapy

October 31, 2007 at 9:18 pm | Posted in All in a day's work, The journey within, The Miracles | 8 Comments

One of the bonuses of working in my centre is the array of opportunities to get training, and i consider it my excellent fortune to have met very good trainers who are very much into accepting the client and you can tell that their work comes from their heart, who they genuinely are as persons, and not just professionals trying to do their job.

These 3 days i have been learning from Dr Jeffrey Young, the founder (or one of the leading experts?) of Schema Therapy, which is an integrative therapy that combines cognitive therapy, emotion-focused therapy, attachment theory, Gestalt, and others that i can’t rem off hand but those mentioned are the main ones. What i really liked about this therapy is that it takes the best of cognitive therapy and complements it with a therapist stance of validating the client’s emotions, hence, making therapy something that the client can really relate to, instead of an abstract, philosophical, cognitive-focused kind of therapy that is usually seen in cognitive therapy where the client might see the distortions in his cognitions, but cannot genuinely believe a more accurate way of thinking cos of what his emotions/schemas tell him.

In schema therapy, cognitive distortions are always explained by relating examples from client’s history, and there is a lot of validation of his emotions, so that the client doesn’t feel like the therapist is challenging him in a judgmental, critical way. This is why the dropout rates in schema therapy, as shown in outcome studies, are extremely low compared to other kinds of therapy, and the success rate is also relatively high. I also like the heavy use of imagery work in this form of therapy, which is done in diff ways e.g. have the client recognise the different parts of himself, dialogue between those diff parts, as well as confront the negative modes (schema tech language) such as the Punitive Parent. Lots of videos of therapy with actual clients were presented and i cld see how powerful and transformative the imagery work can be for the clients – a part of me was so impressed and amazed by it, while another part of me wondered when would i ever have the skills and qualities to be able to do therapy to such depth.

In fact, these 3 days really made me realise how little i know and how much there is for me to learn in the world of therapy. Most of the participants are definitely experienced helping professionals, from the questions raised, and while Dr Young always kept his language very simple and clear, his evidently extensive experience and knowledge definitely made me feel very much like a greenhorn in both of these areas. Of cos, this realisation is a good one, cos it would prob motivate me to study and practice harder, instead of complacently thinking that i’m good enough already.

And it’s not just experience and knowledge that i now know that i’m very much lacking in, it’s also the amt of inner work that i still need to do in order to be a truly good therapist. In the first day we were introduced to the 18 main maladaptive schemas (the filters through which we view ourselves and the world, and which make us think, feel, and behave in certain ways) and i was like, gosh, seems like i have over half of them. Well, maybe i was also  being slightly neurotic cos on the 2nd day i did the schema inventory on the way to the course, and it turned out that i only scored high and very high on a total of 3 schemas. However, i was doing it on the bus, and since schemas are also contextual, in other words, there was nothing in my environment to trigger any schemas that i may have, perhaps the scores weren’t too accurate. It’s true that my behaviour at work is very mature and healthy (which is why my colleagues all have gd impressions of me), while it’s at home where i become a different person altogether (which is why Mr Gua Gua can get a tough time at home…. :P), so perhaps if i were to do the inventory at home after some upsetting incident and specifically with regards to Mr Gua Gua, i wld prob uncover even more schemas in me. Guess it’s not a very uncommonly known fact that partners can bring out the worst sides in each other… and perhaps that’s how we force each other to grow spiritually!

Anyway, it’s enlightening to read about these schemas and be aware that i may have some of them, cos then i will be more cautious about whether clients’ own dysfunctional behaviours may trigger off my own schemas and hinder my ability to respond in a therapeutic manner. Although now i actually wish that there are schema therapists in S’pore so i can get myself into schema therapy! It’s a bit sad to discover these things in myself and not have someone who can help me to work on them. Guess i’ll have to rely on myself to work on my own stuff, and trust that the universe will send along the right persons/conditions to help me learn the lessons i need to learn in order to become a better therapist, or in fact, a better human being.

One other very interesting concept in schema therapy is that of the idea of re-parenting. Schema therapy says that clients get their maladaptive schemas mostly from parents and other early caregivers – either they were neglected (leading to schemas such as emotional deprivation, isolation, abandonment), over-indulged (leading to schemas such as entitlement, insufficient self discipline), over-protected (leading to schemas such as dependence, failure, enmeshment), disciplined too strictly (leading to schemas such as punitiveness, negativity) or lastly, accepted in a conditional manner (leading to schemas such as subjugation, self-sacrifice, approval-seeking).

What the therapist attempts to do is to be the kind of parent they never got, so as to fulfill those unmet needs (that created those maladaptive schemas), and hence allow them to mature emotionally, to eventually be able to relinguish the schemas and negative coping styles they used to protect themselves against pain and hurt. And what’s interesting about this reparenting is the extremely close relationship that the therapist tries to build with the client, which may seem counterintuitive to other therapists cos we are taught to draw boundaries with our clients and not get too close with them. However, in schema therapy, it’s the relationship btw the therapist and the client that IS the therapy – in the sense that it not only helps the client to meet their unmet needs and overcome their schemas, it also allows them to know what it’s like to have a healthy relationship with someone who can truly accept them and make them feel understood and supported.

Dr Young did point out that it doesn’t mean we have to pretend to like them even when the client is being difficult during the sessions. On the contrary, in order to build this very close relationship, it’s essential for the therapist to be honest and direct, even if it means telling the client when you do not feel very positive towards them, though of cos, it must be done in the gentlest way. This is one part of schema therapy that excites me, cos i always believe in the value of honesty and it’s also an integral part of my character to be direct and upfront (sometimes, that gets me into trouble of cos), so i’m happy to know that this is something that aids in the therapy.

I’m also very impressed by Dr Young’s attitude and manner – he speaks of his clients with the utmost respect and understanding, and in these 3 days, he has shown himself to be extremely patient, gentle and at the same time, honest about his opinions, even when it is in opposition to that of the participants, though he always makes sure that he prefaces it in a way so that the participants do not feel criticised or judged at all. There is one in particular that he was quite direct towards to, that i felt a bit of an ouch for that participant cos he actually pointed out in front of everyone that she could be hiding some of her own issues. Of cos, he didn’t phrase it in that way, and i guess he was in a way doing it almost like a supervisor, who scolds you for your own good – i sure wish he can be my supervisor… i’ll gladly be scolded by him anytime! Anyway, he was already doing it very nicely with that participant and i only felt that ouch for her cos he was doing it in front of 100 over pple, but if it was just the 2 of them, i don’t think i would feel any pain at all, if i were her.

Well, this was another trainer that taught and inspired not only in what he said, but how he said it. He truly taught by example, and i’m just very impressed by how he cld be firm without being critical, humble without being condescending, and always willing to apologise very sincerely for certain things such as not being able to understand our accents, when other trainers may joke about it in a more arrogant kinda way. It’s from his highly warm and nurturing behaviour that i grasped the idea of reparenting, and i can certainly see how easy it could be for his clients to drop their defenses and trust him deeply, no matter how deep-rooted and serious their issues are.

Another thing that excites me about schema therapy is that this may just be exactly what i was looking for to complete what i can do with EFT. What has always been a concern for me in doing EFT is the possibility of healing the client in a very superficial way, cos taking away the negative emotions, while may help the client lead a happier life, may not help them learn the lessons in those negative life experiences and evolve in their spiritual journey. I don’t know for a fact if this is true, cos a lot of articles i read on the EFT newsletter seem to show that when the negative emotions are cleared, clients are naturally able to gain insights into themselves and abt other pple in their lives. But i’m not sure if this is always the case.

What’s terrific about schema therapy is that it can help the client identify parts of them that need healing, how those parts came about, and cos the most difficult part in schema therapy is really helping the client to stop believing in those maladaptive schemas, and imagery work, while powerful, can also be a painful experience for clients who still believe negative things abt themselves. To me, EFT would be a fantastic tool to help clients release those schemas in a quick and painless way, and then use schema therapy to help them gain insight, cos it makes so much sense. In fact, it is really a pity that Dr Young prob haven’t come across EFT yet, cos i think the combination of schema therapy and EFT could be seriously dynamic. On the other hand, there is also a part of me that wonders if it is necessary for the client to go through slower types of therapy, for them to gain greater insight. In other words, does suffering = spiritual growth.

Haha, that is prob another huge dilemma that i have yet to find an answer. Cos i have believed for a long time, due to my Buddhist roots, that suffering is essential and conducive to spiritual growth. But new age spirituality exposed me to the teaching that this idea, that pain is a necessary ingredient in spiritual evolution, is an outdated teaching, and it’s actually possible to grow spiritually without having to go through pain. And i guess EFTers would agree with this teaching, as EFT is indeed a quick and painless method of healing one’s own issues.

I brought this up in supervision once, and interestingly, my supervisor who is a Buddhist, said that Buddhism does teach that life is suffering, and since that is the case, there is enough suffering for us and there’s nothing wrong with trying to lessen it. So he seems to be hinting that if we can alleviate our suffering, why not? In fact the monk who learnt EFT also said something similar – that Buddha taught us to liberate ourselves from suffering, and that’s what EFT is all about.

I guess at this point, i really don’t see anything wrong with that either. And i guess spiritual evolution is something that cannot be hindered by human efforts, except for the person himself who is on his own spiritual journey. So EFT can’t possibly make it possible for pple to bypass spiritual lessons… there’s prob no such thing, cos if a person has certain spiritual lessons to learn in this lifetime, he would be presented with the exact kind of conditons for him to learn them, and it doesn’t make sense for a self-help technique to steer them in the wrong direction?

Hmm… i don’t know if that makes sense to any of you, but it does to me, so i have happily answered my own question. Well, it’s been a real enlightening 3 days for me, and the timing is fantastic cos i haven’t been feeling confident in my work for the past week or so (“coincidentally”, my clients have also been not turning up for sessions). Now, i believe i have a newfound sense of direction for my work… and hey, there’s still the quantum hypnotherapy to look forward to this weekend! Guess the universe is making sure that i learn what i need to do my work well…. for that, i’m truly grateful.

In fact, this work also includes my work as a parent to little boy, and i guess this 3 day course has definitely enlightened me on what to do and what NOT to do to make sure he doesn’t grow up needing schema therapy in future. So i repeat again, since Mr Gua Gua will be reading this, the types of parenting that can lead to the internalization of maladaptive schemas:

1) Detached, rejecting, cold (guess this is not much of a prob for Mr Gua Gua, though i can be emotionally erratic at times which will hopefully be less frequent from now on)

2) Overprotective, undermining of child’s confidence (Mr Gua Gua, take note! And your parents too…allow little boy to make mistakes and learn from them!)

3) Permissiveness, overindulgence, making child feel superior to others (the latter esp apply to Mr Gua Gua who wants little boy to be king of the world..haha…but the rest, i guess, applies to us all, both sets of grandparents included)

4) Conditional acceptance (this, unfortunately is very common in the local culture, where you often hear parents and grandparents say things like, if you do this i won’t love you anymore. I am very aware of this and try not to say such things, but even at times, i’ll be tempted to threaten little boy with my anger if he disobeys me. And i have certainly heard both his grandmothers say such things plenty of times… hopefully our love for him is enough to compensate for this kind of behaviour)

5) Demanding, punitive (luckily, none of us are like this, and even my mum who comes closest to this balances it out by being very playful and caring with him, so it’s prob not much of a prob)

Well, despite the above, i guess no matter what, there’s no such thing as a perfect parent! And now that i do know the above, i’m confident that i’ll do well enough as a parent to make sure that little boy is not going to need schema therapy in future… heehee… 🙂

The healing powers of lightworkers

October 30, 2007 at 1:47 am | Posted in Pearls of wisdom | Leave a comment

The Healing Power of Lightworkers

a message from Doreen Virtue

Lightworkers are those who volunteered, before birth, to help the planet and its population heal from the effects of fear. Each lightworker is here for a sacred purpose. Very often, however, life on earth with its material focus creates a form of amnesia in lightworkers. They then forget their divine and perfect identities, and also their abilities to miraculously help the earth and all living creatures. When lightworkers forget their true identity and purpose, they feel lost and afraid.

Your are a lightworker if you: feel called to heal others; want to resolve the world’s social and environmental problems; believe that spiritual methods can heal any situation; have had mystical experiences, such as psychic premonitions or angelic encounters; have endured harsh life experiences that eroded the knowledge of your Divine perfection; want to heal your own life as a first step in healing the world;

feel compelled to write, teach, or counsel about your healing experiences, or feel a sense of time urgency to fulfill your mission before you know that you are here for a higher purpose, or even if you are unsure what it is or how to fulfill it.

Everywhere on the planet right now, lightworkers are awakening to faint memories about why they came to earth. They hear an inner calling that can’t be ignored. This call is a reminder that it is now time to stop toying with material dreams, and get to work.

Many lightworkers are discovering innate spiritual gifts, such as psychic communication skills and spiritual healing abilities. These are the gifts that we volunteered to use to heal the earth and her population during the crucial decades surrounding the millennium.

Prophecies predicted our coming, and now it is time for us to fulfill our Divine purposes. The world depends upon us!

We who are lightworkers don’t necessarily need to add anything to ourselves to prepare for our mission. We already have innate abilities, even if they are presently dormant. Instead, we need to work on releasing fears which keep us from feeling confident in our lightworker abilities. When you remind yourself that your power as a lightworker comes from your higher self and God (not from “you”) you automatically feel more assured of your abilities as a spiritual healer.

With our focused intent, thought, and spirit, we can heal anything. There are no limits, except those we place upon our healing abilities.

We definitely can heal the earth with our spiritual approach.
In fact, scientists have recently demonstrated that people can change water and air temperature and also cloud structures, purely through their thoughts. Researchers have known for years that prayer positively affects plants and animals. These studies reveal something that many lightworkers have already known: our collective prayers and healing thoughts can avert prophecies of world trauma.

There is only one spirit and one mind, and we are all part of this collective intelligence and love. Miraculous results in scientific laboratories are demonstrating the factual basis of the oneness of all life. Not long ago, U.S. and Japanese scientists hooked-up test subjects to blood pressure and heart monitor machines. Simultaneously, in separate and sealed rooms, other test subjects were asked to think loving or angry thoughts about the people hooked-up to the machines. At the exact instant when a subject held a loving thought, the monitored person’s blood pressure and heart rate significantly dropped. And then, at the precise moment when an angry thought was projected, the person’s vital signs skyrocketed upward.

We who are lightworkers are already aware of the power of our thoughts.
What we are continuing to learn, however, is that our thoughts are even more powerful than we suspected! A large part of our lightworker function, then, is to continuously monitor our own thoughts to ensure that they are from a high and loving plane. When we occasionally slip into fearful or judgmental thoughts, we can release these thought forms to the angels who surround us, knowing that these spiritual companions want to help us fulfill our sacred purpose.

If your intuition is urging you toward a healing function, you can be sure that this is a Divine voice and not just wishful thinking. In recent years, a spiritual call has been broadcast-like a psychic “help wanted” ad-asking for lightworkers to awaken to their healing roles. Those who have heard the call sometimes contact me, asking for reassurance that this inner voice isn’t setting them up for disappointment or possible failure.

I can certainly understand this fear, since I experienced it myself. When I was a young mother of two and an uneducated housewife, I began having spontaneous visions in which I saw myself as a healer and author. These visions frightened me, because I didn’t think that I had the time, money, or intelligence to succeed. So I began overeating to silence the inner voice and visions. I didn’t feel ready or qualified to awaken to my mission.

What I was doing was the equivalent of pushing the “snooze button” on my spiritual alarm clock. Overeating was my way of delaying God’s plan for me, because food would temporarily drown out the sound and sight of my Divine life plan. I gained nearly 50 pounds before I finally surrendered to the Creator and asked for help in making my inner vision a reality. I discovered that as soon as I committed to following my life purpose, doors opened up for me in succession. In miraculous ways that I could never have planned for, everything in my visions became a reality.

We cannot fail when we accept the mission we chose for ourselves prior to incarnation.
The power and intelligence of the One mind makes no mistakes. We would not have been assigned our lightworker role, were we not perfectly qualified. Since we are made in the image and likeness of One who is all-knowing, all-loving, and able to heal anything, we can relax in the sure knowledge that we were born to heal.

“O! the one Life within us and abroad,
Which meets all motion and becomes its soul,
A light in sound, a sound-like power in light,
Rhythm in all thought, and joyance every where”

The Eolian Harp
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Where to find the best durian cake

October 27, 2007 at 2:03 am | Posted in GuaGua adventures | 5 Comments

Our anniversary celebration was a simple but sweet one. It started really late cos Mr Gua Gua actually went out to buy my pressies, with his defense being he had to order them as they were not in stock. Fortunately he redeemed himself by choosing me gifts that i really liked and would find useful – a stylish leather (synthetic) bag for weekends (instead of the bright blue schoolbag that i carry to work everyday) that is big enough to contain my 1 litre waterbottle which is an essential, as well as a Little Prince watch, with a white strap and a picture of the Little Prince that comes with greenish background (green being my fave colour). The latter is smth i really love, cos of the storybook and whimsical pictures, and now i can refer to my watch during my sessions with clients, instead of having to estimate the time in my head or actually bringing a small clock with me into the counselling room. So well done Mr Gua Gua, for the tasteful choices, and thank you for not buying me Gua Gua gifts this time round! 🙂

I had wanted to try out an organic vegetarian cafe for lunch as my colleague has bought some food to the office before and the veggie wrap that i sampled was so good that my lunch seemed heavy and artificial-tasting in comparison. Organic is really different… whether you think going organic is a necessity or just something that’s been overhyped, there’s just no denying that organic foods taste richer and sweeter, without the need of additional seasonings at all. The freshness of the veggies in the wrap combined with a zesty dressing just burst in my mouth, tantelizing my tastebuds without overwhelming. Too bad we started the day late, so have to check the cafe next time. It’s next to Aljunied MRT, address unknown – perhaps you guys may keep a look out for it if you pass by the area.

Instead, we went to a Taiwanese cafe at Cathay Cineleisure for a quick bite before our movie. In my opinion, it’s more presentation than anything else. The environment was comfortable and Mr Gua Gua enjoyed the Chinese songs playing in the background, but the food was so-so and i cld definitely find better foods elsewhere at a fraction of the price. Whatmore, later i was quite thirsty so i think they prob added MSG to the food. That’s prob my first and last visit to this place.

We watched The Seeker which was interesting in the first half of the movie but became very predictable and cliche with a too-good-to-be-true ending at the end. Perhaps cos it’s Harry-Potter style, i was disappointed that the plot was quite straightforward (even though i didn’t guess that the 6th sign was ____ – better not spoil the ending for you guys) and the characters rather 2-D, unlike Harry Potter with its multiple plot twists and complex characters. Mr Gua Gua told me it’s based on a bestselling children’s book, and i guess it’s for children after all, whereas Harry Potter started off as a children’s book and became more geared towards the adults later on, so can’t really compare, though it’s hard not to when both movies are in the same genre. There really are a lot of fantasy/adventure movies coming out these days, ever since Harry Potter and Narnia. We watched trailers of another 2 more coming up, one of which seemingly a potential must-see, starring Nicole Kidman as the evil guy. Shall keep a lookout for it in the cinemas.

After the movie we went for our feast. Initially i wanted us to go to Oscar’s as i saw a gd review of it in the papers and Mr Gua Gua’s budget is sup to something like the sky’s the limit. But i somehow thought Oscar’s was the restaurant we passed by the other day and we both thought it looked good, and after some confusing discussion with Mr Gua Gua abt the location of the restaurant, we realised that that restaurant was actually the one in Hotel Rendevous. After some thought, i decided to go to the latter instead, since we had wanted to try that out too, and Oscar’s was really pricey, at $50+ per pax, and after Mr Gua Gua’s splurges on my pressies, i thought i better give his wallet a break. 😛

It turned out to be a really gd decision cos the food was excellent. What i liked was that there wasn’t the usual starchy or meaty stuff like pasta, potato stuff, noodles, etc. There was only chicken rice and a few trays of diff meats, but that was it, and Mr Gua Gua and i hardly touched those. We went for the Japanese food and seafood section – the flower crabs were absolutely yummy, and of cos, we had sashimi. I haven’t eaten crabs for a long long time (esp since most crabby dishes out there are live) so i spent quite some time enjoying the flower crabs, and the good thing is the shell is thin enough to bite through, so it wasn’t too much of a pain to get to the sweet flesh inside.

Personally i also liked the salad section though i’m not sure if it was the esp good selection/combi of veggies or just me enjoying the fact that i could return to my old days of starting any feasting with salads, without little boy around where i wld feel compelled to zoom straight into the main dishes in case there isn’t enough time to eat before little boy starts acting out!

However what was the undeniably good section was…. you can prob guess, the dessert section! The range was amazing, with the soupy stuff, kuehs, cakes, chocolates, icecream, chocolate fondue with choice of fruits, and those little shot glasses containing different kinds of delectable looking concoctions. Mr Gua Gua and i both chose the one containing raspberries, and it was absolutely delish! Too bad we were already quite full and cldn’t really have a blast with the desserts, but thank gdness i still had space for their famous durian cake, and GOSH… it was so light, fluffy and yet, so rich with the durian flavour at the same time, that it gave me multiple food orgasms. No kidding… It’s a pity that little boy wasn’t here, cos with his new fantastic appetite, i think he wld have enjoyed the food, esp the durian cake. But after hearing my rave reviews abt the buffet, i think my mum may treat us there for my sis’s birthday which is coming up in Nov, so little boy may get his chance after all… better get my camera fixed up before that so i cld capture his expression upon taking his first bite of the durian cake! Wld definitely see an index finger up – or two!

Well, it was really a simple day, but a special one as well. I wldn’t have enjoyed the feasting so much if i was eating with anyone else but Mr Gua Gua – nothing enhances good food better than good company. Even though if his jokes can be lame and repetitive at times (plus always themed around the same annoying subjects), he still makes me laugh my head off, and of cos, it’s always nice to dig into food with someone who is also a glutton just like you. 🙂

So thanks Mr Gua Gua for the lovely presents, the simple but nice day with the fantastic feast at the end, and most of all, for your unconditional love and support. Even if i may moan and groan about all your flaws and annoying idiosyncracies at times, at the end of the day, i still count my blessings that i have you at my side to journey together with in this life. Thanks for your infinite tolerance (ya i do know i’m a pain at times!) and for always choosing to see my positive qualities, esp when i choose to focus on the negative. Love you…and hope we will live to be like that old couple in that French movie, Love me love me not, where we will enjoy the sun together and exchange sweets. 

So please continue to take your vitamins, sleep early, and start doing some exercise… !

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