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Dr Helen Kennerley

Schemata: A user's guide

9th November 2021

Helen Kennerley DPhil is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and founding fellow of the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre (OCTC)

Online CBT workshop 09.30 to 16.30 UK time

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Dr Helen Kennerley

Schemata: A user's guide


Schemata are not new. The theoretical concept of psychological schemata has been with us since the 1920s and they are well established as fundamental to information and emotional processing in all of us.

Their relevance to CBT practice was noted by Beck in the mid-1970s, and some decades later, they assumed a more prominent role in CBT practice with the advent of therapists working with patients with particularly rigid and complex difficulties.

Yet within the world of CBT there remain some confusions or disagreements with regard to the use of the term “schema” and without a clear and shared appreciation of this mental construct, it will be difficult to offer schema- focussed therapies that are consistent across practitioners.

This CBT workshop goes back into the world of general psychology and revisits the theoretical concept of schemata from the early 1900s and considers how this is relevant to contemporary practice of CBT.

Key Learning Objectives: 

By the end of this CBT workshop participants will be able to: 

-Define a psychological schema.

-Explain its relevance to the practice of CBT.

-Know when it is not necessary to engage in schema-focussed work.

-Use this understanding to make decisions about optimum formats of treatment delivery, for example, choosing amongst the options of schema-informed therapy or Beckian Schema-focussed Therapy or Young’s Schema Therapy.

Suggested reading

Williams M.J.M.G. (1997). “Schemata” in M.J.M.G. Williams et al (Eds) Cognitive psychology & emotional disorders  Wiley

Implications for clinical practice

Understanding what a schema is, and its relevance to information and emotional processing will enhance routine practice of CBT  

Practitioners will be better able to decide when it is not necessary to engage in schema focussed work and, when it is justifiable, to make decisions about optimum formats of treatment delivery.

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