Advancing Your Schema Work: Modes and More

You know what a schema is, you can conceptualise a schema-driven problem, you have a repertoire of basic schema-change strategies. What next?

This workshop will take you beyond the schema basics and help you develop more complex conceptualisations where multiple schemata interplay, and have more experiential schema-change techniques to help overcome the head/heart gap so common with deeply-held beliefs.  This is so relevant when working with patients with personality disorders and/or dissociative presentations where clusters of problem schemata seem to work in tandem giving rise to particularly powerful, inflexible beliefs and extreme behaviours. Sometimes conflicting clusters are activated – such as we see in the dichotomous thinking and contradictory behaviours of the patient with BPD.

Sarah will explore how to formulate these puzzling presentations and help you learn how to share your conceptualisations with your patients in ways that are engaging rather than alarming or alienating.  Indeed a thread of the whole workshop is maintaining engagement and motivation in patients with complex schema-driven presentations (and in therapists who are challenged by their patients!)

The workshop will draw on schema work developments of Beck, Padesky, Young and Arntz.  You will learn how Young conceptualises “schema domains” and “schema modes” (collections of synchronised schemata) and how this differs from Beck’s schema model of “modes”, and you will learn how these understandings can be complementary in helping patients with complex presentations.

The teaching will also highlight more experiential schema-change techniques, as well as how to use these powerful interventions in a safe and clinically-sensitive manner.  Sarah will present a review of the current literature on effective schema change with clinical materials to illustrate potential perks and pitfalls of using these techniques.

Attending this workshop will help you:

  • Understand the similarities and differences in the schema based approaches of Beck and Young
  • Conceptualize multiple schema-driven problems
  • Recognise inflexible beliefs and extreme behaviours
  • Understand the co-existence of contradictory beliefs and behaviours
  • Decide where to start and how to get the most out of your CBT skills
  • Develop and maintain an effective working alliance with patients with complex, schema-driven problems
  • Expand your repertoire of schema-change techniques
  • Use current evidence and idiosyncratic conceptualisation to implement these interventions safely and effectively


Sarah Rakovshik, Consultant Cognitive Behaviour Psychotherapist, Acting Head of OCTC

Sarah Rakovshik is the Director of the University of Oxford/ OCTC Postgraduate CBT Programme and the Acting Head of OCTC. She is an experienced therapist who has worked with a wide range of clinical disorders in both adults and children.  Her clinical interests include treatment of co-morbidity and complex presentations, as well as in the potentially positive effects of adverse life events. She holds a D.Phil. from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry. Her research has focused on training methods and their effects on therapists’ competence and patients’ outcomes. She has had an international role as a trainer, supervisor and consultant for CBT training programmes and research projects.

Additional Information

Cancellation & changes policy

If you cancel more than 14 days prior to your booked event, we will refund your fee minus a charge of 15% to cover our administration costs. We regret that cancellations 14 days or less before the booked event cannot be refunded or changed/transferred.

If you wish to change/transfer your booking after confirmation we will do our best to accommodate you if you notify us 14 days prior to your booked event, and if there is space to do so. However there will be an administration charge of £15 per change/transfer.


Workshops often contain clinical material. This is always anonymised as far as possible but delegates are none the less reminded to respect confidentiality.

All that is discussed in your therapy sessions will be treated as confidential, with the following exceptions.
We are required to seek supervision by our professional body (The British Psychological Society or equivalent) as a means of ensuring good practice. We will usually inform your referrer of your progress, but the details that we disclose will be discussed with you. We do have a statutory obligation to break confidentiality under rare circumstances, namely, if we believe that a client is of danger to themselves or to others (under the Mental Health Act, 2001) or if we believe that a child is at actual risk of physical or sexual abuse (The Children Act, Section 47, 1989).

If we felt that it would be helpful to request additional medical, social or legal information, we could only do this with your consent. Similarly, should another medical, social or legal professional request information from us, we would not release this without your consent.


OCTC makes every effort to ensure that this programme is delivered as advertised. However, should a presenter have to cancel, we will endeavour to find another suitable presenter. We will inform attendees as soon as is reasonably practical and, if requested, will offer a refund. In the rare event that we are unable to substitute a presenter, we may cancel a workshop and refund payments already made by attendees. OCTC will not refund travel and accommodation costs that attendees may incur.
All the workshops in this programme are carried out by highly experienced therapists and trainers. The individual presenter is responsible for the content of the workshop and any views expressed do not necessarily represent those of OCTC.
Although highly informative, none of the open workshops or workshop series confer a formal qualification or assurance of competence in CBT (or a specialist area of CBT) since we are unable to assess attendee competency within the training event. However, credit and award-bearing courses that lead to formal qualifications are offered by OCTC in conjunction with the University of Oxford. More about these courses is available on our website

Levels of competence

Before booking a place on a workshop, please ensure that it is pitched at the appropriate level of competence for you. The guide to levels is as follows:


Basic workshops are for people from a variety of backgrounds, who have at least one year’s clinical experience. Cognitive behavioural knowledge is not necessary for attendance at these workshops, though in practice, a number of attendees will have some skills in the area, and are refreshing/updating their knowledge.


Intermediate workshops are directed towards people who already have knowledge of CBT, and experience in using cognitive formulations and treatment methods – for instance, they are able to identify and test automatic thoughts, and design behavioural experiments. Most participants will be using CBT as part of their clinical practice, and may still be acquiring new CBT skills.


Advanced courses are directed towards those professionals who use CBT routinely as part of their clinical practice. They have probably undertaken a significant number of training courses and/or workshops, and use a broad range of cognitive behavioural strategies to work with a range of presentations at varying levels of complexity.

Making reservations

Bookings can only be considered confirmed after we have received your online registration or application form and payment (or invoicing details, including an official purchase order document). Please note that registration to workshops closes 7 days prior to the event date.

If you are booking a workshop place for someone else, you must complete your own details in the billing field, but ENTER THE WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS NAME/ADDRESS in the shipping field. If you wish to order items using a paper order form instead of online, you can view or download an order form in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. Once downloaded, print it out, fill it in, and send off with your payment [cheque made payable to OXFORD HEALTH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST] to the address on the form.


The cost of the workshops includes hot drinks on arrival, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, but not usually lunch unless stated. However, for workshops that do include lunch, if you have any special dietary requirements please let us know at the time of application.

Special needs

We welcome applications from diverse backgrounds. If you have any particular needs, please contact us
prior to booking.