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Dealings with your own addictions as a therapist 

by Michiel van Vreeswijk, Michiel Boog & Klaartje van Hest


Therapists are at a risk for burn out due to the emotional demands of working with difficult patients. Coping with emotions and the stories of your patients and your workload will probably not always done from a Healthy adult perspective. Addiction is not uncommon in health professionals and probably we all have some form of addiction.

Schema therapy is increasingly used in addiction care. Are the insights obtained in our work with addicted patients applicable to health care professionals?

For some of therapist an addiction will be mildly present and for others it will be more severe. Do we acknowledge our addiction to ourselves and do we talk openly about it with our colleagues? How does it affect the therapies which we are giving? Do we dare to ask about things which might feel shameful even to ourselves? Participants are explicitly invited to share their addictions and their schema and mode triggering in daily live, professional live and during the workshop.

Learning Objectives:

*Becoming aware of your own addictions and how it subtly influences your work life

*Becoming less ashamed of talking about your own addictions and that of patients

Teaching Methods:

This workshop will from the start be experiential as participants are asked to share their emotions and thoughts in the group. Schema therapy techniques will be used to experience which schemas and modes are being triggered in relation to addiction. Imagery (with re-scripting), chair technique and historical role play will be used.

Target Audience:

Mental health care professionals giving ST

Level of Experience Required for Participants: 

Intermediate / Advanced ST Therapists

Implications for everyday clinical practice in Schema Therapy:

Therapists who are more aware of their schemas and modes triggering and dealing with it in a way like having some form of addiction can be better able to not only take care of the patient but also of themselves.

Relevant Background Readings on Topic:

-Kersten, T. (2012). Schema therapy in personality disorders and addiction. The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Schematherapy. Chicester, John Wiley & Sons, 415-424.

-Boog, M., Van Hest, K. M., Drescher, T., Verschuur, M. J., & Franken, I. H. (2018). Schema modes and personality disorder symptoms in alcohol-dependent and cocaine-dependent patients. European Addiction Research, 24(5), 226-233.

-Angres, D., Bologeorges, S., & Chou, J. (2013). A two year longitudinal outcome study of addicted health care professionals: an investigation of the role of personality variables. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, 7, SART-S10556.

-Ghelani, A. (2021). Motives for recreational cannabis use among mental health professionals. Journal of Substance Use, 26(3), 256-260.


About the Presenters:

Michiel van Vreeswijk

Michiel van Vreeswijk, MSc is clinical psychologist and CEO of G-Kracht Mental Health Care Institute, The Netherlands. He is a certified supervisor and personal therapist in cognitive behavioral therapy (VGCt), certified supervisor schematherapy individual and group schema therapy (ISST, Dutch society of ST) and specialist group therapy (Dutch society of group psychotherapie: NVGP). Michiel van Vreeswijk gives regularly schema therapy workshops/ supervision/ personal therapy in the Netherlands and worldwide. He is (co-) author/ editor of several schema books/ chapters/ articles.

Michiel Boog

Michiel Boog, PhD is clinical psychologist and is a certified advanced level schema therapist (Dutch society of ST) who works at Antes in the Netherlands. He is an expert in the treatment of patients with a substance use disorder. Michiel Boog has worked closely together with Hannie van Genderen and Arnoud Arntz on the development of a schema therapy program for patients with a substance use disorder.

Klaartje van Hest

Klaartje van Hest is clinical psychologist. She is a certified advanced level schema therapist (Dutch society of ST) an advanced level group therapist (Dutch society NVGP) and a cognitive behavioral therapist (VGCt). She works at both Antes and G-kracht Mental Health Care Institute, The Netherlands. Her core business is working with patients with addition and personality disorders in an intensive outpatient treatment.

Why Schema Therapy?

Schema therapy has been extensively researched to effectively treat a wide variety of typically treatment resistant conditions, including Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Read our summary of the latest research comparing the dramatic results of schema therapy compared to other standard models of psychotherapy.

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