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Alexandra Schosser

Alexandra Schosser


  • Working with horses in schema therapy: Equine-assisted schema therapy to empower healthy modes

    Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is a form of therapy that incorporates horses to treat human psychological problems in and around an equestrian facility. It is not the same as therapeutic riding or hippotherapy, thus participants do not go on horseback. Instead, the horse(s) are usually unsaddled and free to move closer or farther away from the client, and vice versa. EAP can be an effective supplement to mental health treatment, including schema therapy. The incorporation of animals in mental health treatment has a long history, and animal-assisted psychotherapy can be an evidence-based complementary treatment to traditional psychotherapy. Animals can aid in healing emotional and behavioural conditions. They can provide a source of comfort, consistency and mutual nurturance, giving support to both the mind and the body. Horses can help people with their well-being and nurturing interactions with horses allow humans to practice, among others, emotional regulation, problem-solving skills, social skills and empathy. Horses also sense our emotions and mirror them back, offering people a way to talk about their own emotions without feeling as overwhelmed or judged. EAP can be used for a variety of mental health conditions including depression, PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, substance abuse, social anxiety disorder, ADHD, or autism. Working with horse(s) can be a helpful supplement in schema therapy, e.g. for emotional activation, diagnostic clarification, mode awareness, developing future prospects, and especially empowering healthy modes. This workshop will introduce into the concept of equine-assisted schema therapy and present techniques (including video demonstrations) to work with horses in a schema therapeutic treatment setting.

  • Genome-wide therapygenetic study of an international multicentre RCT on schema therapy for borderline personality disorder

    The field of therapygenetics refers to the prediction of psychotherapeutic therapy outcomes from genetic markers. The current study is, to our knowledge, the first therapygenetic study investigating genes predicting treatment response in borderline personality disorder (BPD) on a genome-wide level. We aim to identify genes predicting treatment response to psychotherapeutic treatment (schema therapy vs. treatment as usual) by analysing the genome-wide association study (GWAS) data of the, so far, largest randomized-controlled trial (RCT, 495 participants) on effectiveness of schema therapy in BPD (Arntz et al. 2022). We plan to investigate genes associated with treatment response phenotypes applying a polygenic risk score analysis (PRS) and a gene-set analysis (GSA) approach. PRS is a method which allows an individual’s genetic loading for a trait to be calculated using genome-wide SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) data and the output of GWAS summary statistics of another study of the same or related phenotype. It can be of clinical use in predicting traits in independent samples, including treatment response. In addition, GSA of pre-defined treatment response candidate genes such as 5-HTTLPR (serotonin transporter polymorphism) and BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), and subsequent explorative gene-wide single-marker analyses in order to extent the results of the GSA will be performed. The detailed study design and first results of the study will be presented. Identifying reliable associations between blood biomarkers and treatment response to psychotherapeutic treatments would have a major impact on clinical practice and patient care. Patients at high risk for non-response could be identified and obtain alternative treatment at an early stage, potentially enhancing the success rate of psychotherapeutic treatment programs. In addition, knowledge about the processes related to genetic markers will help us to develop better treatments, especially for those that don’t respond well to current treatments.

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