Associate Professor Christopher Lee works in private practise and at the University of Western Australia. He conducts therapist training workshops on personality disorders and trauma treatments throughout Australia and overseas He is a certified trainer by both the international society of schema therapists and the EMDR international association. He has published research on personality disorders, assessment of schemas, treatment of depression, and PTSD. This includes studies where he was a principal investigator in three international multi-centred randomised controlled trials, two in treating complex PTSD and one treating borderline personality disorder. He has received two International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and three EMDR international association awards for research excellence. The most recent in 2019. In 2011, the Australian Psychological Society presented him the Ian Campbell memorial award for contributions as a science-practitioner to psychology.
Trauma map to enhance schema conceptualisation
According to schema theory, the key to schema change is to understand the origins of an early maladaptive schema and reprocess core memories where important developmental needs were not met. Similarly maladaptive modes are considered to have developed from adverse experiences. The presentation will focus on describing how schema theory and trauma information processing models can help clinicians identify the critical details of each of these core memories. Participants will then be shown how this model can be used to create a schema map, which is a visual representation of how these core experiences are linked and how they relate to a client’s symptoms. Schema maps were central in the formulation process of treating clients in the IREM and in the current IREM-freq studies. In these studies adults with PTSD from childhood were treated with either imagery rescripting IR or EMDR.
Participants will watch a demonstration and then practise using the trauma map in the workshop using their own client experiences. In the original IREM study, 155 clients from 3 countries received either IR or EMDR. In this RCT people were treated for 12 1.5-hour sessions in 6-8 weeks. The average age of the participants was 38 and the average age of the main identified trauma was 8. 25% of partcipants reported experiencing over 1000 traumas
In the IREM study, both treatments resulted in large and significant reduction in PTSD and other symptom measures. For example, 81% of participants no longer met criteria for PTSD one year after completing therapy.
The schema map, which was designed to improve schema conceptualisation for various conditions, has a number of advantages as a formulation tool. These include that it is an associative based technique (therefore more emotional), it increases activation of memory network which promotes generalisation, it helps extract key components from each core memory, it provides psychological distance while doing a trauma history and it facilitates client insights on how experiences shaped beliefs, feelings and behaviours. In a study of clients with chronic difficulties, it was found to be well tolerated (only 7% treatment dropout) and the subsequent treatments were found to have very large effect sizes.