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David Edwards

David Edwards

  • Biography

    David Edwards is an Emeritus Professor at Rhodes University in South Africa, where, for over 25 years, he taught cognitive-behavioural therapy (including schema therapy) to trainee clinical and counselling psychologists. He also taught group therapy and offered intensive workshops to students using expressive therapies including psychodrama, clay sculpture, drawing and dance. Since his retirement, at the end of 2009, he continues to work as a researcher and research supervisor.
    He is a Clinical Psychologist in South Africa and the United Kingdom and has an active private practice offering psychotherapy. He trained in cognitive-behavioural, humanistic and transpersonal approaches to psychotherapy, and has a longstanding interest in psychotherapy integration. In the 1980s, he did a postdoctoral year with Aaron Beck in Philadelphia, where he first met Jeffrey Young and learned about his early ideas about schema therapy. He is certified as a Trainer and Supervisor by the International Society of Schema Therapy (ISST) both for individuals and couples.
    Through the Schema Therapy Institute of South Africa, he presents basic and advanced training workshops and supervision in schema therapy locally and internationally. Within the ISST he served on the CCC (now the Ethics and Conflict Resolution) Committee, and is currently chair of the Case Conceptualization Committee. He was ISST President from 2016-2020.
    He has over 100 academic publications in the form of journal articles and book chapters. In 2022 he published an article on the use of schema modes in case conceptualization (open access at
    ). He has promoted the use of case studies as a research method in psychotherapy and has published several case studies, with many focusing on psychotherapy for trauma and complex trauma, and the application of schema therapy to complex cases. His most recent case study is open access at

  • What are the scripts we target in rescripting and how do they relate to schemas and modes?

    Schema therapists use imagery rescripting, to help clients to change their existing scripts. The concept of script has a long history outside psychology, in the theatre, and in information theory. Within academic psychology it was explored in the extensive work of Silvan Tomkins (1911-1991) and, in psychotherapy, in the work of Eric Berne (1910-1970) and those who further developed Transactional Analysis after his death. In this workshop we will examine what scripts are and how they relate to the foundational concepts in schema therapy: Early Maladaptive Schemas and Schema Modes. An understanding of scripts gives us insight into the personal meanings associated with schema modes. Once in place, scripts tend to run automatically with limited control from self-awareness. Uncovering script patterns, and understanding their nature and content, provides a foundation for working strategically towards helping clients change scripts that contribute to ways of experiencing and behaving that are limiting, harmful and self-defeating. All schema modes have scripts. Primary Child (Vulnerable, Angry) modes have, at their centre, a primary distressing emotional state such as sadness, abandonment, shame, anger. These have scripts that capture the meaning and action tendency of the primary emotion. Authentic Child modes have implicit action scripts for creativity and personal development. The scripts of Parent modes are messages directed at the child that were explicitly put into words or implicitly conveyed through the parent’s nonverbal behaviour. It is a standard practice for therapists to do a rescript to protect a Child from these kinds of harmful influences. However, this can have limited impact because the Parent messages, in turn, have their source in the scripts of the parent who sent them. These may themselves be complex coping scripts that incorporate family and cultural patterns that are intergenerational. To fully free the Child from the grip of the parent, these intergenerational scripts may need to be understood and addressed. Coping modes have scripts related to how they are set up to help individuals cope with adversity. Typically, these scripts were set up in childhood, often early childhood or even infancy. We work with these by helping clients see how they often emerged in a family context very different from the one in which the individual lives now, but they still run in the same way. This can help clients make a new decision from the Healthy Adult about how to cope differently in the present. The aim of this workshop is to show how a fuller understanding of the script of each mode provides us with a stronger toolkit for rescripting. This, helps to strengthen the Healthy Adult, which we can think of as a metascript, or set of metascripts, which equate with what has traditionally been called “wisdom.” This kind of script analysis will be illustrated with clinical examples, and participants will have the opportunity to do practical exercises in relation to themselves or their own cases using the perspectives being presented.

  • Conceptualizing and assessing the Healthy Adult within the context of schema therapy practice

    Co-presented with George Lockwood, Poul Perris, Tijana Mirovic
    This panel discussion will focus on conceptual and practical aspects of the process of assessing a client’s healthy adult functioning in preparation for schema therapy. The Healthy Adult is best thought of as not a single mode, but a suite of healthy capacities or strengths that, when viewed together, characterize how a psychologically mature adult would think, feel and behave towards self and others. The ISST’s 2024 Case Conceptualization Form provides a framework for conceptualizing the Healthy Adult Mode with considerable breadth and depth, using eight broad categories.
    David Edwards will discuss how these categories were arrived at. The nature of mature human functioning has always been of interest and concern within psychology and contributions will be reviewed from Alfred Adler’s community feeling, Carl Roger’s fully functioning person, Abraham Maslow’s self-actualizing personality, and those who have drawn on the traditional concept of wisdom as elaborated, for example, in the Berlin wisdom paradigm of Baltes, Linden and others. Within schema therapy, these perspectives are the foundation of Bernstein’s 16 qualities of the Healthy Adult portrayed in a set of illustrated iModes cards. More recently, the DSM-5 and ICD-11 diagnostic systems, in moving away from classifying personality disorders using a limited set of categories, have identified a range of dimensions of mature and healthy functioning which, taken together, offer a view of mature human functioning which is comprehensive, and evidence-based, and does justice to the complexity of human personality.
    The eight categories for evaluating the Healthy Adult in the latest ISST case conceptualization form offer an attempt to synthesize these capacities into a manageable form for assessment of the Healthy Adult in clients along dimensions that are clinically relevant in that they directly impact case conceptualization and the effectiveness of therapy interventions.
    On the basis of this, Poul Perris will describe a clinical tool for assessing these capacities: “My Healthy Adult Capacities in a specific Life Area/Relationship.” It is based on eight different statements relating to each of the eight categories from the case conceptualization form (64 in all). Based on a development process in which feedback was provided by clients and therapists, he will offer practical guidelines on how to implement this in clinical practice, both in the initial assessment process, and more generally, when conceptualizing the challenges presented by clients whose therapy does not proceed smoothly.
    George Lockwood will draw on his experience in contributing to the development of the Positive Parenting Schema Inventory (PPSI) and the Young Positive Schema Questionnaire (YPSQ) and his clinical use of the PPSI, YPSQ and the International Personality Item Pool-NEO in the case conceptualization process to comment further on this discussion and to highlight the practical aspects of evaluating healthy adult functioning within the schema therapy process.
    Tijana Mirovic will act as discussant, presenting her reaction to the material presented with a focus on the practical implications and challenges for trainers and supervisors.

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