Couples ST- modules overview

The Schema Therapy for couples (ST-C) Module System (by Eckhard Roediger)

The modules described below are meant to guide you step by step through a strategically focused therapy process with a couple. They are based on the idea starting with the mode cycle presented in the first session without a prior diagnostic phase. The full model is outlined in the book “Schema Therapy with couples” published by Wiley*. Together with the content of the book and our ST-C training workshops the modules will enable you to “start working under fire” in a surprisingly effective way.

The underlying assumptions (in a nutshell):

  • The main interactional problem of the couple is getting stuck in their default mode cycle.
  • This mode cycle represents a rigid and persisting dysfunctional interactional pattern.
  • The pattern remains the same while the content changes. Thus we ignore all kind of content but solely focus on the presented cycle as the “common enemy” both partners contribute to.
  • In the sessions the couple plays out their default mode cycles too.
  • We work most effectively if we focus on the dysfunctional mode cycle presented in-session, because it is present in the here and now of the therapy room visible for everybody.
  • We try to work with the interaction in the present moment. We only ask for the most important social data, introduce the model and avoid going to past problems.
  • Once the couple learned to identify and stop the cycle, re-balance themselves and shift to a problem-solving oriented interaction pattern they are able to deal with any critical content.
  • We access the most relevant schemas fueling the presented mode cycle by conjoint imagery exercises. To some extend this replaces an intital diagnostic phase. The rescripting part includes a reparenting by the observing partner This strenghtens the emotional bond (see Roediger et al., 2018)
  • If we get stuck with the couple because one (or both) partner(s) is not able to leave their role in the cycle we can offer individual sessions to work with the individual under safer conditions. Then we might go deeper into the biographical background (e.g. underlying schemas).
  • We try to share content from individual sessions as much as possible in the following conjoint session to strengthen the bond of understanding within the couple.
  • The goal of therapy is accomplished once the couple learend to solve their problems in the best possible way by using the connection dialogue skills.

Overview about the modules:

The Couples Therapy Module system 1 The Couples Therapy Module system 2

The course of therapy:

  • The introductory part are the modules 1 to 4. With a functional couple they can be covered in the first two or three sessions.
  • If both partners are able to re-balance themselves in a functional way you can go directly to modules 9 to 12. Then the therapy might not take longer than 8 to 12 sessions.
  • If one partner fails to re-balance go to modules 5 and 6 (externalizers) to get access to the vulnerable side or to modules 7 and 8 (internalizers) to strengthen the assertive side.
  • If the client cannot access the blocked side in the presence of their partner offer individual sessions in the required amount, if necessary for both partners on parallel tracks. Once they are able to get into a balanced state continue with module 9 to 12.
  • If a separation becomes more likely go to module 13

The ST-C-Modules are:

  1. SCT-Module 1 - Explaining the simplified "two leg" model
  2. STC Module 2 - Introducing the Mode Cycle Clashcard
  3. STC Module 3 - Stopping mode clashes
  4. STC Module 4 - Re-balancing after „time-out“
  5. STC Module 5 - Accessing the vulnerable side
  6. STC Module 6 - Honeymoon imagery
  7. STC module 7 - Accessing the assertive side
  8. STC Module 8 - Empowerment imagery exercise
  9. STC Module 9 - Reconnecting through conjoint imagery
  10. STC Module 10 - Training the healthy adult mode
  11. STC Module 11 - Connection dialogue
  12. STC Module 12 - Homework assignments
  13. STC Module 13 - Preparing a separation

Optional modules
Module - Dealing with intruding critic voices or beliefs

Module - Dealing with strong emotions or hurting

Video tutorial how to explain the Still face-Video to the couples

*Simeone-DiFrancesco, C., Roediger, E., & Stevens, B. (2015). Schema Therapy with Couples.
A Practitioner’s Guide to Healing Relationships. Oxford-New York: Wiley.