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|Borderline patients seem to benefit even more from group therapy than the already highly successful individual therapy. A study by Farrell, Shaw & Webber (2009) has shown that group Schema Therapy, offered alongside the usual treatment, resulted in 94% of patients, after a period of eight months, no longer meeting the criteria for a borderline personality disorder. A similar result was found in a clinical setting.
Group Schema Therapy (GST) is an interactive form of group therapy that combines aspects of directive group therapy with aspects of psycho-dynamic groups. GST makes extensive use of experiential techniques.
Why does group Schema Therapy work so well for borderline patients?
In addition to the general advantages of group therapy such as recognition, interpersonal learning and mutual support, group therapy offers a number of specific advantages compared to individual Schema Therapy, such as:
- There is a second ‘parent’ strengthening the limited reparenting aspect.
- Feedback from other people with BPD is far more credible to the patient than feedback from therapists.
- By recognising each other’s feelings and experiences, patients are apt to feel safer more quickly (in many cases, it’s the first time they don’t feel ‘different’ from the others) and develop more understanding for their own feelings and behaviour.
- Chairwork and role play can be carried out by more people.
- Confronting the punitive mode with the entire group has more impact.
- Working with the happy child mode facilitates breaking through the protector mode and strengthens a positive self-image.
- Working together and dividing the roles of the therapists.
- Creating safety and connectedness.
- Limited reparenting for everyone.
- Working with schema modes with the entire group: how do you turn a theme for one member into a theme for the entire group?
- Specific group techniques for the modes.
- Exercises for the happy child and developing the healthy adult.
- Managing the different stages in the group.