Description: This book uses schema therapy to address borderline personality disorder in a group setting. It combines cognitive behavioral and experiential techniques, a relatively new approach, with randomized controlled studies beginning in 2008.
Purpose: The manual is intended as "a step-by-step guide for Group Schema Therapy (GST) with patients who have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)," and includes a collection of handouts, group exercises, and homework to use with patients.
Audience: Although a specific audience is not identified, the book is appropriate for practitioners as well as graduate students in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and social work. Joan Farrell, the codeveloper of GST, is the research and training director of the Center for BPD Treatment and Research at Indiana University, where Ida Shaw is an advanced level schema therapist/trainer for the program. The contributors, from the U.S, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, have years of experience working with patients with borderline personality disorder using schema therapy.
Features: After an introduction to using schema therapy with these individuals, a theoretical discussion of schema therapy notes how maladaptive schemas develop, resulting in poor coping skills. The goal of treatment is to develop healthy adults who will be able to achieve their core needs. The authors talk about therapeutic factors, similar to those that Irwin Yalom spoke of in his classic series, Group Psychotherapy. This book does a good job of describing how to begin these groups, including inclusion/exclusion criteria, optimal size, length of sessions/treatment, and group space, along with the stages that a typical group experiences. Next, it explores the therapy stages (1-3) in some depth. Finally, the book ends with a review of the research regarding schema therapy for borderline personality disorder. There is also a discussion of the applicability of group schema therapy to other cluster B and cluster C personality disorders. The book contains tables which are helpful in clarifying the text. Numerous shaded boxes provide extremely good examples and explanations of what the authors are discussing, titled "example" (both clinical and theoretical), "therapist tip," "therapist script example," and "patient handout," to name a few.
Assessment: This helpful book provides a step-by-step approach to learning group schema therapy. Written by experts in the field, it is easy to read and the shaded boxes provide wonderful information. The book should be in the libraries of therapists who deal with individuals diagnosed with personality disorders and/or have suicidal/self-injurious behaviors.