Transforming the Critic: Working with Self-Dislike, Punitiveness & Perfectionism

We all have an inner critic, which manifests as a stream of self-critical, perfectionistic or sometime highly punitive, aggressive thoughts. In schema therapy the Critic is one of the key modes that we identify and work with, as it often causes clients considerable distress. We formulate this Critic as being either a Punitive Parent or Demanding Parent. This might be an introject of an abusive, cold, excessively demanding or harshly critical parent or other family member, or it may just be a way of thinking about the self originating in childhood that takes the form of a pushy or bullying internal parent, targeting the Vulnerable Child mode.

A Punitive Parent expresses strong dislike of and aggressively attacks this young, vulnerable, emotional mode, with harshly critical thoughts like, ‘You’re pathetic/worthless/ugly/unlovable’. Demanding Parents are less toxic, but are often perfectionistic and push clients to achieve excessively high standards, with messages to the Vulnerable Child like, ‘Nothing you do is good enough,’ ‘If you weren’t so lazy you would have got the A*’, or ‘You really need to work harder! Just 10 hours a day won’t impress anyone.’

This one-day workshop will teach you:

  • How to identify and formulate the Critic using a ‘mode map’

  • The bullying, intrapsychic parent-child relationship with a person’s Vulnerable Child mode

  • Why the Critic might be a significant factor in your clients’ depression, chronic stress, anxiety disorders, relationship breakdowns, eating disorders or addiction

  • How to use chair work, imagery and other experiential techniques to transform a destructive Critic into a constructive Coach mode

  • The most effective cognitive techniques and metaphors to help your clients tackle the cognitive components of their Critic, such as negative beliefs or self-concepts

  • Why we need to formulate and work differently with Critics that are highly punitive or abusive, which can trigger self-harm or suicidal impulses/behaviour

Through a combination of didactic teaching, small group work, discussion, video/live demonstrations and skills practice, you will gain confidence in using these effective ways of formulating and tackling problems to help your own clients, whichever setting or modality you work in.

If you would like me to teach this workshop for your organisation, call me on 07766 704210, email me or use the contact form to get in touch.

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