Change your thoughts - change your destiny!

What are mods in schema therapy?

Often, if we are in a particularly severe crisis, or experiencing abrupt changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviours, when many different maladaptive schemas are active, the therapist will choose to present and work with the client’s schema through a “mode model”. Modes are clusters of early maladpative schema and coping responses which may feel like distinct and quite different parts of ourselves (often in conflict).

In “mode model” it is customary to distinguish the following groups:

1. Dysfunctional child modes

Lonely, abandoned/abused, humiliated/inferior, dependent child modes

Angry, obstinate, enraged, impulsive, undisciplined child

2. Dysfunctional parent modes

Punitive parent mode

Demanding parent mode

3. Dysfunctional coping modes

Compliant surrender mode

Detached protector mode
Avoidant protector mode
Angry protector mode
Detached self-soothing mode

Self-aggrandizer mode
Attention-seeking mode
Perfectionistic overcontroller mode
Paranoid overcontroller mode
Bully and attack mode
Conning and manipulative mode
Predator mode

4. Functional, healthy modes

Happy child mode

Healthy adult mode

A brief description of each of these mods is provided below. Do any of these resonate with you?

Dysfunctional child modes


Lonely child
Feels lonely. Because the most important emotional needs of the child were mostly not satisfied. The patient, as a rule, feels emotionally devastated, socially unaccepted, isolated, unloved and unworthy of love, a person whom it is generally impossible to love.

Abandoned and abused child
Experiencing severe emotional pain and fear of abandonment and/or abuse. His feelings are similar to those of a lost child: sad, frightened, vulnerable, defenseless, needy, deceived, lost, in despair. Such patients give the impression of being very vulnerable, vulnerable and childlike. They feel helpless, absolutely lonely, and they seek to find “parents” who will take care of them.

Humiliated/inferior child
A subform of the abandoned and abused child mode. He has a less pronounced sense of abandonment, however, instead, he feels the humiliation and inferiority associated with the childhood experience gained in the family and beyond.

Dependent child
He feels unable to perform his duties and is overwhelmed by what an adult person must perform. He has a tendency to regress. Such people want to be cared for. The lack of development of independence is often associated with an authoritarian style of education.

Angry child 
Feels intense anger, irritation, frustration or impatience, because the basic emotional (or physical) needs of the vulnerable child were not met. "Protesting" against maltreatment and vents suppressed anger in inappropriate ways. May make demands that seem entitled or spoiled and which alienate others.

Obstinate child 
A subform of the angry child: feels angry, but does not manifest it openly, but instead passively resists unreasonable requests or violation of autonomy. Others may experience the patient as stubborn or extremely uncompromising.

Enraged child 
He is characterized by a strong feeling of anger, which leads to explosions of uncontrolled aggression (for example, to hurt other people or damage things). Such aggression goes beyond the control of a person and is intended to destroy the aggressor, sometimes in the truest sense of the word. The patient may be inherent in the behavior of an angry or uncontrolled child, screaming at (allegedly) the perpetrator.
Lack of discipline 

Impulsive child 
The characteristic of this mod is egoistic and uncontrollable actions aimed at satisfying own desires and impulses, while the possible consequences of such behavior for themselves and other people are completely ignored. In such mod, a person often has difficulty delaying a reward and may look like a “spoiled child.” Also, this mod does not like the lack of a sufficient number of pleasant activities and pleasure.

Undisciplined child 
He cannot force himself to complete routine and boring tasks, he quickly becomes disillusioned and gives up.


Dysfunctional parent modes 

Punitive parent mod 
This is the internalized voice of parents or other caregivers. Criticizes and punishes a person who, in turn, is angry at himself and feels worthy of punishment for having / expressing normal needs, because punished for this in childhood. The tone of this mod is strict, criticizing and implacable. The signs and symptoms of this part are self-loathing, self-criticism, self-denial, self-harm, suicidal fantasies and suicidal behavior.
Demanding, standards 

Demanding parent mod 
Continually pushes and pressures the child to meet excessively high standards. Feels that the only acceptable way to live is to be perfect and reach unbelievable heights, keep everything under control, have high status, be modest, put the needs of others above our own, be effective or not waste time. Such a person believes that it is incorrect to show feelings or be spontaneous.


Dysfunctional coping modes


Compliant surrender mod 
Behaves passively, submissively, meekly, requires comfort, comfort, reassurance, criticizes and “diminishes” himself alongside others. This behavior is caused by the fear of conflict and rejection. A person passively perceives injustice, or simply does not take any steps to satisfy his own healthy needs. Chooses partners or engages in other behavior that directly maintains the selfdefeating schema-driven pattern.

Detached protector mod 
Psychological avoidance of pain, which causes the scheme, through emotional removal. The patient "turns off" all emotions, moves away from others, rejects their help, and functions almost like a robot. Signs and symptoms of this mod: depersonalization, emptiness, boredom, substance abuse, overeating, self-damaging behavior, psychosomatic complaints and feelings of inner "emptiness".

Avoidant protector mod 
Such mod is primarily characterized by avoidance behavior. In this mod, a person avoids social situations, especially of a complex nature, and conflicts; can generally avoid the emotions, strong feelings and activities that cause such feelings.

Angry protector mod 
This mod is characterized by the so-called “wall of anger”, which is used to protect itself from other people who are perceived as a potential threat. Also, this behavior helps to keep other people at a safe distance due to manifestations of irritation and anger. Some people with this particle are mostly just voiced and demonstrate complaints in order to create a distance between themselves and others.

Detached self-soother mod 
In this mod, people turn off their emotions by engaging in activities that in a certain way soothe, stimulate or distract them from any feelings. Such behaviors are usually addictive (dependent behavior) and compulsive. These include workaholism, gambling, dangerous sports, promiscuous sex, or substance abuse. Another group of patients resorts to "secluded" interests, which have a more calming effect than self-stimulation. Such activities include computer games, overeating, watching television and flight into fantasy.

Self-aggrandizer mod 
Such people behave arrogantly, compete with others, defame, insult others, or seek to obtain a certain status in order to gain or retain everything they want to have. They are almost entirely focused on themselves, and do not show much sympathy for the needs and feelings of others. In this part, people show arrogance and expect a special attitude towards themselves. They do not believe that they must obey the general rules that everyone adheres to; they demand that they be admired, as well as boast or exalt themselves in order to "inflate" their sense of self.

Attention-seeker mod 
Such people try to get the attention and approval of other people through extravagant, inadequate and revealing behavior. Usually this behavior is a way of coping (coping) to the feeling of loneliness and lack of recognition.

Overcontroller mod 
This mod is an attempt to protect themselves from a real or perceived threat through excessive vigilance, constant deliberation and excessive control. There are two forms of this behavior:

Perfectionistic overcontroller mod 
Focusing on perfectionism to gain control and prevent failure and criticism.

Paranoid overcontroller mod 
Focused on vigilance, scanning other people for signs of malevolence; controlling the behavior of others through suspicion.

Bully and attack mod 
Applies aggression and bullying to get what he wants, or to defend themselves from a possible or real threat.

Conning and manipulative mod 
The deception and manipulation of this mod is aimed at achieving a specific goal involving the victimization, deception of other people, or the avoidance of punishment. This mod is often present in criminals, however, it happens in some narcissistic personalities who resorts to deception and manipulation in order to achieve their goals.

Predator mod 
This mod focuses on eliminating the threat, rivalry, obstacles or enemy in a cold, ruthless, calculated way. If “hot” manifestations of aggression are characteristic of bully and attack mod, then predator mod is characterized by cold, ruthless aggression. This mod is present only in psychopathic antisocial personalities.


Functional, healthy modes 

Happy child mod 
Feels peace and tranquility, because at this moment the basic emotional needs are satisfied. In this mod, the person feels loved, feels connected with other people; he is satisfied, protected, feels her value and dignity, she receives a sufficient degree of mentoring and direction from important people. In this mod, a person feels that he is understood, acknowledged, she is confident, competent, sufficiently independent, cheerful, strong, optimistic, spontaneous, easily adapts to new conditions, feels strength and control.

Healthy adult mod 
This mod performs the functions inherent in an adult, for example, as: work, education and responsibility. A healthy adult mod shows interest and carries out pleasant activities: sexual, intellectual, aesthetic and cultural interests, health care and sports activities.

What is proposed to do with mods or particles in the scheme-therapy can be found on the link.

Based on: Lobbestael, J., van Vreeswijk, M., & Arntz, A. (2007). Shedding light on schema modes: a clarification of the mode concept and its current research status. Netherlands Journal of Psychology.