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What is Schema Dynamics Programming

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 06/07/2017


The terminology

“Schema” comes from schema therapy and refers to the maladaptive schemas taxonomy developed by Jeffrey Young, Ph.D. and his collaborators since the ’80s. It is the problem-oriented component of the field, using psychometric questionnaires developed and tested by scientists to evaluate which are the schemas and modes which pathologically influence the emotions, the thoughts, the behavior and the language of the people. Schemas are triggered by traumas, most likely from childhood and, through complications, when activated, may generate discomfort, stress, challenge, failure and ultimately, psychiatric illness.

Dynamics” comes from “Spiral Dynamics”, a field founded in the ’70s by Clare Graves, Ph.D., and it refers to the multiple values levels layered in the personality, which may be changing in time. It is the results-driven component of the field, using advanced psychometric testing developed by professional researchers in order to discover which type of potential and perspective is enabled in order to support the transformational development of the individuals and societies.

Programming” comes from “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” (NLP), the field developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, Ph.D. starting in the ’70s, centered on using complex practical processes in order to provide with models of excellence. Although sometimes presented as a pseudoscience, some fields of NLP, such as metaprograms and values have been psychometrically tested as scientifically valid models of correctly structuring the language, behavior and personality.

ST (schema therapy) and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) have both common roots in Gestalt therapy.

In some NLP Master Practitioner training, the Spiral Dynamics model is studied.



What are the characteristics of Schema Dynamics Programming? How is SDP different from:

  • Psychotherapy?

  • NLP (neuro-linguistic programming)?

  • Spiral Dynamics?

  • ST (schema therapy)?

  • Coaching?

SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) provides the client with a flexible set of processes for personal transformation. This enables the functions of both psychotherapy and coaching: it works both for the traumas in the past and the goals in the future.

SDP provides a directed structure. The schema dynamic programmer knows how to recognize and measure the results of the changes when dealing with personal issues, professional goals, past, present and future. The structure is directed in the sense that the schema dynamic programmer uses both descriptive complex maps and tools to knows where the client is, knows where (s)he wants to go and, after considering the available options (tools, processes, techniques), chooses one or several procedures to follow and monitor.

To merely give an example, as a difference to coaching, the schema dynamic programmer may offer his/her opinion, contradict the client and give advice if necessary. The schema dynamic programmer is focused on practical exercises and homework which require a solid amount of effort (emotional, and even physical and logistic) from the client. This work is both oriented to the past and the future and it does not accept the personality of the client as a given, but as a starting point in the work done, which is a mere effect of life experiences and environment and may be subject to change.

Using this strategic approach, with the appropriate approach, issues such as introversion, panic attacks, PTSD, psychosomatization, phobias, alixitimy, allergies, emotional stress response, abandonment, mistrust, emotional deprivation, entitlement, abandonment and others (to name just a few) can be completely and ultimately removed and replaced with functional systems within the subconscious and the conscious.

As a set of tools oriented towards professional growth, SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) can provide clients with life-changing experiences which enable them to advance in the Spiral Dynamics model within months (in stead of years) and achieve professional and personal benefits such as:

  • job and career change and performance;

  • happy marriages;

  • increased revenues;

  • status change.

SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) focuses, as ST (schema therapy) does as well, on both emotional and cognitive-rational aspects of the change, but where ST (schema therapy) insists on working with modes (especially considering the psychiatric interventions), SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) insists on working with metaprograms. Where ST (schema therapy) insists on working with imagery, SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) has its own, much more effective and advanced process, designed by its founder. Such processes are similar to several NLP techniques but different from all of them, and it does not necessarily involve trance/hypnosis. NLP is also more focused on fast solving of the surface issues, which may work in alleviating effects but not always causes. For example, a metaprogram change can be successful for a healthy adult, but may be undone if at the root of the metaprogram change there is a maladaptive schema caused by an abusive trauma from the past.

Where ST (schema therapy) insists on analysis, SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) insists on homework and delegating as much of the change work to the client, once (s)he earns the skills and learns the processes a model for personal change. While psychotherapy generally insists on the necessity of the process being administered by a state-approved specialist, the SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) processes can be easy, independently learned and applied by each client, provided (s)he has the appropriate personality and skills inclinations. In this sense, SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) is nearer to coaching. While the client is encouraged to use for the self some of the processes, (s)he is not encouraged to become a schema dynamic programmer with other people without proper supervision.

Spiral Dynamics offers a deep conceptual framework which many of the psychologists and psychiatrists are not aware of and not even most of the coaches. On this foundation, an important SDP premise is that almost any NLP-type process can be run, focusing on developing skills and attitudes, once the maladaptive schemas have started to change in intensity. Thus, Spiral Dynamics offers not only a strategic measuring tool, but also a chart, a map of transformations, a clear direction of development once the client is freed from many of the startling issues and also some tools, for most advanced knowledge.


A unified theory of personality psychology

For several decades, clinical psychology and organizational or positive psychology have insisted on different aspects of the human psyche:

  • interpreting the past (retrospection) vs predicting the future (prospection);

  • problems vs. goals;

  • why vs. how;

  • reflective analysis vs. active experience (exercise);

  • addictions vs virtues;

  • learning vs. growing;

  • abstract vs. concrete;

  • personal vs. professional;

  • body vs. mind;

  • solving vs. developing;

  • issues vs. potential;

  • negative vs. positive;

  • mistakes vs. performance;

  • comprehension vs. action;

  • reparation vs. fine-tuning performance;

  • emotions vs. reason;

  • awareness for insight vs. awareness for decision/action;

  • static vs. dynamic; 

  • treating vs training;

  • obstacles vs resources’

  • linear thinking (Aristotelian) vs. systemic thinking (non-Aristotelian);

  • diffusiveness vs. focus;

  • deliberate slowness vs. witty quickness;

  • cautious desurgency vs. exuberant surgency;

  • relationship vs. task;

  • pain vs. excitement;

  • long term vs. medium/short term;

  • acceptance vs. change;

  • diagnosis vs. enhancement;

  • tense strictness vs. moderate willingness;

  • guiding vs. directing;

  • assessment vs. evaluation;

  • teaching vs. knowing;

  • floating vs. flying

and so on.


Differentiating for the future

SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) is not the only mixed approach available. It may even not be the best. But it works, and it will be tested of how well it works in comparison to any of the separate components to which it is compared.

SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) is being developed by Ștefan Alexandrescu as a groundbreaking new field with its own applications and is NOT in direct competition with ST (schema therapy), Spiral Dynamics and NLP. It is important that this field would support the development and most especially, the research of these 3 original fields, on which it is grounded. It is not intended as a substitute, but as an alternative, as an enhancer, as a continuation, as it is different from all of the above mentioned.

However, SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) does clearly enter in competition with:

  • regular psychotherapy

  • coaching

Regular psychotherapists and coaches which lack skills and knowledge in all of these three fields are not accredited, nor advised, nor recommended to clients. As SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) is a practical field, the researchers are challenged to devise experimental tests and projects to compare the effectiveness of SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) with either regular psychotherapy and coaching. SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) is simply different and superior, through techniques, skills and results to regular psychotherapy and coaching. This is not a marketing statement, it is simply a reflection of the reality, based on the obtained. And it’s getting better and better, steady and slowly.

People who are interested in learning these skills are advised to contact Ștefan Alexandrescu directly.

The theoretical component of Schema Dynamics Programming also integrates models from transactional analysis, positive psychology, multiple intelligences, motivational psychology and from landmark specialists such as Jeffrey Young, Clare Graves, Abraham Maslow, Robert Dilts, Anthony Robbins, David McClelland, W. Gerrod Parrot, Robert Plutchick, Brian Tracy (correlating research to be determined) and could be correlated in the future with several other theories. You may download here a synthesis pdf.

Copyright © Ștefan Alexandrescu, 2017. None of the contents of this page can be reproduced without the written express consent of Ștefan Alexandrescu. No exceptions allowed.

If you liked this article, please also read this:

Schema Dynamics Programming with Stefan Alexandrescu (25.12.2016)

How to Live a Perfect Life. Part I. (31.10.2017)

How to Live a Perfect Life, part II. The First 4 Out of 12 Steps, In the Right Order (13.11.2016)

How to Live a Perfect Life, part III. Steps 5-8 Out of 12, In the Right Order (17.11.2016)

How to Live a Perfect Life, Last Part. Steps 9-12 Out of 12, In the Right Order (21.11.2016)

PS: Thanks to Diana Andreea Bădrăgan.

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How to Live a Perfect Life, part II. The First 4 Out of 12 Steps, In the Right Order

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 13/11/2016


I started writing last week a new series of articles, out of which I am now publishing part 2 of 4. You may read part I here.


  1. Know yourself.

I know this kind of advice, “know thyself”, is very vague as for some people it might mean meditation, traveling around the Earth or reading the horoscope. What I refer to is none of these, but actually abandoning the idea that you are a victim and get strategic, actionable intelligence about how your mind works and, even better, how other people’s minds work. This can be done through work which can be expensive, in time and money, and you won’t like all that you find. It involves completing extensive personality questionnaires, getting payed interpretations from experts about what are your weak and strong points, your downfalls and your talents and reading specialty books about how these work and how to use the information to find your path.

In my life experience and in working with clients, one’s dealing with own self after 360 degrees evaluations and/or psychometric evaluations is usually emotionally consuming, but priceless, because it helps you make major decisions such as in what country/city to work, what to study and what career to choose. Not knowing yourself or delaying this moment means thousands of hours possibly lost doing something you don’t like, or you’re not good at, or not worth your resources.

There are some people who say “nobody can tell you who you are” and “life experience is best” because “we all have our own lives”. In my opinion, such perspectives may be related to the fact that these people most often don’t like to know the truth, weren’t taught to learn or have had a lot of criticism around the paths to be chosen and want to make their own point in order to grow. This is also a path, one which can build character (the best case), waste a lot of time and opportunities for development and disrespect the objectivity, professionalism and life experience of HR profilers. Usually, the parents should be preoccupied during the education of the kids of which would be their strengths and talents, but if they aren’t, the children must be able to trust some sort of authority for career guidance in life.



  1. Learn to learn.

There are differences between growing up, education and animals’ training, but somehow all these get messed up and mixed up in the process known as “school”. It happens right around the period of time when real learning should happen, preferably through modeling and best through modeling for practical learning and efficient theoretical learning by speed reading, memory techniques and concentration. Also, lately, in the past decade and even more in the following, most of the learning, modeling and concentration abilities of kids will vanish before highschool.

Of course, you can learn these also later in life, but until then, there is the guarantee that you will get frustrated or traumatized through what is called “formal education”, lose considerable amount of resources (especially time and money) in bad decisions, inefficient work and limited liberties. I have always considered learning how to learn as the fundamental basis of personal development.

During this period of life, children (or adolescents) should have a balance between their psychological needs for learning, exploration, development and modeling, and their other emotional needs. For example, they must have freedom to express themselves and play even while making some mistakes without being overly criticized. Learning to learn after highschool usually opens up the door to emotional, sensitive traumas connected to inefficient education within family and/or school system. From my experience, the people who weren’t taught to love to learn and/or who were very traumatized by caretakers, teachers, professors or colleagues don’t even want to read and out it goes for the rest of their lives the concept of “personal development”.


  1. Learn to change, starting with what stops you.

This is another seemingly counter-intuitive step, as opposed to concentrating first on your qualities and dismissing your weak points. But now, there have been developed and discovered countless techniques and approaches in psychotherapy and personal development areas (such as schema therapy, transactional analysis, coaching and NLP) that you can find resources to deal with your problems, no matter how serious they may be. Chances are that if you’re young, your life is not perfect and you’ve had traumas, limiting beliefs, no matter how great the education received in the family was. The longer you waste time avoiding them, not solving them or fighting with what you don’t like, the harder it will be for you when you fall from the success you try to build for yourself on a house of sand.

If you develop, let’s say (a mere example), your professional abilities but neglect family issues, your performance will at a certain point become limited because of the lessons not learned at the right moment and you will have to go back to a certain level of development in order to truly accept yourself, unconditionally, with all the terrible issues you’ve been through. The more you prolong this waiting, the more chances are you might lose at least some of what you build on faulty bases. After you know yourself, you have to accept yourself, and then decide what to change, and in what order. This is capital. There is no way around that. Based on how the serious your problems are, you might need the help of a psychiatrist, or a psychotherapist, or a psychological counselor. In other, more mild cases, a coach or a personal development consultant can suffice. You can consult with a Mental Health Facilitator to decide. Dismissing this under the rug increases the chances of developing a mental disease later in life.

The parents which want to facilitate their children’s access to change must give them examples of balancing different aspects, contexts and needs in life, such as that between work and play, between their own needs and others’ needs, between internal and external beauty, between exploring and expressing their inner world and listening and knowing the outer world. This is very difficult and can’t always be obtained because no parent is perfect, but whatever you want to inspire in the direction of personal positive change, must be lived as an appropriate example.


  1. Cultivate your potential through learning and practice.

Most people develop through facing problems, getting kicked in the behind. But the ones who outlive the previous step know the value of orienting oneself towards goals. While or after changing key aspects of your issues, it is worth to get specific training appropriate for your natural talents, inclinations and gifts. Getting the psychometric evaluations before college helps you choose a right career and prepare for a University which will help you excel. The next step is to study on your own the theories which will help you be a good practitioner and exercise in order to train your skills and get experience. Knowing yourself also enables you to choose an appropriate job, at the right place in an organization or to choose a niche for your business as a freelancer or entrepreneur. It is worth investing somewhere between at least 10.000-100.000 $/ for your formal + informal education in the right field for your talents (I am only referring to University+master period).

Not knowing yourself before studying means risking the same amount or (most likely) more and years of your youth doing something you won’t practice so well later, leading to disappointment, mediocrity and sometimes big failure. Also, not solving your main inner challenges before or in the time that you’re dedicating cultivating your potential means you will be as strong as your weakest link (which will definitely break sooner or later). Also, as an alternative or a complementary to training, you can now learn by reading, watching video seminars, participating in webinars and especially getting customized consulting, coaching or mentoring from specialists in the niches you want to model in.

The people who only rely on faculty and job training will be soon replaced by robots and immigrant labor force in this century. They might also be aware of this too late when it may be to expensive to really change something. I am confronted with this when I talk to people in their 30s or 40s who realize they have chosen a wrong career and they try hard to perform in a job they hate and they want all the results really fast, like I would be supposed to do in a few sessions what they haven’t done in self-knowledge, learning and practice all of their lives. Progresses can be made at any age, but harder and with bigger costs (especially time and money) and sacrifices (especially for those who have families).


PS: Thanks to Corina Andreea Popa for the practical suggestions and feed-back on this article before publishing.

Ștefan Alexandrescu

professional development consultant, trainer and coach

0040 729 034 883

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Skills Improvement Chart

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 22/02/2010

Make an evaluation on a sheet like this one. You may use colors to define the thing that you want to underline.

G5-I like doing-im good at

Consider these key questions:

How do you choose what things to put in the list with “what you like to do”?

What things helped you be here where you are? Objectively and subjectively.

What were the main people that came into your life and changed it into good?

What are the things you like to help others with?

Why are you unsatisfied?

What is the place you would like to go?

What would you like to do more?

What do you accept to do concerning this?

Which are the things you do not like in life?

Make a decision weather you will delegate, improve or eliminate the tasks that you do and don’t you don’t like. Or weather you may do them as a secondary task to something else (like listening to audiobooks, reading, or talking tot the friends over the phone in the mean time). From my experience, some things you might decide upon to start liking by doing them better, or in the same time with something else. Other, you can successfully delegate.

Give up the tasks you don’t like to do and don’t do. Delegate them or totally eliminate them. They don’t deserve to take up of your time.

Make a plan to learn the things you like but don’t do. Chances are, you might improve your skills in those areas by practicing these things you like. You might want to create personal development goals for some of them. For example, for me, it was shooting  video.

What is your level of competence in the thing you like?

How much time to you want to allocate for learning it and for practicing it?

What do you have to change in yourself to get that?

Make a list of your level of competence for each of your abilities. Rank the things  you wish to learn and create goals for each of them.

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Goal Evaluation

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 11/01/2010

Would you like to know how I’ve set the directions for my personal development in 2010?

I. Get clear on what really happened.

1. Did you have any goals?

2. What have you accomplished?

3. How much of what you accomplished was planned? How much of what you planned got accomplished? Procentually.

4. What have you built on that success? Get clear with what was great. Can you replicate it?

5. Measure how much did you invest this year in this year’s successes. How much did you invest in the last years for this year’s successes? You will realize what matters the most didn’t need so much effort as you might think. It doesn’t take much energy to be happy with your accomplishments.

II. Get clear with what’s about to happen

1. Did you set any goals for 2010? Which are those?

2. Do you have older goals which you wanted to reach? What else do you need for accomplishing them that you didn’t have before? What do you want to replicate from the previous year?

3. How much do you consider reachable from what you state?

4. Which would be the top 5 important personal things you would want for the new year?

5. What have you planned to achieve in 10 years, profesionally, personally, financially and spiritually? What will be you major accomplishments in 10 years? Write down a list of goals for your life and keep it. You will be surprised of what you will find by looking upon it years later. I have done this the first time in June 2004. By January 2010, I have accomplished or respected (at least partially) 17 out of 86 goals. Some of them, without even noticing. They just seemed so natural, I didn’t realiye that was a life goal. This is the sensation you might have when planning your goals.

III. Get clear with your limits.

1. What are the values that matter for you?

2. What will you never do?

3. Which moral principles will you never break?

4. Which professional principles will you respect?

5. What would be the message you would like to send to others and to yourself in this period?

IV. Get focus.

1. What will be the main advantages you will have by reaching your goals by December the 31st? The main 4 things. Write down what will you get for each of them. Commit to them.

2. What’s the first step you’d like to take? How can you measure it?

3. How can you improve your evaluation and planning right now by getting aware of this?

V. Get monitoring

Make a monitoring for each month of your year, at the end:

1. What were the main 3 positive aspects, what were the main negative aspects.?

2. What was their field and level of implication?

3. What motivated you to act that way?

4. What have you got to learn from that experience? In time, you will notice that the failures of yesterday are the learnings of today for the successes of tomorrow.

Keep these in mind while answering to these questions:

1. Be sure you believe that you are convinced you deserve it, that you are capable of it, that it’s clear what your plans must be in order to achieve it and that it’s worthwhile to achieve it.

2. Did you ever consider anything impossible and still, you have succeeded in accomplishing it? ideas that were once only dreams and now are reality. Get enthusiastic about your ability to reach such goals.

3. Consider what you “failed” as a learning experience and reevaluate to plan your time to learn. Allow yourself to acknowledge the mistakes you make. Nobody’s perfect. Not even the leaders of the business schools [en, blog]. Also, this way, you will remember the successes more than… the learnings. And they will take less time.

I also recommend you to read Cary Cooper‘s entry on this topic.

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