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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.


Posted in Debug Your Mind | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

DOs and DON’Ts about Fear and Apprehension

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 25/06/2011

FEAR (about known things: frică) / APPREHENSION (about unknown things: teamă)


  • Source for a protective environment;
  • The existence of a secure base is important. The basic need during fear is protection.
  • Reason, search for information, escape contamination.


  • Discount/ignore this emotion;
  • Sabotage yourself by searching for a group which will confirm your fear;
  • Minimalize/maximize fear (get your inner Adult to verify reality by asking questions);
  • Transform fear into another emotion.Emotions are energy.They are like communicating vessels.
  • Cover one emotion with another just because you are not used to it.

General rules:
Before saying „you”, say „I” 3 times, because many troubles start with the wrong verbalization beginning with the second person;
Because emotions have to do with needs, this is not about emotions, but about conflicts between needs.
“Fear, as opposed to anxiety, has a definite object (as most authors agree), which can be faced, analyzed, attacked, endured. One can act upon it, and in acting upon it participate in it—even if in the form of struggle. In this way one can take it into one’s self-affirmation. Courage can meet every object of fear, because it is an object and makes participation possible. Courage can take the fear produced by a definite object into itself, because this object, however frightful it may be, has a side with which it participates in us and we in it. One could say that as long as there is an object of fear, love in the sense of participation can conquer fear. But this is not so with anxiety, because anxiety has no object, or rather, in a paradoxical phrase, its object is the negation of every object. Therefore participation, struggle, and love with respect to it are impossible. He who is in anxiety is, insofar as it is mere anxiety, delivered to it without help.”


Paul Tillich

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What Questions to Ask Your Psychologist

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 17/05/2010

[later edit: welcome to the most read article of this blog. enjoy!]

Last week I have met a former client of mine who asked me how to figure out weather the psychologist he is seeking for counseling is more or less competent. So a good question came into my mind. I would like to share with you my own subjective opinion on that.

The psychological & psychotherapeutical market in Romania has developed during the last years, although themselves the service providers don’t pretty much have any clue on how to promote their services. I know the situation is different around the world, so my suggestions won’t be limited to Romania, but applyable all around the world.

Besides that, there are plenty of specialists, among which you can suraly find a good one. So I will give you some suggestions on what to pay attention to.

First of all, stay away from any service providers who are deeply in love with one specific method or type of psychotherapy. A good psychologist, even if (s)he is specialized in one particular form or method of intervention, must know different and alternative approaches and must be able to provide reasons for why (s)he picked it. That is, (s)he can offer argumented opinions on differences between the approaches (s)he studied and must be able to say why (s)he chose a particular specialization. Also, (s)he must be able to tell you on what kind of problems their specialization works better on. Considering different types of problems, there are different types of suitable approaches.

For example, for troubles in childhood which affect the present life of the client, short-term therapy will not do. It might work: psychoanalysis, transactional analysis, psychodrama, hypnosis, cognitive-behavioral approach. It might provide less effects: neuro-linguistic programming  or jungian psychotherapy.

For anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder or burnout, you would use neuro-linguistic programming, hypnosis, cognitive-behavioral approach and even psychiatry but rather not psychoanalysis.

So a good services provider must tell you what type of problems does what (s)he’s good at solves. (S)he might even give you examples of types of problems which he solved of a certain kind. The worst kind of answer that you could get is “this works for everything and with anyone” or “I haven’t tried other methods”. If you hear this, just say hello and walk on by.

Another kind of therapists you should stay away from are those who combine spirituality into therapy, or have new-age approaches. If you do not know what “new age means”, please read and watch documentary here [ro&en, php] and here [ro&en, php]. Stay away from these people. Religion is not therapy, although it can offer therapeutic insight. Therapy is not religion, although it might offer spiritual inisght. Keep them separated.

Another thing which you should pay attention to is weather while during talking to him/her,  (s)he interrupts you. A good psychologist must have the ability to listen first, especially while talking to a potential client, and not cutting him/her off while (s)he tries to put questions. A psychologist must, before all, have respect for the client’s inner reality, beliefs and values. That’s why a good psychologist will not approve or disapprove in any manner and in neither case will it emit judgements upon a client’s saying without prior understanding their inner world. A client does not need get the psychologist’s approval, but understanding. The experience of a psychologist does NOT determine their quality as a professional. One can be 30 years of experience and not have basic listening skills and one can have 1 year of experience and have a great deal of interpersonal skills. The quality of the service provided does not depend upon the experience, but upon the personality. Remember that before passing any judgement on psychotherapists or psychologists.

For example, if you believe that UFOs are driven by aliens, I myself would think you’re talking bananas, but that is my own opinion and I am not a psychologist. But a service provider in this field is not allowed to pass any form of judgement, no matter how silly your belief might seem to them. It is your belief and you are entitled to any belief you desire, consciously or uncounsciously. The psychologist must accept it as part of your model of the world, listen to your opinions and respect them, no matter how different they are from their perception.

Ask the psychologist on which criteria does (s)he determine the number of sessions necessary for a certain type of problem and how (s)he structures his/her time during the therapy and during each session. A good service provider must be able to convince you that (s)he has a strategy that has been proven to work.

Ask the psychologist of any potential challenges (s)he has met during his/her career, especially in confrontation to a certain ethical aspect from the psychologist’s deontological code. If (s)he says (s)he has never had challenges it is because:

a) (s)he’s lying

b) doesn’t have enough experience  or

c) doesn’t know the ethical requirements of the job.

Nobody is perfect, and a good psychologist would not deny challenges. (S)he might avoid to answer the question, but (s)he wouldn’t deny such challenges exist. It is better for you to get an answer when putting this question.

Another question to ask is what is the longest period a client has been in therapy. If the service provider answers: “oh, I have clients which go back years, about 3-4”, say hello and walk on by. A therapist who does his job does not make a certain client dependent on him or her, but makes sure that client is getting improvement throughout the process. In some cases, therapy might even take up to 2 years, but any good psychologist, when going after a certain term, must be able to explain WHY (s)he decided to continue therapy with that particular client. Even if it’s a process that takes time, it doesn’t have to take too much time, otherwise you might just be looking at an incompetent or a money-drier.

Ask him or her about the training (s)he’s taken, and about his/her plans for personal development. Such a job requires continuous improvement. If since completing licence or master’s degree, the only training (s)he took was in the main area of expertise (let’s say, psychoanalysis, or hypnosis, or transactional analysis – but only one), it is rather likely that psychologist does not have a broad enough perspective. A good service provider must continuously improve himself/herself.

Ask the service provider what tools of diagnosis does (s)he have. How did (s)he acquired those skills, where did (s)he practice them and for how long? An important part of solving the problem is to call for a right diagnosis. How much time is it alloted to diagnosis? A good psychologist would allot at least 1-2 initial sessions for diagnosis and also must tell you that there is a variate set of diagnosis tools. In some cases, simple questioning might do it, and some might say they have just developed that intuitively. Even if that is the answer, the service provider must explain where did (s)he learn it from, for how long, where did (s)he practiced it, with who, and with which results.

Some psychologists, due to the long process of training, become stiff and tend to think they know it all. The good ones don’t. So they are open to feed-back, as they know feed-back is source for continuous improvement. A good question is “What feed-back did you recently applied and worked”. If they make a pause or look at you blank, just say hello and walk on by.

And, as a final tip, to get a business approach, you can ask the psychologist what’s his/her charge and then put the question: “what are you offering me for this money?” and you will see weather the service provider has a selling pitch or not.

Remember that a psychologist may claim a number of things, but in the same time, (s)he must be able to argument each of those claims with training and/or experience. The simple fact of not complying to some of these request doesn’t mean that the psychologist you’re talking to is incompetent or wants to rip you off. It might not be their fault. In the mean time, the fact that a service provider is well-intentioned or sure of himself/herself doesn’t mean that you should just blindly write a white check and definitely trust them. Some of them might do you more harm than good, even without realizing it.

Another thing to pay attention to is to judge carefully for references. If a friend of yours says a certain psychologist is great, it might mean that service provider is good for them. Not necessarily also for you.

Considering you expect to pay for getting quality questions from a service provider, be sure to get the right answers to earn quality!

I consider that excellent professionals and unfortunate incompetents exist. Both get clients. The problem is that an incompetent ruins someone’s trust to get a good service provider and an excellent professional might not help a customer due to harm done to him/her by an incompetent.

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The Impact of Negative Feedback

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 23/11/2009

I’ve had what you could call a writers’ block for a month. I couldn’t write almost anything. I couldn’t write business plans, master’s degree projects, blog posts, film homeworks, not even e-mails I have delayed.

As you can notice on the blog, I haven’t been publishing regularly and in the last month, at all. I couldn’t say I was to busy to do it, but there’s another fact that got on my nervs lately (generally, not about blogging).

Any initiative I had this fall, may it be presenting a business idea, or a film homework for the film classes or some faculty project, or even a short sketch at Recitiri, got criticised. And not only criticised, but also mocked – in some environments I have not claimed perfection, but from which I expected suggestions and directions to learn.

Please compare the intensity with which someone gives negative feed-back to the intensity someone uses to give positive feed-back. Usually, according to John Parr (a great transactional analyst), the intensity ratio is 5:1 for negative:positive. Why? Just imagine. When you hear someone say “I hate you”, how intense is it, compared to “I love you”? We usually put more energy in negative messages than in positive ones.

Another explanation is the obsession for performance: you have to try hard to make it better. Perfect. It’s excellent that everyone tells you what’s not working. But what DOES work? No time for that.

I rallied to this strive for performance, trying to use all the critics and suggestions in a positive way, but I have only accumulated a lot of resentment, to which I do not find correct to cast upon others. Other people don’t have to suffer because someone gave me negative energy I couldn’t take. In the mean time, it’s also true I’m only human.

If the 5:1 ratio statement is correct, than we need 5 positive strokes for each negative stroke. What happens if you get a lot of negative strokes and not one positive stroke?

I will give you a few examples of this, from the past month.

I presented a business idea at Open Coffee about three weeks ago. There were about a dozen of people that were trying to tell me why that project won’t work as a business. At the next Open Coffee, Geea told me about a site that just got launched a month ago applying one of the main ideas for the projects I presented.  And I remembered what Vlad Stan said at NetCamp , that if you believe in your idea, nobody can tell you it’s not going to work but yourself.

That doesn’t mean I recommend that each person believe in their projects not considering the feed-back, that is another extreme (and dangerous) consideration, but specifically about myself, I have been proven right time and time again. It would be appropriate to trust my intuition more.

I presented last week at the masters degree a study on burnout. My colleagues got tired and wanted to go home earliear (as if they couldn’t remember the seminar ends at 8, not at 7.30 PM), a colleague accusing me I don’t know how to manage my time. Then I asked the teacher what she thought of the presentation and she said it was OK. It’s just that the most part of the HR students at SNSPA are there to get a shiny diploma and not really learn anything.

What I learned from this experience, together with participating to another seminar with a different group (where I was accused of putting too many questions to the teacher), was that by the time that these 2 years of masters’ degree will end, it is very likely that I will know more than my colleagues. In a long term, I will become a better HR specialist in the Romanian HR market than they will be. And it’s not a matter of experience, it’s just a matter of interest.

As for the film classes, I have settled the things through a “friendly chat” with the teacher via e-mail. And for Recitiri, I have sent my explanation about my absence to the founder (Sorin Tudor) and to the moderator (Dragoş Butuzea).

I thought maybe writing about this on the blog there would be the risk for someone to think I’m depressed. I am not. Or maybe some might think: “Oh,get over it!” – the “try hard” message. Or maybe I’m supposed to get more positive strokes? Some moral support? Well, yes. But I’m not so afraid to write about what I think, considering maybe some won’t like what I write – they will give me negative feed-back or won’t understand, etc. .

I DO need moral support and I DO want positive strokes. My mother, who lives in Italy since 2004, says the Romanian Society is ill of negative criticism, transmitted in a sarcastic manner which create interpersonal conflict. Well, HRD, based upon their study on Romanian mentality in 2006, comes to the same conclusion (just read the first 4 arguments).

Just because I have some respect and manners and I don’t always publicly reply, doesn’t mean I’m ignorant of this. I usually don’t react to challenges and I like to avoid conflicts. Equally, each time I have tried conclusions with somebody (there must have been 5-6 times in the last 6 years), they fully deserved it and publicly got fried. It’s easy to consider me a nice guy. I’m not.

I figured that most people overadapt, don’t realy become aware of this mechanism. “Oh, it’s OK to get told over and over again what doesn’t work in a sarcastic manner”. Or some others develop a strong confidence in their ideas whithout checking them out, because everybody gives them negative strokes when searching for feed-back. I think both tendencies are wrong. They’re dichotomic. Black and white.

Therefore, my message to the world is: “Just because I ask for your suggestions and your feed-back, doesn’t mean that I have to take all the shit you want to get rid of or pass over. When I ask your opinion it doesn’t mean that I’m wrong and you’re right, or that I’m stupid and you’re smart. It doesn’t mean I will do what you say or consider it correct or applyable. It just means I want some feed-back. And from now on, if you don’t know the distiction between feed-back and pulling someone’s leg and criticising, I might make you acknowledge it and you won’t like it.”

Thank you to all of the readers of this post that over time gave me feed-back without criticizing me with sarcasm. I believe in learning from putting questions and gathering opinion on how to improve myself and my writing (especially my blogging, since I’m a beginner). I believe the best way to express my vision will gather the best means with your help.

If you’ve liked this article and you agree to the attitude I’ve stated, please feel free to pay it forward or to re-tweet the link. Thank you.

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