The cutting edge of therapy with couples.
Working with the Schema Therapy—Organizational Development Special Interest Group (multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-national and minority inclusive) and having spent her career focusing on minority inclusivity, Dr. Simeone-DiFrancesco has always been particularly attuned to the necessity of cultural competence, issues of prejudice, isolation, and lack of comprehension that ethnic and religious minority groups endure when they attempt psychotherapy or training as therapists. It became clear in 30 plus years of delivering direct service and studying the research on culturally competent psychotherapy, supervision and training, that working with a client or trainees ethnocentric culture, religion, and even family sub-culture is critical to a successful positive outcome. In fact, being honoring the best listening and dialogue/Connect-Talk® skills, one is required to be open to the values, sacred figures, inspirational ideas, and meaning that individuals give to their lives and to what it is to be human. This applies also how some see their place in connection to the rest of the world, God, and the universe. She also observed how the ethnic, religious and cultural group of Christians clients as well as therapists, were vastly underserved.
It quickly became apparent to her that the core case conceptualization, set of interventions, schema and mode amelioration techniques together with building of the Healthy Adult Mode, all built robustly upon the Christian set of values, perspectives and understanding of human nature and human flourishing. In fact, she found that it also became a sturdy house built upon a Judeo-religious foundation. As she is highly trained in these two religious and cultural perspectives, the ability was there to work from within it, and hence address the particular challenges that persons often have from these religious and cultural/sub-cultural groups. Working from within a client or trainees religious, ethnic or cultural perspective involves the same attitudes of openness, non-judgmentalism, and acceptance without the necessity of agreement, as do all our interactions with trainees and clients. We need to be ready to explore their world gently from within it, rather than from standing outside. Hence, there is a definite need to develop cultural competence in working and collaborating with clients and trainees from the various world religions. This also includes understanding the religion of the client, as religion (coming from the Latin, “re-ligare”, which means what one ties oneself to in terms of values, principles and meaning in life). This is the ideal. She has also discovered that often when a client or trainee encounters a dysfunctional belief, upon their own examination, they often find it very much affected by unhealthy Critic or Parent Modes that have caused a distortion from the actual essence of the client’s own spiritual and emotional true “north” belief system. We can learn to help our clients and trainees eliminate the “anthropomorphisms” they soaked up in life, and actually re-embrace their true religion and culture that resonates with what they know in their heart to be the “real thing”.
All of this does take training and expertise in all aspects, Christian religion & Gospel understanding of the real Jesus and what He modeled and lived, expert understanding using this knowledge accurately in the provision of top-notch schema therapy, and also very important, clear ethical principles on using these skills fully respecting the autonomy of clients and trainees, and their informed consent. Hence, Dr. Simeone-DiFrancesco has undertaken to provide and join the tracks of training that might expertly serve this Christian minority and culture/sub-culture in both aspects by equipping providers with: training with what she considers the best evidenced-based and effective psychotherapy together with a highly informed and trained religious catechesis. To this end, she was able to contract with Romuald B. Simeone to provide most expertly the religious catechesis, “Scriptural Pastoral Foundations”. In this way, those who choose to be certified by this Institute will have a double foundation and credential.
We lay out before you our offerings: Providing Culturally Competent Care for Christians. TRAINING PROGRAMS WITH A CHRISTIAN ANTHROPOLOGY AND APPLICATION. We offer three different training tracks all designed to help you succeed healing marriages & having the Scriptural & Pastoral knowledge to do so.
TRACK A: JESUS-CENTERED TRAINING FOR THERAPISTS, presented by Dr. Chiara Simeone-DiFrancesco, Licensed Psychologist. THIS IS A 9 HOUR WORKSHOP. This course takes some of the interventions that you may already know, and teaches you how to make them Jesus-Centered, inviting Jesus into the session through imagery and His Word and through you, the therapist.
TRACK B: TRAINING COURSES & EDUCATIONAL CONSULTATION FOR CERTIFIED PSYCHOTHERAPISTS AND PARAPROFESSIONALS. Our primary offering is CULTURALLY COMPETENT SCHEMA THERAPY WITH COUPLES FOR CHRISTIANS. Also presented by Dr. Chiara Simeone-DiFrancesco, Ph.D. 70 HOURS TOTAL
As a stand-along training, this program meets ISST certification requirements. We offer our own certification with Simeone-DiFrancesco Schema Therapy with Couples Training Center in Culturally Competent Care for Christians, when Track C is also successfully completed. Training includes understanding of schemas, modes, the schema therapy relationship, schema and mode interventions, chair dialogues, use of Scripture to speak to clients in session (Lectio Divina); & trade-marked development of the author’s Connect-Talk ®.Follows guidelines of the International Society of Schema Therapy for Certification in Schema Therapy with Couples, & provides video clips of couples sessions & dyadic breakouts. TRACK C: SCRIPTURAL PASTORAL FOUNDATIONS, a two year training program that provides a certificate of completion.
Via Scriptural Pastoral Foundations, therapists and others can become trained and formed via the scriptural books of John for Jesus-Centering of their work from within the Christian culture and religion. Training & certificate of completion are provided by Professor Romuald B. Simeone in partnership with Jesus-Centered Institute, LLC.
Its goal is to learn who Jesus is more precisely and be committed to Him more fully, understanding “follow me”. It covers verse by verse in-depth explication of the Johannine scriptural writings. The books are read without commentary, but with the verses expanded to include in narrative fashion all the exegesis.
Taught by Professor Romuald B. Simeone, scriptural scholar, genetic historian, theologian & mission catechist. Required materials are the 4 textbooks of Bible, Love Letters From Your Father, Books of John, (Gospel, Letters & Revelation), Lectio Divina, plus 63 hours of videos. There is approximately 9 hours of student engagement per week. This time may be spent on watching the videos, readings, assignments and a monthly Zoom group tutorial with Professor Simeone where it is open to questions & discussion on the Scriptures & Gospel Jesus.
I provide training for clinicians in Schema Therapy for Couples and related topics domestically and internationally, having achieved Advanced and Trainer/Supervisor Certification in Individual Schema Therapy (2001), and certified at the Advanced and Trainer/Educational Consultant level for Couples Schema Therapy (2015).
Workshops include: Schema Therapy for Couples for the International Society of Schema Therapy (ISST) Conferences at:
New York City, NY
Certification-track training of schema therapists in Couples ST, Bulgaria & Mexico
Introduction to Culturally Competent Schema Therapy for Christians, Jesus-Centered Schema Therapy® and Virtue-Based Theology of the Body, San Diego, CA 2023.
I am the co-author of the book published by Wiley-Blackwell, Schema Therapy with Couples, A Practitioner’s Guide to Healing Relationships, published internationally and in the U.S. A. (July 20, 2015). In 2009 I started the ISST Marital and Couples Workgroup, and ran it till mid-2014 when I was elected as Chair of the Couples Subcommittee to the ISST Board.
I subsequently started and trained a multi-national special interest group for ISST, “Schema Therapy for Organizational Development” (ST-0D), that has a particular emphasis on multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-national and minority inclusive dialogue between schema therapists and with their clients.
My clinical approach is primarily Schema Therapy, which integrates cognitive, analytic, gestalt and other experiential treatments into a sophisticated and cohesive treatment plan. Additionally, I realize that psychology needs to have theory based on the principles of logic, reason, and the nature of the human person. These together work towards fulfilling basic human Needs and the creation of meaning in life, essential ingredients of human fulfillment and happiness.
In my academic preparation, I graduated with Honors from Holy Apostles College, Connecticut with a double B.A. in Philosophy and Religious Studies as one of their first female graduates. This was a rigorous program which taught me to think logically and philosophically. This enables one to see deeper issues and separate them from come-and-go symptoms and hot issues. This essentially dove-tails with Schema Therapy, which also strives to form a deeper conceptualization of what is actually happening from a “Mode Perspective”. It is these mode cycles connected to early formed coping mechanisms in response to environmentally caused “Early Maladaptive Schemas”, commonly called schemas, that cause an individual or a couple to “get stuck” and seek out therapy.
Moving forward, I received an M.A. in “Psychology in Education”, and a “M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology and Rehabilitation” from Columbia University, New York. I proceeded from there to obtain my Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Education in the Counseling Psychology program.
My mental health training & experience has deliberately been very varied, from rural Mississippi mental health centers, to the V.A. Medical Center in Memphis as a graduate student, to Northern Nevada Mental Retardation Center while at Columbia University. My doctoral internship encompassed sites at Massachusetts maximum state prisons, as well as at Boston City Hospital. A second period of internship was pursued at U.S. International Psychology Clinic including teaching graduate students at their Irvine campus in California.
After my degree I became a Commissioned Corps Officer in the Federal Public Health Service doing general psychotherapy and performing special assignments regarding sexual abuse victims. I then moved to Oshkosh to lead a psychology unit in the State of Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections as Chief Psychologist, and to eventually pursue private practice. In 1992 I opened Wisconsin Family Growth and Reconciliation Center, LLC which reached out to a wide variety of people of all backgrounds, faiths, or no faith. In the spring of 2007 I opened up a specific division that would serve the Christian minority in Menasha, WI, with a second office in Appleton, Wisconsin. Then, in 2015 I started the Marriage & Family Schema Therapy Institute, a division of Healing International, Inc., specializing in providing services for the healing of marriages and families, a life-long devotion of mine. Wanting to focus more on the provision of writing and training, I returned to private practice with Connect-Talk®, LLC.
My credentials: Besides my licenses as a psychologist (WI and VA), after graduating, I was accepted as a member of the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology and also received the Interjurisdictional Practice Certificate, from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. I attained Level II training in Gottman Couples Therapy, finished my Externship in Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), became certified in Medical/ Analytical Hypnotherapy, and was trained and supervised in EMDR. I turned my focus to Schema Therapy as I noticed the remarkable effect it had on clients. Schema Therapy is designed also for those with entrenched patterns and complex and difficult marital cycles. It allows me at the same time to utilize the skills developed via these other psychotherapeutic perspectives which I studied and practiced.
Professional Associations and Affiliations: I am active member of a number of professional organizations, including the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology, the International Society of Schema Therapy, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a few denominationally-based professional organizations.