• Tena Davies, Clinical Psychologist, Certified Schema Therapist

Addressing the critic that may perpetuate the compliant surrenderer

Working with the compliant surrenderer can be tricky as clients may resist change often due to messages from their critic and underlying schemas such as defectiveness, abandonment or emotional deprivation. Here’s an exercise I developed to help understand and challenge the modes and underlying schemas that can perpetuate the compliant surrender mode.


Step 1: Write a statement on a whiteboard/piece of paper to challenge the compliant surrenderer mode (e.g., your needs are equal to others) and ask the client what feelings and thoughts come up for them when they read it.


Step 2: Attune to the client’s feelings and to the associated modes, such as the vulnerable child (e.g. cries, “I wish that was true”) and the critic (e.g. that’s selfish, don’t deserve that).


Step 3: Work with these modes. For example, by doing chairwork with the critic (e.g. you only have value when giving) with the healthy adult sticking up for the vulnerable child (little me is allowed to have needs too). This may help weaken the messages that keeps the client stuck.


Work with the vulnerable child who may feel worthless, fear abandonment or feel invisible (triggered by the emotional deprivation schema) by reparenting or doing imagery.


For homework ask them to complete a mode diary and notice what happens when they try to reduce the compliant surrenderer mode. Explore this in the session for more opportunities to weaken the mode and underlying schemas that perpetuate it.


Here’s a video with a bit info Working with the compliant surrenderer https://1drv.ms/v/s!AqyB4-DNFeEYgow_WQZE0Rw0iVPQOA


As always, please take these blog posts as educational and always use your clinical judgement and seek to tailor interventions to your client.




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