Schema therapy is an integrated, evidence-based method that combines cognitive, behavioral, and experiential strategies. Schema therapy can assist us in making sense of how we have learnt to adapt and cope with various situations as a result of our own unique experiences.
What is Schema Therapy?
Schema Therapy combines elements of cognitive, behavioral, attachment, psychodynamic, and gestalt models, making it truly integrative. Similarly to CBT, Schema Therapy is structured and specific, however, the time it takes and the focus of the sessions will vary according to the individual.
Also known as Schema-focused cognitive therapy, Schema therapy aims to change negative thought patterns and beliefs that people have lived with for a long time. These long-term beliefs are called schemas.
What are some examples of common schemas?
Schemas typically begin in early life, though they can sometimes form in adulthood. A few examples of common schemas include:
Abandonment – the belief that others will leave you, that others are unreliable, or that relationships are fragile
Underdeveloped self – the belief that you do not have an identity and that you are not an individual
Vulnerability – feeling as if the world is a dangerous place and that disaster can strike at any time
Negativity – the belief that negative aspects of life outweigh the positives.
What are the goals of Schema Therapy?
Schemas are thought to be more deeply rooted than core beliefs, which are worked on in cognitive-behavioral therapy. Because of this, they are often more resistant to change. The goal of schema therapy is to help you to break these negative patterns and beliefs and to replace them with healthier alternatives.
When Is Schema Therapy Used?
Schema therapy is typically used for chronic conditions and when other therapeutic approaches have not worked. Therapists might use schema therapy when clients exhibit patterns of negative thoughts and behaviors that continue despite efforts at therapeutic intervention.
Researchers have found that schema therapy can be effective in treating several types of mental health conditions, including personality disorders (particularly borderline personality disorder), eating disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression.