Initially developed for treatment of ‘personality disorders’ and other complex clinical problems, schema therapy has since been found to benefit an increasing range of client groups and clinical problems such as eating disorders and depression. In recent years the model has been adapted to working with children, adolescents and couples. Schema therapy is an integrative therapeutic model designed to address deeper maladaptive schematic beliefs and interpersonal problems.
What is a schema? A schema is a collection of knowledge about an object, situation or concept that serves as a guide. Schemas can be created for other persons, social interactions, self-image and important events. However, schemas can also be maladaptive as a result of negative experiences, particularly as a child, they can also be based on stereotypes and can sometimes be ‘closed’ to support and benefit our personal beliefs.
Schema therapy combines a range of therapeutic models including but not limited to, psychodynamic, CBT, attachment and developmental theory and emotion-focused therapy. The model utilises techniques from 4 domains: experiential, interpersonal, cognitive and behavioural as well as experiential techniques to provide corrective emotional experiences that promotes ‘core’ emotional growth and change.
Schema therapy also implements a range of interpersonal strategies through the ‘Limited Reparenting’ framework which is aimed at resolving unmet needs from childhood within the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship by offering security, compassion and respect. The inclusion of behavioural change work aims to reduce maladaptive coping strategies that negatively impact interpersonal connections, whilst promoting positive behaviours.
Ultimately the aim of schema therapy is to develop a strong healthy adult mode. You can achieve this by working with your therapist to: identify and begin healing schemas, identify and address coming styles that inhibit emotional needs, change patterns of feeling and behaviour that are the result of maladaptive schemas, learn how to meet core emotional needs in a healthy way and learn how to cope (in a healthy way) with frustration and distress when certain needs are not met.