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Schema Therapy – What is it and How Can it Help?

May 31, 2016

What is Schema Therapy and What are Schemas?

While short-term cognitive therapy techniques are effective for most clients, some require additional therapy to help deal with more long-term negative thought patterns.

Schema Therapy, which is another form of cognitive therapy, aims to help treat this issue by identifying enduring stable and enduring thought patterns, known as schemas. These schemas can be both good and bad (maladaptive), however the maladaptive schemas are what cause difficulty for the client during their day-to-day lives.

By undertaking Schema Therapy with a trained licensed Psychologist, clients are able to treat a number of long-term problems relating to relationships, anxiety and depression.

Some examples of maladaptive schemas are recurring beliefs about being abandoned; that imminent catastrophe could strike at any time; and/or that people should be harshly punished for making mistakes. While many people feel these emotions at some points throughout their lives, someone with a maladaptive schema will experience these thoughts reoccuringly throughout their lifetime.

It is believed that most maladaptive schemas are formed in childhood and thus usually operate outside of our awareness. However, when they are triggered by an event, these negative schema beliefs may dominate a person’s thoughts and feelings, leading to high levels of emotional pain.

How does Schema Therapy Work?

Schema Therapy aims to identify these maladaptive schemas, to weaken them and to also build up the healthy parts of clients’ thought patterns.

This is done through a number of approaches:

Emotive Techniques: Clients are encouraged to experience the emotional aspects of their problems. For example, a person may find that each time they are allowed to express their anger, hurt or sadness at a particular event or person, they are able to distance themselves further from that schema.

Behavioural Techniques: Clients are encouraged to examine their behaviours, particularly related to how they interact with other people. By identifying and changing any behaviours that reinforce the maladaptive schema, the schema can be weakened.

Cognitive Techniques: Clients are encouraged to look at evidence for and against their specific schema. For example, if a person believes they have been abandoned by those that they love, they may be asked to critically evaluate whether this has truly been the case. Usually, clients will be able to discover that their schema isn’t necessarily true.

Mindview and Schema Therapy

At Mindview, we have a number of Psychologists who are trained and experienced in providing Schema Therapy to help clients with a range of difficulties including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Relationship Problems
  • Sexual Issues

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