What is Schema therapy?
Schema therapy was first developed by Dr Jeffrey Young. Schema therapy is an integrative approach that brings together elements from cognitive behavioural therapy, attachment and object relations theories, Gestalt, and experiential therapies.
If you’re looking to better understand and work on engrained patterns of thinking, emotion, and behaviour, Schema Therapy might be the type of therapy for you! At Cova, we have a number of clinicians who specialise in this therapeutic approach. The following page provide information about Schema Therapy and how it works…
What is a Schema?
Schemas can form when our universal emotional needs are not met during childhood. Examples of these needs include safety, stability, nurturance, acceptance, autonomy, competence, identity, expression, spontaneity, and for a world with realistic limits. When one or more of these needs go unmet, schema’s can emerge as a result.
A schema is an enduring negative pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that develop in early life. Schemas may form a lens with which we view, understand, and interpret the world around us. Schemas lead us to notice and remember information that is consistent with the schema. Behaviourally, our schemas can lead us to experiencing similar events, environments, and relationship patterns.
Even though schemas persist once they are formed, they are not always in our awareness, usually, they operate in subtle ways. However, when a schema is triggered by our internal or external world our thoughts and feelings may be dominated by these schemas.
Examples of schemas include:
How does Schema Therapy work?
In schema therapy, the therapist first helps the client to identify and understand the schemas influencing their perception, emotional states, and behaviours. As part of this process, the therapist and the client will explore the origins of the clients’ unmet needs where their schemas may have been learned.
Following this, the therapist then aims to help the client recognise how they react to their schemas when they are triggered. Clients learn how to respond to their schemas in ways that are healing, self-enhancing, and meeting one’s emotional needs. This involves learning how to manage the thoughts, urges, and behaviours that are triggered by a schema, whilst moving towards more healthy and helpful ways of relating to oneself and others. This is explored experientially within the therapy room, but may also be worked on outside of appointments as “homework” in between sessions.