What do we mean by 'Recurrent Emotional & Interpersonal Difficulties'?
Some people experience repeated difficulties with low mood or anxiety throughout their childhood and adulthood. Associated with this may be painful negative beliefs about oneself (e.g. feeling bad, defective or a failure), or perpetual fears (e.g. fears of abandonment, fears of repeated abuse) which never seem to go away. They may find that they continually use unhelpful ways of coping with, or responding to these beliefs. Further, they may have developed negative patterns of relating to others because of the way they feel (e.g. being aggressive, avoiding emotional closeness, repeatedly choosing abusive partners). When emotional and interpersonal difficulties like this continue for many years, they become integrated into a person's sense of identity and personality. Therefore, problems can become harder to shift compared to emotional difficulties triggered by single life events. When personality difficulties are so problematic that they affect all aspects of a person's life and affect those around them, they are sometimes called 'personality disorders'.
What Causes these Types of Problems?
Often, enduring problems with emotional well-being, behaviour and interpersonal relationships are caused by traumatic experiences in childhood (e.g. abandonment, abuse, neglect, repeated bullying). They can also occur in the absence of traumatic events, when a child has not had certain core emotional needs met (e.g. empathy, love and stability) or when a child has had too much of a good thing (indulged, overprotected or absence of appropriate limits). Alternatively, certain ways of feeling, thinking or behaving may have been modelled to a child by a parent and internalised (copied) by the child themselves.
The nuclear family clearly has a huge influence on a child's development in this respect, although as a child gets older, other influences such as peers, schooling and the wider community also become important.
A person's temperament may also play a part in the development of recurrent emotional and interpersonal problems. Some children, for example, seem to be more aggressive, cheerful or sociable from birth. These traits (likely to have more biological underpinnings) interact with a child's environment and contribute to the development of personality.
Schema Therapy which is a form of therapy specifically aimed at helping adults with recurrent emotional/interpersonal difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorders. An initial consultation will be required to confirm whether this is the most appropriate therapeutic approach for each individual.
Schema Therapy is most commonly used with adults. However, it also is sometimes appropriate to use this type of therapy with children and adolescents teenagers where repeated patterns of behaviour/emotional problems have already started to emerge.