What is Schema Therapy?

Some people experience recurrent emotional difficulties and/or interpersonal difficulties. They may find it significantly difficult to manage their thoughts, perceptions and feelings, affecting the way they relate to others. Anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, anger, erratic behaviour and relationship difficulties can often result. When difficulties cause profound problems with emotional and interpersonal functioning they are sometimes called 'personality disorders'.

Schema Therapy (ST) works on the premise that recurrent emotional difficulties develop as a consequence of unmet core emotional needs during childhood. In this sense, Schema Therapy differs from Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as it focuses more on early childhood experiences which have caused lifelong difficulties rather than just dealing with the ‘here and now’. The aim of ST is to help individuals to get their core emotional needs met by eliminating ‘self-defeating’ coping strategies.

ST integrates various psychology models (including CBT and Attachment Theory), but it represents more than just a combination of techniques. ST aims to provide a common language between therapist and client which enables both parties to think about, work with, and provide explanations for disturbing experiences, emotional distress and unhelpful behaviour patterns.

The way we think about and react to certain situations may not always be the best way to get our emotional needs met – in fact they can have precisely the opposite effect. These unhelpful attitudes, beliefs and actions (“schemas”) are thought to stem from early childhood experiences, and Schema Therapy has been developed to help people escape from such “life-traps” by encouraging different, more beneficial coping strategies. Ultimately, core beliefs such as “I’m unlovable”, “I’m a failure”, “Something bad is going to happen”, “People will leave me”, “I’m not good enough” etc., can be challenged and overcome. In such cases, Schema Therapy can be beneficial in helping people to escape their “life-traps” and lead a more fulfilling life.

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Will a Schema Therapy Approach Help Me?

An initial consultation will be required to discuss the most appropriate therapeutic approach for each individual. Please contact us for further information.