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Schema Therapy

What kind of therapy is it?

Schema therapy brings together the insights of psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapy and the techniques of the cognitive and behavioural therapies.

What problems can it help with?

Schema therapy was designed to help with longstanding problems that seem resistant to change (e.g. that other therapies have not fixed) and that are rooted in early life experience.

How does it work?

Schema therapy aims to identify the client’s unhelpful “schemas” - persistent patterns of thought, feeling, and behaviour that arise from unmet needs in childhood and/or adolescence. The therapist and client use a wide range of therapeutic techniques to “heal” the schemas and move towards healthier, more positive forms of behaviour.

What is a typical session like?

Schema therapy is a long-term therapy (i.e. at least a year), and you will often be asked to complete assignments or practise techniques in between sessions. In the early stages of therapy, sessions will be focused on identifying schemas using questionnaires, imagery exercises, and discussion. Later, the emphasis will switch to working on your schemas using role-play, imagery exercises, and techniques for changing thinking patterns. Later still, the emphasis will be on planning to change your behaviour outside of sessions. Throughout the therapy, there is an emphasis on the relationship between you and the therapist - this is seen as a potential antidote to bad experiences in early relationships.

What is the evidence?

Schema therapy has been found to help with personality disorders, chronic depression and anxiety, eating disorders, and alcohol and drug misuse.

Further reading:
The British Psychological Society
Amazon: The Breakthrough Program To End Negative Behaviour And Feel Great Again Paperback


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