Schema Therapy (ST) is an evidenced-based therapy that addresses current self-defeating life patterns by connecting them to unmet core emotional needs in childhood. Through integrated strategies, ST provides corrective emotional experiences to foster new meaning out of life struggles - and ultimately enhance the ability to get needs met in healthier ways.


ST was developed by Jeffrey Young for conditions that did not respond well to traditional forms of psychotherapy. He conceptualized 18 early maladaptive schemas (broad life patterns) and 4 broad categories of modes (behaviors that activate when schemas are triggered).

Young recognized that if any of the 5 core needs (secure attachment, autonomy, freedom to express valid needs and emotions, spontaneity and play, and realistic limits and self-control) were not adequately met in childhood, maladaptive schemas will form.


Schemas are enduring ways of thinking about oneself, others, and the world in general. Each person has a unique mix of schemas that are both healthy and problematic. If the problematic schemas are severe they can lead to chronic life problems across many life domains (including relationships, work/school functioning, self-confidence, and sense of self).

The power and effectiveness of ST resides in many of its healing components, including the felt relational connection with the therapist through "limited reparenting" and "empathic confrontation" as well as experiential techniques such as imagery rescripting and transformational chair work. Over time, healthy coping strategies are developed, schemas gradually become less triggering, and emotions and life challenges are more easily managed.

A good introduction to Schema Therapy is the self-help book "Reinventing Your Life: The Breakthrough Program to End Negative Behavior and Feel Great Again" by Jeffrey Young, PhD.

I am an Advanced Certified Schema Therapist, Supervisor and Trainer and am a member of the International Society of Schema Therapy.

© 2016 by Paul DelGrosso, LICSW