© 2016 by Paul DelGrosso, LICSW

SCHEMA THERAPY

Schema Therapy is an innovative psychotherapy developed to address complex psychological conditions that have not responded to other forms of therapy.

 

In many cases difficult or traumatic early life experiences worsen conditions such as Depression, Anxiety and Chronic Stress in ways that make traditional treatments less effective. Such individuals often report that significant emotional needs were not met during childhood. They also report life patterns involving struggles with relationships, complicated issues with mood and anxiety, and feeling uncertain about the possibility of change.

 

The life patterns described above often involve broad life themes (called schemas). Schemas are enduring ways of thinking about oneself, others, and the world in general. All people have a mix of schemas that are healthy and problematic. If the problematic schemas are severe they can continually create life problems across many life domains (including relationships, work/school functioning, self-confidence, and sense of self).

 

Schemas fall under several general categories of experience, including:

 

Disconnection & Rejection

Impaired Autonomy & Performance

Impaired Limits

Excessive Responsibility & Standards.

 

Examples of schemas include:

 

Emotional Deprivation

Defectiveness/Shame

Abandonment/Instability

Failure

Subjugation/Invalidation

Insufficient Self-Control/Self-Discipline

Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness

Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking

Negativity/Pessimism

 

Schema Therapy helps people identify their problematic schemas, connect these schemas to current life problems, and work toward healing the unmet childhood needs that are at the root of schemas.

 

Schema Therapy is an evidence-based treatment that integrates elements of cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, object relations, and gestalt therapy into one unified, systematic approach to treatment. 

 

Individuals learn how to heal problematic schemas through imagery work, dialogues, and the therapeutic relationship. 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, the founder of Schema Therapy.

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