Schema Therapy is based on the idea that negative thoughts and behaviour patterns (Maladaptive Schemas) can be attributed to bad childhood experiences. These patterns can exist for long periods of time and prevent individuals from achieving their goals and meeting their needs. Schema therapists therefore aim to disrupt and break these negative patterns and replace them with more positive, healthier alternatives.
The Schema approach was conceived and developed by Dr. Jeff Young while treating patients at the University of Pennsylvania. Young discovered that certain patients failed to respond to normal psychotherapeutic methods and also exhibited certain behavioural patterns for long periods of time. Young therefore concluded that they required a different kind of treatment to treat their long-standing schemas.
This approach utilises a number of theories. These include Behavioural, Cognitive, Object Relational and Gestalt. Negative, self-defeating patterns acquired through childhood experiences are thought to perpetuate themselves throughout a person’s life, creating self-defeatist attitudes that can prevent achievement and development.
Therapists attempt to identify the negative schemas in the client’s early life/adolescence and connect them to their present situation in an effort to break the pattern.
How can Schema Therapy Help?
Schema Focused Therapy has been used to treat a very wide range of issues such as relationships, feelings of vulnerability and jealousy. It is essential that the client trust their therapist in order to work through issues.