What is Schema Therapy? 7 Interesting Things to Know

Schema therapy is a fairly new form of therapy that has been gaining popularity in recent years. It is said to be more effective than traditional therapies for certain populations, such as those with personality disorders. But what is schema therapy, exactly? And what are the key principles behind it? Here are seven interesting things to know about schema therapy.

The Schema Therapy model, developed by Jeffrey Young, focuses on discovering and changing early life experiences and their reflections during adulthood. The approach, which set out with the target of change-resistant difficult cases or personality disorders, has started to be applied in other psychological problem areas in different problems such as individual, group, and couple therapies. Researches carried out over the last decade has begun to provide remarkable evidence of the approach’s effectiveness.

Who is Jeffrey Young?

Jeffrey Young is a psychiatrist who specializes in chronic pain and has written extensively on the topic. He is the founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for pain, which is a form of therapy that has been shown to be effective in reducing chronic pain. He also teaches at Columbia University and Yale University.

Schemas are patterns of thought, emotions, and behaviors that occur in the early years of life. Over time, schemas become solid, immutable, unconditional evaluations. Thanks to these features, the schemes become stronger and more difficult to replace. The schemes act as filters in which we put the information that we receive into us. We evaluate events according to the schemes we have and make our decisions according to the schemes. This often causes us to distort the information.

Jeffrey Young developed schema therapy as a unique school in the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy approach. The definition of schema therapy can be made as follows:

Schema therapy is a psychotherapy schema directed towards patients for whom emotional and behavioral dysfunctions are intimately related to personality organization problems. A personality is considered organized when it can regulate, synthesize and balance the various aspects of an individual’s life in order to achieve enduring psychological health.

Formation of Psychological Problems in Terms of Schema Therapy

In schema therapy, incompatible schemes are thought to arise when the basic needs of a person cannot be met. To be more precise, the schemes emerge when the basic needs are not met in childhood and adolescence, and they cause the basic needs not to be met in adulthood. The basic needs affecting the formation of the schemes are:

  • Safe Attachment to Others (approaches involving security, stability, maintenance, acceptance)
  • Freedom of Movement, Competence and Positive Identity Perception
  • Freedom of Expression of Needs and Emotions
  • Spontaneity And Game
  • Realistic Limits And Self-Control

These basic needs need to be eliminated so that the “essence” that exists in human beings can be revealed and “self-realization”. Every basic need that cannot be met creates unique problem areas/schema areas. Schemes can be created in 3 basic ways:

Preventing Needs at a Damaging Level: Because of being human, every person may be deprived of some positive experiences. Normally, people can tolerate their unresolved needs and maintain their lives normally. However, our most basic human needs can sometimes be hampered to a degree we cannot overcome. The people who usually act here are our parents or the people who care for us.

Bumping, Victimization, Bad Behavior: Any blow that will happen to us in life and that may disrupt our integrity can fall into this group. These blows can result from people or nature. For example, they can be a result of an earthquake or harassment.

Overpowering Good Things: Boundaries as much as freedom are necessary for human development. Rollo May expresses this situation with river aphorism. In order for a river to form, borders are needed as much as water.

Selective internalization, identification, temperament and cultural elements also play an active role in schema formation.

The main purpose of schema therapy is to identify the schemes underlying the current problems of the clients and to help them reach their basic needs (love-bonding, freedom of movement, fun, self-expression and creating realistic limits) in healthy ways.

Last Updated on December 17, 2021 by Patric Johnson

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He is studying psychology in Canada. Lucas also volunteers helping elderly people in nursing homes. Lucas, who is especially interested in hypnotherapy, continues his education and research in this field.

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