Schema Therapy is an innovative approach that was developed by Dr Jeffrey Young in the 1980s to help clients with more difficult and longer term psychological difficulties. Schema therapy integrates techniques from numerous approaches to target dysfunctional beliefs and behaviour patterns developed early in life that are repeated over time.
Schema Therapy is effective for complex and entrenched psychological difficulties and explores current problems clients are experiencing, as well as the historical sources of these difficulties. It’s an interactive therapeutic approach that utilises a range of techniques (e.g. imagery, chair work) to help develop a different way of navigating life and our relationships with ourselves and others. The therapist and client work together to build a supportive and trusting therapeutic relationship in order to create a safe environment for therapy to take place.
Schemas are enduring patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that typically develop in childhood and adolescence and persist into adulthood. They develop from an interplay between the child’s innate temperament, and the child’s ongoing damaging experiences with parents, siblings or peers. We all have schemas, however how they impact on our functioning and quality of life will vary between people. Painful and damaging schemas can have an ongoing negative impact on our mental health, relationships, and ways of coping (e.g. “I’m unlovable”, “I can’t rely on others to be there for me”, “I’m a failure”).
Schema therapy can be very effective in helping with these longterm distressing issues. There is a growing body of research supporting the effectiveness of Schema Therapy, and the approach is continuing to evolve as its use internationally is growing.