Schema Therapy

Schema therapy is the type of therapy that combines certain elements of other specific therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy, attachment theory, psychoanalysis, and emotion-focused therapy. It is an integrative approach with the main aim of treating mental illness and personality disorders that might not be responding to other treatments. Particularly, it has been widely used to treat borderline personality disorder.

Schema therapy focuses on teaching you to meet your emotional needs healthily thus avoiding any distress. The therapist and the client work side by side to uncover and understand the schemas that are unhelpful patterns that some people develop if their emotional needs aren’t fulfilled as a child.

How to find a Schema Therapist

If you are looking to find the perfect Schema Therapist it is crucial to make sure that they have the appropriate qualifications, knowledge and experience. At Expat Therapy 4U we only accept therapists who have full professional proficiency in English and are highly experienced in working with people from culturally diverse backgrounds. The clinicians we approve share our values and commitment to provide high quality therapy to the expatriate community in the private sector across Europe and online worldwide. We strongly believe that therapy changes lives, and being accredited ensures all our therapists are qualified to a high standard. You can find a Schema Therapist who is insured to practice and accredited with a recognised membership body online here.

What is Schema Therapy?

It is an evidence-based approach that aims at bringing the necessary changes in the personality of individuals with relationships and other chronic emotional issues. It is grounded on cognitive behavioural theory, but it is an integrative approach that includes the elements from other theories as well.

Schema therapy focuses on the following things:

  • Exploring and enabling the stronger parts of the client’s personality.
  • Identifying and reducing the self-defeating patterns and deeply rooted emotional issues.
  • Making the client able to respond productively towards the life challenges.

What is a schema?

A schema is a stable, long-lasting pattern that develops during early childhood or adolescence and it is then further reinforced by our beliefs, thoughts, emotions, relationships, and other factors throughout life. We develop negative schemas when our childhood needs aren’t met. Only when parents know how to fulfill a child’s emotional needs, the child can lead a mentally healthy life. Following are the basic needs of a child:

  • Empathy
  • Safety
  • Stable base
  • Acceptance and praise
  • Love and attention
  • Guidance and protection
  • Validation of feelings

When these needs aren’t met, schemas are triggered which then leads to negative emotions and dysfunctional thoughts that can lead to mental challenges. Due to this, the following schemas can be developed:

  • Emotional deprivation
  • Social isolation
  • Defectiveness
  • Mistrust-Abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Dependence
  • Failure
  • Vulnerability to Illness
  • Enmeshment
  • Subjugation
  • Emotional inhibition
  • Unrelenting standards
  • Insufficient self-control
  • Approval-seeking
  • Entitlement
  • Punitiveness
  • Pessimism

How does Schema Therapy work?

Schema therapy doesn’t focus on eliminating the schemas, instead, it is about meeting the core needs that were neglected and introduce you to a healthy adult coping mode. This way, it helps the client in overcoming the phase of schemas and often the schemas are triggered less than the usual. Here is how the therapy works:

Identifying and educating

It can take up to five to seven sessions of the therapy where the focus is about:

  • Educating the client about the schema therapy model
  • Using inventories, interviews, and tools to assess and identify the schemas of the client.
  • Using various schema inventories and evaluating them.
  • Activating the schemas in the client using techniques such as imagery
  • Observing the emergence and the role of the schema in the therapy.

Schema therapy treatment

It is a deep-oriented and long-term treatment that deals with chronic emotional issues and relationship problems leading to personality changes. So, this treatment can go about for one to two years with weekly sessions. Here are some of the techniques that are used in schema therapy to introduce the changes:

  • Cognitive techniques – These include schema diaries, learning about the pros and cons of the schemas and the coping styles, flashcards, and schema dialogues.
  • Behavioural techniques – it includes teaching them basic skills, behavioural assignments, and making them learn the exposure tasks whenever they face triggering situations.
  • Emotion-Focused Techniques – From this therapy, role plays, two chair work, and imagery are used.
  • Therapy Relationship – It includes empathetic confrontation and assessing the schemas when they are triggered during a session.

What can Schema Therapy help with?

Schema therapy was developed to treat mental health issues and psychological disorders that can happen due to any reason in any phase of life. However, studies have proven that schema therapy is best for treating the following issues:

  • Relationship issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Anxiety
  • Criminal behaviour
  • Chronic depression
  • Personality disorder

Particularly schema therapy has proven to be very effective for the treatment of borderline personality disorder. It was also seen that this therapy can keep the clients coming even for years and the dropout rate is way less than other therapies. Moreover, schema therapy has shown much potential for dealing with a narcissistic personality disorder as well.

What are the goals of Schema Therapy?

The main goal of schema therapy is to reduce the intensity of schemas and help the client deal with the triggering situation in a better way. In the therapy, the therapist works towards the following goals:

  • Identify and start the process of healing the schemas
  • Identify the coping styles that are in the ways of fulfilling emotional needs
  • Changing the thought patterns and feelings that are the result of negative schemas.
  • Learning how to fulfill your emotional needs in a healthy and better adaptive way.
  • Learning to cope with the frustration and anxiety when the emotional needs aren’t met.

Find a Schema Therapist through the Expat Therapy 4U platform

Schema therapy has proven its worth and it is found to be an effective approach towards self-actualisation and fulfillment. Overall, the goal of schema therapy is to make the client stronger and help them enter the healthy adult mode. When the healthy adult mode is well developed, it can help the adult in other phases of life as well. The person learns to deal with other issues and challenges in a better way after being treated with this therapy.

Further Readings on Schema Therapy


About Expat Therapy 4U

Expat Therapy 4U is the result of 5 years’ experience running The International Psychology Clinic, the first private therapy service based in London specialized in multilingual and multicultural therapy.

The platform is run by Dr Martina Paglia. Dr Martina is a leading dual qualified Clinical and Counselling psychologist who helps patients by providing bespoke psychological services including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Counselling and Psychotherapy in London and online worldwide.

Our network comprises highly qualified and experienced private therapists who have made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of expats worldwide. All members of our community are highly experienced working in cross-cultural environments.

We are passionate about delivering first-class patient-centred, safe and effective care. If you would like to work with a warm, inclusive, caring and professional English-speaking therapist in Europe or online worldwide you have come to the right place.

If you are looking for the perfect expat Therapist in Europe or online worldwide, our team is dedicated to help you find your best match. We offer a client guarantee where clients can re-book with a different therapist if they are not satisfied with their first therapy session.

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