Schema Therapy is an integrative therapy incorporating elements of cognitive behavioural, transactional analysis, psychodynamic and gestalt therapies. It is used to treat more complex and longstanding problems that are not always helped by the “here and now” approach of CBT, enabling clients to understand, and then rework how their early experiences shape their current reactions.
- Schemas are our core patterns or behaviours that we tend to repeatedly use throughout our lives. They can sometimes lie dormant for a long time, being activated by certain triggers
- Coping Styles are the way we adapt to schemas and early life experiences. These are often unhealthy and tend to maintain or worsen the problems.
- Modes are particular emotional states that we all slip into from time to time. Whilst we can be in a dominant state or mode for some time, we can flip over into other modes. For example someone may find themselves sometimes clingy and needy, and then angry and then self-critical. Or others may find themselves trying to please and working really hard to get things right, only to flip later into feeling worthless and a failure.
Schema therapy helps clients to understand the unhelpful modes and coping styles and move towards a “healthy adult” approach, which is a way of responding in a balanced, non-destructive and gently assertive way to triggers.
As this work often involves revisiting childhood patterns which have been established for a long term, this is often a longer term therapy.