treatment approaches - qualia psychology


Schema Therapy is an integrative therapy which includes elements of cognitive behavioural, experiential, interpersonal and psychoanalytic therapies in one unified approach. This is a longer-term therapy, developed to assist individuals with long-standing negative life patterns who are not experiencing the change and success they hoped for from standard short-term treatments like CBT and DBT.

A schema can be described as an aspect of our personality or a blue-print for how we understand our world. Schemas can develop in childhood through our interactions with caregivers and through other notable life experiences, such as trauma, emotional abuse, or neglect.

Our early childhood experiences can have a huge impact on our later wellbeing. Childhood leaves an imprint through both teaching us what to expect through our reality, but also what is the best way to respond to our reality. It does this by creating templates (schemas) in our mind about how the world works.

Schemas are enduring themes and self-defeating patterns that typically assist the individual to survive or cope with painful feelings associated from unfulfilled core emotional childhood needs. Schemas operate in the background of our awareness. However, they have great influence over our sense of self, our expectations about life, and the quality of our relationships. While schemas can develop in childhood, the effects are often seen most acutely in adulthood. When our schemas are triggered by certain situations, or people, they can lead us to respond in non-helpful ways. These are referred to as ‘coping styles’ and can be grouped into three broad categories – fight, flight or freeze.

The Schema therapy model of treatment is designed to help us break these negative patterns, and to develop healthier alternatives to either cope with or replace them. Schema therapy consists of three stages:

1. First are the assessment stages, in which your schemas are identified
2. Second is the emotional awareness and experiential stage, when you get in touch with these schemas and learn how to spot them when they are operating in day-to-day life.
3. Third is the behavioural change stage, during which you are actively involved in replacing negative, habitual thoughts and behaviours with new, healthy cognitive and behavioural options.