Schemas are mental frameworks or thinking patterns that help us to organise information easily, allowing us to process information and paint a picture in our minds quickly.
Schemas can be developed from childhood experiences or created later in life, and consequently affect the way we behave in response to them.
Maladaptive or negative schemas are ones that are dysfunctional and counter-productive, often developed as a result of harmful early experiences, possibly from our childhood, where our emotional needs are left thoroughly unmet.
Examples of negative thoughts and beliefs that arise from such schemas include:
“I am a failure,”
“I am unimportant,”
“I am not worth being loved by someone.”
Possible types of early life experiences that could have resulted in the development of these schemas are:
- A lack of stability, understanding and affection
- Trauma in which safety is threatened
- Too much or too little autonomy given
- Identifying with attitudes or mindsets portrayed by significant others, usually parents or parental figures
How Schema Therapy Can Help You
Schema therapy helps by first recognising the client’s negative schemas and coping styles, before working towards changing them and forming healthier beliefs and behaviours.
Generally, it follows a simple process:
- Through the use of questionnaires and imagery, among other methods, maladaptive schemas and coping styles can be discovered
- Recognising and acknowledging the negative routines that clients may experience on a regular basis
- Working towards healing of schemas by allowing the client’s needs to be met and thus build healthier thoughts and behaviours
Schema therapy is helpful in treating a range of personality disorders, namely Borderline Personality Disorder.
In schema therapy, your therapist will work with you to:
- Identify your schemas to begin healing from them
- Address coping styles that may be hindering your emotional needs
- Change patterns of feelings and behaviours that are born out of schemas
- Get your core emotional needs met in healthy and adaptive ways
- Learn healthy ways to cope when some needs are not able to be met
In summary, schema therapy will help a person develop a strong, healthy adult mode –– basically, we can re-parent ourselves through schema therapy.
Having a healthy adult mode will help you to heal. It will also help to regulate your other modes and overcome their effects on you.