Schema therapy is an integrative and comprehensive therapy approach that focuses on the patient as a whole for creating change in those who struggle with chronic emotional challenges, relationship problems, and other complex psychological issues that have not responded well to other forms of therapy.
A “Schema” is an enduring negative deep-rooted pattern of thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and familiar behaviors that erupt in life when triggered by events. When the schema is activated it is often linked to a deep-rooted sense of self, or an emotional memory. Our schemas are developed when childhood, adolescent needs are not met either through neglect or trauma. When schemas are active extreme negative emotions and dysfunctional thoughts are present and unhealthy coping styles will develop. Schemas can create lasting struggles in a persons life creating chronic depression and anxiety, relationship issues, poor functioning in school/work, chronic low self-esteem, repeated feelings of fear, loneliness and rejection.
The goal is not to eliminate schemas but rather to help individuals get the core needs met in an adaptive manner by enhancing healthy coping so schemas are triggered less frequency and less intensely. The goals of the schema therapist is to identify chronic self-defeating patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving. Individuals will than use a combination of talking and experiential exercising to raise emotional awareness. Working through some of the early experiences and learn how to spot emotional triggers in daily life.