Schema Therapy

What is schema therapy?

Schema therapy, or schema focused therapy, was first developed as an innovative treatment for personality disorders and other persistent conditions. The benefits of this therapy are far reaching and go beyond providing symptomatic treatments. They provide a meaningful treatment for personality disorders and other persistent conditions. For example, for those suffering from conditions such as major depression, persistent anxiety and fear, or trauma, schema therapy offers a meaningful alternative in treatment.

A brief history of schema therapy

Originally developed by Young and colleagues in 1990, the treatment attempted to expend the existing cognitive behavioural way of treating psychological issues. This was the major treatment at the time, and still is in many ways. Schema focused therapy did this by building on the existing theory, and attempting to blend other important psychological concepts, like attachment. Instead of just focusing on thoughts and feelings, and the relationship between them, schema therapy asked: Where do these thoughts, feeling sand motivations in life come from? To this end, schema therapy blended psychoanalytic concepts such as object relations with attachment, Gestalt and cognitive-behavioural models of therapy. The end product was a more comprehensive framework that extended existing treatment and provided a much broader framework for understanding life and the psychological issues that people suffer from. For this reason, it is an excellent way of treating persistent conditions and complex psychological conditions and has show great efficacy in PTSD and trauma. Trauma is a key interest area at our clinic, MVS Psychology Group, and we encourage you to get in touch if this is something you have experienced and would like help with.

What we have found at MVS Psychology Group

We have found that the cognitive behavioural paradigm (thoughts, behaviours, feelings or CBT), while very helpful, is often experienced by patients as “missing the mark”. While sometimes effective with targeting symptoms, the underlying cause is often felt as “the same” or “stuck and still repeating”. Many psychological treatments also assume that people are motivated to create change in their lives. We believe motivation is more complicated than that, and that people, and life, are probably a little more complex and dynamic than this! Schema focused therapy can provide a way of generating more meaning for your experiences in therapy, life, relationships and work. For many, this level of meaning is experienced as a welcome relief. After all, meaning is what we all want in life, but the things we do, or the way we feel, often doesn’t make sense to us.

How does schema therapy work?

Schema focused therapy helps to create meaning by collaborating with you to discover and understand your core schemas, or beliefs. These often lead to increased insight and sense of being understood which can help people to make different decisions in their lives. Schemas are believed to originate in early life during childhood and adolesence and they commonly underlie the choices that we make as adults. If you are doing something that doesn’t make sense to you, then a schema may be responsible for your choices and feelings. There are 18 core schemas identified in research.

What is an example of schema therapy in practice?

For example, a ‘defectiveness and shame‘ schema is commonly associated with feelings of being “bad, unwanted, inferior” and can lead people to become either hypersensitive to criticism, rejection or blame or fearful of relationships and “being exposed”. People with this schema are also commonly self-conscious and may even feel a high degree of shame about perceptions/thoughts of what other people may think of them. Deeper feelings of being unlovable can lead to intense fear that one may be discovered or seen, especially to a significant other or loved one, which can be quite frightening if someone believes that what is inside is defective. As you can imagine, this can wreak havoc on relationships, work and your private time with yourself. These ideas often originate in childhood in our relationships with parents and caregivers and are commonly associated with trauma, eating disorders, relationship problems and anxiety/depression. If this sounds like you, please get in touch. Schema focused therapy may be able to help you and this is a treatment that we often incorporate in our broader treatment program.

How is schema therapy unique?

Schema therapy is unique in that it focuses on these core ideas and attempts to help people to 1) identify these subtle and often unconscious motivations to build insight; while also helping people to 2) change their relationship to these schemas so that they do not have such a driving force in their everyday life and relationships. This treatment focuses on identifying themes or beliefs that are established in early life with the view that these early ideas about oneself, others and the wider environment are elaborated throughout
one’s life. These deeply held beliefs exist in all of us and are unconditional – meaning that they do not necessarily respond to rationalisation or challenging alone. Therefore, they require targeted assessment and moderate-term treatment to resolve.

What can I do?

Please get in touch with us on the link below to make an appointment with a clinical psychologist in Melbourne. We are experienced in providing schema therapy for a variety of conditions, including PTSD and trauma, anxiety/depression, and personality disorders including borderline personality disorder. However, we may suggest providing this treatment in conjunction with another, hence the term schema focused therapy in Melbourne, so we recommend booking in for a consultation to discuss your thoughts and needs such that we can provide a holistic and sensitive treatment that addresses your needs and helps you to feel understood.

How do we work together?

If you are looking for a clinical psychologist Melbourne who can help you with schema focused therapy, then you are in the right place. We are a group of caring and professional individuals experienced in schema focused therapy. Our goal is to help you to understand yourself, and lead a healthier and happier life. We believe that therapy is not a one-size-fits-all process, and we like to adapt our treatment to you and your individual needs. We may suggest schema focused therapy, and we may also suggest other treatments as we get to know you. Our ethos is to provide excellent care in a way that does not make assumptions about you. Instead, we try to develop a mutual understanding of you and your concerns together. As a clinical psychologist in Melbourne, we are here to help! Please get in touch today.

For more information about Schema Therapy, get in touch with us today

CONCERNS

depression

anxiety and phobias

personality disorders

gender, identity and sexuality

stress management