What is Schema Therapy (ST)?
Schema Therapy integrates Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and several different schools of therapy including object relations and gestalt therapy into a unified therapy.It was developed by Jeffrey Young for more complex problems that were not adequately helped by Cognitive Behavior Therapy. It focuses more on exploring childhood and adolescent origins of psychological problems, which have led to the development of maladaptive coping styles. It uses cognitive, experiential and emotive techniques.
Schemas are broad, pervasive SELF-DEFEATING themes or patterns related to self image, relationships and general view of the world. They consist of very strong thoughts/beliefs/memories, intense emotional experience and bodily sensations that drive behaviour. They develop due to early experiences of unmet emotional needs as an attempt to cope. New experiences are often interpreted or distorted to fit them. They are powerful, inflexible and resistant to change as there is a lifetime of memories and reinforcement to support them. They may feel familiar and comfortable to hold onto and you may not even be aware of them.
An example of a very common schema that makes people vulnerable to depression, anxiety and stress is UNRELENTING STANDARDS (perfectionism or unrealistic expectations).
The ultimate goal of schema therapy is to help you find adaptive ways to meet your emotional needs as a healthy adult.