Schema Therapy is a 3rd wave iteration of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. It aims to identify and address schemas, which are mental constructs or ways of conceptualizing the world. Maladaptive schemas are counterproductive to our wellbeing and can affect interpersonal and personal outcomes. Schema therapy suggests that particularly influential, and possibly traumatic, childhood/adolescent experiences cause these maladaptive schemas. These schemas are gradually reinforced over time as we interpret similar experiences as further support for this schema. Read on to learn how early childhood experiences can shape our worldview as adults.
There are five domains in which a maladaptive schema can fall, domain 1 is explored below:
Disconnection and Rejection
When a child’s need to feel safe, secure and nurtured is not met, it will likely lead to a schema in the domain of disconnection rejection.
There are 5 schemas in this domain, they are:
- ABANDONMENT / INSTABILITY
- MISTRUST / ABUSE
- EMOTIONAL DEPRIVATION
- DEFECTIVENESS / SHAME
- SOCIAL ISOLATION / ALIENATION
A child who develops a schema of abandonment/instability will begin to view later life experiences in this vein. Even if the experience is objectively benign, like someone canceling plans, they are likely to consider this further evidence that people will always abandon them or are unreliable. For this person and their relationships, it can make normal relationship occurrences a source of distress and conflict.
Schema Therapy uses different exercises, assessments and techniques to address maladaptive schemas and the dysfunction they can cause. With the help of a schema therapy practitioner, people can learn to identify when they are acting out of maladaptive modes. Through the support and guidance of a psychologist, the person can learn to address their own needs that were not met during childhood. In turn, this will allow them to fully engage in relationships and other meaningful pursuits.
For more information on our schema therapy practitioners at The Three Seas Psychology, call us on 9809 1000.
Young, J. E., Klosko, J. S., & Weishaar, M. E. (2003). Schema therapy: A practitioner’s guide. Guilford Press.