Introduction

This page will provide you with an overview of the goals, theory and strategies of Schema Therapy.


The four main concepts in the Schema Therapy model are: Early Maladaptive Schemas, Schema Domains, Coping Styles, and Schema Modes.
The 18 Early Maladaptive Schemas are self-defeating, core themes or patterns that we keep repeating throughout our lives. The Schema Domains define 5 broad categories of emotional needs of a child (connection, mutuality, reciprocity, flow and autonomy). When these needs are not met, schemas develop that lead to unhealthy life patterns. Coping Styles refer to the ways a child adapts to damaging childhood experiences. For example, some surrender to their schemas; some find ways to block out or escape from pain; while others fight back or overcompensate.


Schema Modes are the moment-to-moment emotional states and coping responses that we all experience. Our maladaptive schema modes are triggered by life situations that we are oversensitive to (our "emotional buttons"). Many schema modes lead us to over or under react to situations and, thus, to act in ways that end up hurting us or others.


The goal of schema therapy is to help patients get their core emotional needs met. Key steps in accomplishing this involve learning how to:
• Stop using maladaptive coping styles and modes that block contact with feelings
• Heal schemas and vulnerable modes through getting needs met in and outside of the therapeutic relationship
• Incorporate reasonable limits for angry, impulsive or overcompensating schemas and modes
• Fight punitive, overly critical or demanding schemas and modes
• Build healthy schemas and modes