Schema Therapy is an approach to the treatment of psychological problems that do not usually respond to brief therapy. Jeffrey Young has been developing schema therapy for over 25 years in the USA. It is an integrative therapy that draws on cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT), psychodynamic and relational therapies, and experiential and emotion-focused therapies. Schema therapy is now widely used internationally, with a growing presence in Europe, including in Holland, Germany, the UK, the Scandinavian countries, Italy, Romania and Bulgaria. There are also several training centres in Australia and a growing number in South America and Russia.
USEFUL LINKS: Jeffrey Young’s website offers a lot of online resources
The website of the International Society of Schema Therapy
The use of schema therapy in Holland was promoted by research on the treatment of borderline personality disorder, a condition that has usually been considered be very difficult if impossible to treat. Two research trials demonstrated that schema therapy is an effective treatment for borderline personality disorder (Giesen-Bloo et al., 2006) and since then researchers have extended the schema therapy model to a wide range of psychological problems. A 2014 study showed Schema Therapy to be significantly more effective than two major alternative approaches to the treatment of a broad range of personality disorders. Schema Therapy resulted in a higher rate of recovery, greater declines in depression, greater increases in general and social functioning and had a lower drop out rate (Bamelis, Evers, Spinhoven & Arntz, 2014). See the article abstract ….
The Dutch clinicians and researchers have also contributed to our understanding of the process of rescripting childhood memories (Arntz & Weertman, 1999; Weertman & Arntz, 2007), how to work with schema modes (Lobbestael et al., 2007 & 2008), and how to extend schema therapy to offenders in forensic settings (Bernstein, Arntz and de Vos, 2007) …..
What are early maladaptive schemas?
Each slide below shows three of the 18 EMSs that we are concerned with in schema therapy. Might this play a role in your life or the life of your clients?
Group schema therapy
Group schema therapy for borderline personality disorder (BPD) was developed by Joan Farrell and Ida Shaw in Indianapolis. It is a program that integrates psychoeducation about BPD, emotional awareness work, distress management and interpersonal skills within the Schema therapy model.
It has been shown to have a significant impact on emotional dysregulation and other severe symptoms. It is now being integrated with individual therapy to provide comprehensive treatment for many problems.
Schema therapy for couples (ST-C)
Schema therapy is regularly used with couples and the ISST offers specialised training and certification in ST-C. See Schema therapy for couples: A practitioner’s guide to healing relationships published in 2015.
Schema therapy for children and adolescents
Christof Loose in Cologne has extensive materials and training opportunities on his website (in English)
Schema therapy resources
Online videos and podcasts
- A summary of his Presentation at the ISST conference in Vienna in June 2016 on YouTube
- A discussion of his workshop at the ISST summer school in Barcelona in June 2017 on YouTube
See a March 2017 interview with Jeffrey Young the founder of schema therapy “From Cognitive Therapy to Schema Therapy and Beyond” on YouTube
Travis Atkinson interviews Eckhard Roediger, former ISST President about his workshop at the 2017 Barcelona Summer School on the use of metacognitive and interpersonal perspectives and techniques in schema therapy on YouTube.
Travis Atkinson has also done 14 other interviews on YouTube with presenters at the 2016 ISST conference in Vienna. These provide a great way to connect with what schema therapists are thinking and talking about currently.
An earlier ISST Youtube library has over 20 clips and interviews on topics such as: The unique features of schema therapy (George Lockwood), working the avoidant patients (Arnoud Arntz), reparenting a psychopath (David Bernstein), Schema therapy for couples (Travis Atkinson, Eckhard Roediger, and Wendy Behary), group schema therapy (Joan Farrell and Ida Shaw), schemas in bipolar disorder (Lisa Hawke) and how to make training in schema therapy more effective (Arnoud Arntz).
Round table discussion between Jeff Young (Schema therapy), Allan Fruzzetti (DBT) and Frank Yeomans (Transference focused therapy), showing the differences in theory and central concepts relevant to the treatment of borderline personality disorder.
Hear podcasts and see videos on Wendy Behary’s website.
iModes – David Bernstein’s psychoeducational cards
These include a set of cards illustrating the various schema modes (25 in all).
Working with modes and iModes
David Bernstein’s book Using the iModes in schema therapy and beyond features his iModes and other psychoeducational resources and gives many useful practical suggestions on how to use them to help clients more effectively.
Schema therapy for therapists
Joan Farrell and Ida Shaw have long been leaders in the development and dissemination of schema therapy. Although strongly associated with their pioneering work on group schema therapy, they have contributed broadly to schema therapy in many other areas from working with complex cases to methods of training.
This book, published in January 2018 is a wonderful resource for schema therapists. Like most forms of psychotherapy, schema therapy is not just a set of techniques applied to patients by therapists in a mechanical way. Therapy depends on building a personal relationship with clients and that calls for the schema therapists to develop their own self-awareness, openness to experience, and capacity to identify and work with their own psychological issues. This workbook provides a useful practical guide to this. Therapists who use this book will learn more about themselves in a way that they can directly apply to their work with clients.
John and Karen Louis’ wonderful summary of current attachment theory-informed parent training framed within the schema therapy approach. For parents who want to understand how to effectively parent their children. For clients who were misparented to help them understand what went wrong and what they still need. And for schema therapists to remind us what is involved in offering reparenting to clients.
Contextual schema therapy
Roediger, E., Stevens, B. A., & Brockman, R. (2018). Contextual schema therapy: An integrative approach to personality disorders, emotional dysregulation, and interpersonal functioning. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
Therapists today may find themselves asking how they can fit together the plethora of psychological concepts that bombard them from many directions? Schema therapists may ask whether schema therapy by itself is enough or whether they need other therapy approaches too. The authors of Contextual Schema Therapy show how important concepts that are well articulated within other approaches – such as mentalization, mindfulness, acceptance, metacognition and human values – can be integrated into the basic schema therapy model. Indeed, many of them are already implicit in it. In addition to showing the integrative power of the schema therapy model, this book offers a fresh and readable account of its central ideas and rich clinical examples of their application, all well-grounded in the current academic and clinical literature.
Upcoming International Events
ISST INSPIRE May 28-30 2020 Conference in Copenhagen. See announcement on ISST website.
Schema Therapy Centres
There are schema therapy training centres in 20 countries worldwide. Just a few are linked below.
The Schema Therapy Institute Midwest in Kalamazoo run by George Lockwood has a wealth of useful information.
Former ISST President, Wendy Behary, author of Disarming the narcissist provides useful resources on schema therapy in working or dealing with narcissistic individuals. She runs a training program in New Jersey with Jeff Young.
California Schema Therapy Training based in Dan Diego and Los Angeles. Featuring the book Ghost Mothers which is highly recommended.
Books on schema therapy
Music and songs
The song, A little child, by Gila Antara beautifully captures the spirit of work with the inner child which is such an important aspect of schema therapy. I often play it at my workshops. It is included on Gila’s album No rush and is available at Amazon as an mp3 download.
Guides and worksheets