Schema Therapy

Schema Therapy is an approach initially developed for Borderline Personality Disorder, but has more recently been applied to a range of other difficulties. It was developed in response to the limitations of other approaches, such as CBT, which did not appear to be as effective for more chronic and complex mental health problems. The theory broadly proposes that unmet needs in childhood lead to the development of Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMS) which act as a lens for how we interpret the world and behave. EMS are strong, resistant to change and continue to impact on how we function into adulthood. Our attempts to cope with EMS (which fall broadly into three coping styles of surrender, avoidance and overcompensation) then unintentionally perpetuate (maintain) the presence of EMS.

Schema Therapy tends to be a long-term approach and integrates various theories and models. The work combines cognitive, behavioural, experiential and interpersonal strategies to ensure maximum benefit. It is recommended that Schema Therapy is attended on a weekly basis and that homework assignments are completed between sessions. The first steps when beginning Schema Therapy involve developing a shared understanding of the development and maintenance of EMS, including identifying their role in your current difficulties. For some clients it may be recommended that we work primarily with the “mode” concept (the current EMS and coping responses currently active, or how EMS and coping styles combine to determine current emotional state) as opposed to focusing on individual EMS per se; this will be discussed with you following the assessment phase.

Schema therapy may be the approach for you if you tend to repeatedly get caught in unhelpful life patterns (e.g., in relationships), where other therapeutic approaches have not helped in the past or where your difficulties have clear roots in adverse childhood experiences. Please get in touch to arrange an initial assessment appointment to determine whether this may be the right approach for you.

For more information about this approach, you may find it helpful to visit and