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Schema therapy is a cognitive behavioral approach to addressing anxiety, depression and even borderline personality disorder.

What are Schema
~ Schema are mental or cognitive representations or beliefs about a particular person or event that we repeat(and hopefully adjust) throughout our lives
~ Schema about ourselves and our goodness
~ Schema about going to the doctor
~ Schema about job interviews
~ Schema about news media
~ Schema about flu season that cause anxiety and depression
~ Schema about the stock market that cause anxiety and depression
~ Schema about coronavirus
~ Schema about the safety or dangerousness of other people
~ Schema are a type of metacognition
General Categories of Schema
~ Security/ Abandonment
~ Trust & Safety / Abuse
~ Emotional Support / Emotional Deprivation & Invalidation
~ Self Determination / Vulnerability To Emotional or Physical Harm
~ Positivity & Optimism / Negativity & Pessimism
~ Acceptance And Contentment / Hypercriticalness
~ Competence / Defectiveness
~ Independence / Dependence
~ Self Concept & Esteem /Enmeshment
~ Success & Empowerment / Failure
~ Self Control / Lack of Self Control & Subjugation
~ Belongingness, Connectedness vs. Alientation

How are they formed
~ Schema are formed based on the interpretation and memories of experiences or cognitions
~ They are a short-cut the brain creates to help us better anticipate future situations and guide out behavioral responses
~ Interpretation is impacted by
~ The person’s age and prior similar experiences
~ The person’s cognitive development and metacognition
~ Children tend to personalize, dichotomize and overgeneralize
~ People with trauma histories may notice and remember more threats in the environment (Hypervigilant thinking)
~ If you have had a bad experience with something, then you likely expect another bad experience (waiting in a doctor’s office; shots; the flu; thunderstorms)

How Schema Become Outdated

~ What was dangerous to you as a child may no longer be dangerous (staying home alone)
~ What was dangerous to you in the past (abusive significant other, emotional dysregulation) may not apply in the present (current SO, emotional regulation)
~ The expectations that applied to something 20 years ago may not apply now (stock market, cancer, HIV)

Why Schema May Be Inaccurate
~ Emotional Valence
~ We tend to notice threats when we are in a dysphoric mood
~ Lack of Knowledge
~ Fear mongering headlines
~ Conflicting or inaccurate information

Forming Healthy Schema
Cognitive Behavioral Approaches teach us that our thoughts, feelings and behaviors are connected. TO form healthy schema we need healthy thoughts.
~ Basic needs include:
~ Consistency and Predictability
~ Responsiveness
~ Acceptance and Attention
~ Validation
~ Empathy and Encouragement
~ Safety and Support in Solution Generation

Adjusting Schema
~ Identify and evaluate current schema that cause distress
~ Evaluate the facts
~ Address cognitive distortions (overgeneralization)
~ Explore schema related to old situations with “fresh eyes”
~ Abandonment
~ Safety
~ Emotional dysregulation

Also check out our other podcasts, Happiness Isn't Brain Surgery and Addiction Counselor Exam Review

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