Schema Therapy

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 where it is widely used.  It is an integrative therapy that draws on cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT), psychodynamic and relational therapies, and experiential and expressive therapies. Schema therapy is also widely used in Europe, particularly in Holland, Germany, the UK and the Scandinavian countries.

International Society of Schema Therapy
Jeffrey Young’s website  offers a lot of online resources
An interview with Jeffrey Young with Eckhard Roediger, current ISST President

The use of schema therapy in Holland was promoted by research on the treatment of borderline personality disorder, a condition that has been found to be very difficult to treat. Two research trials demonstrated that schema therapy is an effective treatment borderline personality disorder (Giesen-Bloo et al., 2006) and research is ongoing in extending the schema therapy model to a wide range of psychological problems. A 2014 study has shown 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).

In the USA, an eight month group therapy program based on schema therapy has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of borderline personality disorder (Farrell, Shaw & Webber, 2009) and this research has led to the development of comprehensive treatment programs that integrate individual and group schema therapy.

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?

Online videos and podcasts

The ISST’s Youtube library now 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.

Arnoud Arntz on ST for borderline personality disorder (In Dutch)

Hear podcasts and see videos on Wendy Behary’s website

Schema therapy for couples (ST-C)

Schema therapy is regularly used with couples.  Training and certification has recently been introduced by the ISST and a new book will be published in July 2015.

See also;

Group schema therapy

Read about Joan Farrell and Ida Shaw’s innovative group schema therapy approach for borderline personality disorder and how it is being integrated with individual therapy to provide comprehensive treatment for many problems.

Other Schema Therapy Centres

The Schema Therapy Institute Midwest in Kalamazoo run by George Lockwood has a wealth of useful information.

Website of Wendy Behary, author of Disarming the narcissist, and former ISST President has useful resources particularly on the use of schema therapy in working or dealing with narcissistic individuals.

The Dutch schema therapy research and training group (In Dutch)

Melanie Greenberg, a schema therapist based in California uses schema therapy concepts and perspectives in several of her blogs:

When the voice inside your head turns bad 
Why Can’t I Get the Job Done on Time? 
Learning to be present with yourself 

Schema therapy for children and adolescents

Christof Loose based in Cologne has extensive materials and training opportunities on his website  (in English)

Music and songs

Gila Antara’s song A little child 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 new album No rush  and is available at Amazon as an mp3 download.

Downloadable documents

Using schemas and schema modes as a basis for formulation and treatment planning in schema therapy by David Edwards

List of early maladaptive schemas

List of schema modes

List of research publications on schema therapy

Logbook for schema triggering and mode analysis – pdf version or Word version



Schema therapy and mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation has been practiced for centuries and its value for mental health has been the focus of research for over 30 years. Schema therapists recognize the value of mindfulness meditation and several of them practice it themselves and recommend it to their clients.