Basic Guide to Schema Therapy Techniques

Schema therapy focuses on the promotion of healthy thinking patterns and behaviours. It does this by using various cognitive and behavioural techniques. Schema therapists believe that the emotional centre of the brain has to be reached in order to create deeper changes in a person.

You can look for practices that specialise in schema therapy to find out all you need to know about this form of therapy. There is also a lot of online content that is created to explain how the process works and how you can achieve a better mental state from it. There are flash cards which contain written statements or audio statements that can be used as transitional objects. The client can listen to the sentiments that are expressed in the flash cards to understand the message it implies by considering it from an outside perspective. These are used in early stages of treatment. Most of the messages that are on the flash cards will relate to the internalised statements of the individual and it will allow them to look at these messages in a critical way. The therapist will ask you to fill out a form between sessions so that you can put down your thoughts into order and understand schema driven reactions in yourself better. A schema diary can be kept so that you can track your emotional progress through the sessions and understand how you came to be where you are at the moment.                

There are many behavioural techniques that are used in schema therapy. Some of these techniques include empathy training when the individual has entitlement schemas and assertive training to deal with surrendering behaviours. For those that have avoidance modes, the therapist will devise exposure tasks to get them out of their familiar patterns. Also, the therapist will use imagery as a form of experiential emotional techniques. The images used will evoke emotion and bring up gut level feelings that make up the schemas of a person. Guided imagery is used in early stages of schema sessions to provide additional information about the schemas and modes. Once the client brings up emotion that is evoked by the imagery, they can be asked to role play and carry out a dialogue with significant people of their childhood that helped in forming their core schemas.

The therapist will ask the individual to look at different parts of themselves to understand their emotional turmoil. To access these deeper emotions, chair work is used where the individual can move between two chairs and speak to different parts of themselves. This is used in combination with imagery. There are also interpersonal strategies that are used such as limited reparenting and empathic confrontation. Limited reparenting reaches the vulnerable child inside an individual and reassuring them and helping them fight problematic parent modes or schemas. In empathic confrontation, the client is asked to confront these negative behaviours and understand how their childhood schemas and coping mechanisms have contributed to them. This can provide insight to the client to understand how their behaviour is interpreted by other people in their life and what they can do to create better relationships.