Schema Therapy was developed by Jeffery E. Young for the treatment of personality disorders, but can and is used to treat chronic problems that may have been cause by difficult childhood experiences and environments, which may have lead to entrenched interpersonal and identity difficulties. It combines aspects of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Gestalt experiential therapy and psychoanalytic thinking. Schema’s refer to self-defeating core themes or ‘life traps’ that an individual may continue to repeat throughout their lives. These entrenched patterns not only are associated with thoughts or beliefs but also with emotions and bodily sensations.
Schemas are developed early on and when core childhood needs (attachment/ security; validation of emotions and needs; independence; boundaries/ limitations; spontaneity/ play). As a result an individual may develop strong maladaptive beliefs about ourselves and others and engage in unhelpful or self destructive patterns to reduce their distress and have these needs met in later life.