Schema Therapy is an innovative, integrative therapeutic approach, originally developed by Jeffrey Young as an expansion of traditional cognitive-behavioral treatments. The schema approach draws from cognitive-behavioral therapy, attachment theory, psychodynamic concepts, and emotion-focused therapies. In comparison to “standard” cognitive-behavioral therapy, schema therapy places more emphasis on self-defeating life patterns, characterological problems, deep-rooted emotional themes, affective change techniques, and the therapeutic relationship, with special emphasis on limited reparenting.
Schema therapy is particularly well-suited for difficult, resistant clients with entrenched, chronic psychological disorders, including personality disorders (such as BPD and narcissism), eating disorders, intractable couples problems, and criminal offenders. It is also often effective for relapse prevention with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. The results of comparative outcome studies have shown schema therapy to be highly effective with a large percentage of outpatients with Borderline Personality Disorder, with a low dropout rate. Clients who have spent years gaining valuable insight with psychodynamic therapies, but who are frustrated by their lack of progress, often respond well to the active, systematic, flexible, and depth-oriented schema approach.