Schema Therapy
in Brighton and Hove

What is Schema Therapy?

Schema Therapy (ST) is an integrative therapeutic approach. It draws on a range of therapeutic modalities including psychodynamic, object relations, gestalt, person-centred and cognitive-behavioural (CBT), and is embedded in attachment and developmental theory and research. 

Schema Therapy is particularly effective with issues that need a deeper approach and which don’t respond that well to first-line therapeutic approaches such as CBT and counselling. If you’ve tried these approaches and find they didn’t get the results you wanted, then Schema Therapy could offer the emotional change you are looking for. Schema therapy helps to understand the core unmet needs in childhood that shaped the way a person lives their life and addresses the deepest of schema belief patterns, emotions and interpersonal patterns. 

ST focuses on providing insight, meeting emotional needs, positive relational experiences within the therapy relationship and emotional change through emotionally focussed, experiential techniques. Schema Therapy aims to facilitate deeper level ‘core’ emotional growth and change and proposes that balance and homeostasis are achieved only when core emotional needs are consistently met in healthy ways. It is designed to be a medium to long term therapy approach, which can be adapted to shorter term work where necessary.

Who is Schema Therapy for?

ST is suitable for many emotional problems and diagnoses and most clients comment on how much it helps them make sense of and work with their difficulties. It helps people easily understand why they might have a number of conflicting thoughts and behaviours and is effective for working with self sabotage patterns. 

Schema Therapy is particularly helpful for longer term and chronic difficulties, and for anyone who experiences attachment-based challenges. Is is effective for anyone who suffers with emotional dysregulation issues such as fast changing emotions or for emotions that feel ‘stuck’.

Schema Therapy is also very helpful in motivating change because it makes clear how to do that by meeting emotional needs. Therefore, unlike approaches like CBT the focus isn’t on intellectual change or simply targeting unhelpful behaviours, rather it very clearly focuses on meeting unmet emotional needs. Meeting core emotional needs brings relief, increases self value and self care and changes life and relationships for the better.

Schema Therapy evidence?

Schema Therapy has a strong body of evidence and demonstrates effectiveness within randomised controlled trials as a treatment for Personality based struggles. It is also proven effective for chronic depression, chronic anxiety disorders, eating disorders, ruminative struggles and substance misuse. It is used regularly within the NHS because of it’s strong evidence base.

Schema Therapy has also been adapted for couples therapy, as well as work with children and teenagers.

What does Schema Therapy help with?

recurring episodes of anxiety or depression
changeable emotions, emotional dysregulation
relationship struggles
self sabotage
high achievement with an underlying dissatisfaction
childhood trauma
large discrepancy between the external persona and private self

What is the process of Schema Therapy?

Schema Therapy helps identify unmet childhood needs, the emotions and feelings that have resulted from these and how you have come to cope with them over time. This will often lead to a formulation that identifies these different protective ‘coping modes’. The process of therapy is about learning to self observe, mindfully and non judgementally, which creates understanding and helps negotiate internally in order to find better ways of coping. Schema Therapy aims to help you identify your core unmet needs and to meet these as a matter of priority in a way that helps you feel valued and cared for. The aim is to help you feel emotionally safe enough to express emotional and material needs in adaptive ways for the long term. 

Each persons’ formulation is unique but they do all follow the same structure, in that at the heart of people’s suffering is an active attempt to protect oneself from feeling negative emotions such as fear, shame, anger and confusion recurring from past experiences. In particular, where childhood adverse experiences have resulted in strong negative emotions that were overwhelming to the child, then body, mind and brain have many mechanisms to help keep those feelings and memories away from consciousness. While these ways of coping may work in the short term, they do unintentionally keep people feeling vulnerable and prevent long term happiness.

What is the outcome of therapy?

The outcome of therapy is to help the body and brain regulate emotions differently, for the mind to come to terms with difficult memories and to find new strategies for dealing with daily challenges and build healthy, supportive relationships. Ultimately it is the opportunity to learn to reliably meet your emotional needs from a  place of healthy self connection and to let go of those external circumstances or internal barriers that prevent this.