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Schema Therapy

What is Schema Therapy?

by Rebecca Hill

Schema Therapy helps you to have better order over your mental processes. 

Imagine your mind is like one, gigantic filing cabinet. If I asked you to pull forward particular files you’d be able to, in a flash. 

  • Can you pull up your blue file?
    Within moments, it’s likely you’ll have information or images connected to blue things at the forefront of your mind. You might even have other connected files at the ready; perhaps your green folder has opened or files containing other colours. 
  • Can you pull up your beach file?
    Within moments again, you might have an image of the seaside, a holiday or sand for example. You might also have pulled out associated files; ‘Brighton’, ‘Bournemouth’ or the ‘Bahamas’.

Each of these files is known as a schema, and you have schema’s for everything. 

The problems occur however, when we file things in the wrong schema. 

Let’s take your danger file, it might include:
Wild animals, strangers approaching in the dark, electricity pylons, broken glass etc. These things all belong in that file.
If you’ve also tucked supermarkets in that folder, shopping can feel really really scary, fear inducing and problematic.

  • Maybe you’ve put belittling in the ‘self file’.
  • Maybe you’ve put withholding in the ‘safety file’.
  • Maybe you’ve put anger in the ‘fairness file’. 

Once we’ve established what we’ve stored where, we can check to see if everything is in it’s rightful place. Often we find that a few items are misfiled and therefore causing us some challenges. Examples include:

  • We might be in the middle of shopping and feel a surge of panic because of the danger link.
  • We might realise that our self-esteem is low because we are constantly putting ourselves down. 
  • We might find ourselves arguing with our partner because we don’t know how to open up and share our feelings. 
  • We might notice ourselves feeling alienated from others because our angry outbursts are intimidating other people, despite feeling totally justified to ourselves. 

By evaluating the things we’ve filed together, we can assess the way we are processing information, make sense of our reactions and seek to do some re-filing. 

Schema therapy helps to support you with the process of evaluating your existing files, and appropriately refiling any misfiled information. It can also help you to delete any unwanted files. 

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