Schema Therapy

Schema Therapy was developed by Jeffrey Young, to treat individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder, but can also be used with other presentations caused by difficult childhood experiences. Schemas can be described as our belief systems or 'lifetraps'. The theory on which Schema Therapy is based has four main concepts:

  • Early Maladaptive Schemas

  • Schema Domains

  • Coping Styles

  • Schema Modes

Early Maladaptive Schemas are our core patterns or behaviours that we tend to repeatedly use throughout our lives.

Schema Domains relate to the emotional needs of a child. If these needs were not met during our childhoods, unhealthy schemas develop, which then result in unhealthy patterns of behaviour.

Coping Styles are the way we adapt to schemas and early life experiences. These are often unhealthy and tend to maintain or worsen the problems.

Modes are emotional states that we all use from time to time. They can sometimes lie dormant for a long time, being activated by certain triggers. Whilst we can be in a dominant state or mode for some time, we can flip over into other modes.

Schema Therapy is based upon CBT, but it is focused much more on early childhood experiences which have caused lifelong difficulties. Assessment includes the use of questionnaires to identify the individual's schemas, coping styles and preferred modes, enabling the client to understand and develop an abilty to change their unhelpful thinking styles and patterns of behaviour.

Transactional Analysis

Transactional analysis is also a talking therapy and sessions are designed to explore an individual's personality and how this has been shaped by experience - particularly those stemming from childhood. This is achieved through skilful questioning and the utilisation of various models, techniques and tools. Sessions can be carried out in the form of one-on-one counselling, or with families, couples or groups. 


The therapist works collaboratively with the individual to identify what has gone wrong in their communication and provide opportunities for them to change repetitive patterns that limit their potential. TA therapists recognise that we all have the potential to live the life we want, rather than the life we are programmed to live. Sometimes however this potential is hindered by repetitive patterns or 'unconscious scripts' that stem from childhood decisions and teachings.