Schema therapy combines elements of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), object relations and Gestalt therapy. A schema is a strongly held belief that an individual may have about themselves, the world, or others around them. Schemas are typically formed early in life, and can lead to unhelpful life-long patterns that become repeated. Schema therapy is designed to assist individuals to identify and break these patterns, and has been shown to be effective at addressing difficulties such as personality difficulties, eating challenges and chronic depression.
The four main concepts in schema therapy include, early maladaptive schemas, schema domains, coping styles and schema modes. These refer to patterns developed in childhood, the needs of a child, the ways individuals adapt to experiences and the emotional states that everyone experiences.