Does it sometimes seem like certain situations tend to repeat themselves over and over again throughout your life? Whether it is struggling with low self-esteem or being unable to form meaningful relationships, it can seem like there are “patterns” in the life circumstances you’re faced with.
Would it surprise you to hear that this isn’t all just a coincidence, but something caused by schemas?
What are schemas?
If an individual’s emotional needs have not been addressed when they were young, they may grow into detrimental routines known as schemas. Schemas are used in therapeutic contexts to refer to unhelpful thought processes that lead to harmful behaviours.
Schemas can negatively affect a person’s ideas and behaviours in adulthood, resulting in activities like avoidance, overcompensation, excessive self-sacrifice and more. Unfavourable emotions and beliefs, such as “I’m not good enough” or “My needs will never be satisfied”, may emerge as well.
Generally, an individual’s relationships and emotional well-being may suffer greatly as a result of these schemas.
Some examples of schemas include, but are not limited to:
- Social isolation
- Dependence or incompetence
- Lack of self-control or discipline
Schema therapy is a psychotherapy technique designed to help individuals overcome these persistent negative patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting, and replace them with better ones. It also aims to address the core needs that were left unmet in one’s childhood.
Some of the core emotional needs of a child include:
- A sense of security and safety
- A sense of self-identity
- The freedom to express one’s feelings, thoughts and needs
- Age-appropriate boundaries
When these needs are not met, schemas will often develop and be tough to modify. As mentioned earlier, schemas can result in harmful habits that frequently resurface in the form of dysfunctional relationships if they are not properly addressed.
Once a schema is formed, it might unintentionally guide an individual’s decisions in an attempt to shield them from emotional pain. Though this sounds like it could be helpful, the coping mechanisms that schemas produce are frequently toxic or detrimental.
Some examples of manifestations due to unresolved schemas include:
- Abusing one’s spouse and children (typically caused by being abused, left feeling unprotected or abandoned when young)
- Not being able to trust people easily (typically caused by experiencing betrayal by loved ones)
- Anger management issues (typically caused by experiences with being bullied, humiliated, accused, looked down upon, etc)
- Not being able to form healthy relationships (typically caused by rejection, betrayal, etc)
- Procrastination and/or perfectionism (this could develop from constantly being berated for not meeting expectations)
- Constantly being attracted to partners with toxic traits (the individual likely experienced being abandoned or rejected in the past, which results in insecurity and lack of confidence)
- Not being able to hold down jobs (typically caused by experiences with betrayal or rejections which leads to an individual not being able to work well with their superiors and colleagues)
- Developing eating disorders or engaging in self-harm (typically brought about if an individual has experienced vulnerability, insecurity, etc)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) (this could develop if an individual experienced constant heightened stress during their childhood and needed repetitive behaviours/thoughts to de-escalate the stress level)
Unresolved schemas can even develop into serious mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, personality disorder, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, PTSD and more.
How effective is schema therapy?
Schema therapy has been proven to be an effective technique to treat issues such as PTSD, personality disorders, anxiety, and chronic depression, where previous techniques had failed.
To address greater characterological alterations in chronic diseases, schema therapy was developed. It is a treatment strategy that integrates components of various therapeutic philosophies. What sets schema therapy apart from all the other major treatments for personality disorders is its use of limited reparenting. This entails the therapist taking additional steps to directly address the patient’s underlying emotional needs. A study has found that patients who received schema therapy showed a significant improvement in recovery from personality disorders – approximately 80% of patients who underwent schema therapy had recovered while only 50% who underwent other types of treatment recovered.
The main goal of schema therapy is to recognise and alter negative schemas. In a therapy session, a Singapore certified counsellor and psychotherapist will work with an individual to help them express their emotions and empower them to stand up for themselves when re-living past hurts. The therapist will also intervene to offer individuals a voice so they can feel secure in the knowledge that they are being protected. Schema therapy can assist individuals in starting to develop emotions of self-worth and sufficiency. This would help free them from living in the clutches of the schemas that have left them feeling trapped for years.
Schema therapy places a great emphasis on the therapist-patient connection, so it is crucial that you choose a qualified therapist who is able to help you work through your issues.
At Emotional Wellness, we provide a safe space for conversations to begin. Regardless of what has happened in your past, you can regain control of your emotions and thoughts with our therapy services and professional counselling in Singapore. Our qualified psychotherapist has more than 15 years of experience in providing professional psychotherapy services.
We utilise a range of psychotherapy techniques such as schema therapy, EMDR, bibliotherapy and more to help tackle a variety of issues. So, whether you are looking for Singapore youth counselling services or PTSD therapy, we are committed to helping you in your journey to recovery.
Do not hesitate to contact us today should you have any enquiries.