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Individual Schema Therapy

Individual Schema Therapy is the most common format of therapy sought by people who wish to address their own issues. The one-to-one format is what most people think of when they think of therapy. By working with your therapist’s undivided attention, you may focus on whatever topics you and your therapist believe are necessary to bring about change.

One-to-one therapy affords the opportunity for the strongest therapeutic relationship to form and close attunement to your emotions. Schema Therapy emphasises a warm, open and nurturing relationship with your therapist. The evidence suggests that individual Schema Therapy is crucial if the therapy is to be most effective. 

The length of time required for Schema Therapy can vary substantially, depending on individual needs and differences, and much work there is to do to address the phases above. As an approximation, a typical course of Schema Therapy may require 30 – 50 sessions of 1 hour duration for moderate difficulties. For very entrenched or severe difficulties schema therapy may be delivered longer term. Therapy sessions are usually provided on a weekly basis.

Schema Therapy is different from many other forms of psychotherapy in that the therapist explicitly adopts a “limited reparenting” approach. Since negative schemas develop due to unmet emotional needs during our childhood, Schema Therapists aim to provide “corrective” emotional experiences for the child modes of their clients. The pro-active stance of limited reparenting is especially important since the experience of this in therapy can help to directly heal the underlying schemas.

Limited reparenting is based on the idea that people can best learn how recognise and address their own emotional needs once they’ve experienced someone else doing so. Schema Therapists tend to be quite active in providing their emotional warmth, guidance, nurturance, encouragement, acceptance etc. Where needed, we are also willing to confront behaviour that needs to change, and reinforce healthy limits. Thus, the therapist provides some of the emotional nutrients that may have been lacking in your childhood.

This distinctive approach makes Schema Therapy quite different from other therapies such as psychodynamic / psychoanalytic psychotherapy, CBT or counselling. We consider that limited reparenting is one of those aspects of Schema Therapy that makes it more effective for many people whose difficulties stem back to their childhood.