Is Schema Therapy Effective?

Research shows that Schema Therapy is significantly more effective than traditional treatments for a broad range of mental health problems, contributing to real recovery, not just symptom reduction. The value of the approach is demonstrated particularly by its potency in helping with enduring conditions that were previously thought of as either difficult to treat or even ‘untreatable’.

Schema Therapy can be particularly helpful for people with the following problems:

  • Recurring anxiety and / or depression
  • Relationship problems and attachment difficulties
  • Impulse control problems, addictions
  • Emotional instability (‘borderline’ personality)
  • Anger issues
  • Self criticism and low self esteem
  • Identity problems
  • Self harm
  • Eating disorder
  • Problematic personality traits

Below are links to gold-standard research evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of Schema Therapy and Group Schema Therapy for a range of conditions.

Studies of individual Schema Therapy for Emotionally unstable / ‘borderline’ personality:

Outpatient psychotherapy for Borderline Personality Disorder: a randomized controlled trial of schema-focused therapy versus transference focused psychotherapy. Archives of General Psychiatry (2006) 63, 649-658.

Implementation of outpatient schema therapy for borderline personality disorder with versus without crisis support by the therapist outside office hours: A randomized trial.  Behaviour Research and Therapy (2009), 47, 961–973

Individual Schema Therapy for other problematic personality traits (i.e. non-borderline):

Results of a Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial of the Clinical Effectiveness of Schema Therapy for Personality Disorders.  Am J Psychiatry (2014), 171:305322

Interestingly, it seems that Group Schema Therapy may offer an even more potent treatment when combined with the individual therapy:

A schema-focused approach to group psychotherapy for outpatients with borderline personality disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry (2009), 40, 317-328.

Combined Group and Individual Schema Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder: a Pilot Study. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry (2014), 45, 242-251.

Given the large treatment effect sizes of Group Schema Therapy in the above studies, we are currently undertaking a large multi-national research study to establish whether such results can be replicated on a large scale:

Design of an international multi-centre RCT on group schema therapy for borderline personality disorder. BMC Psychiatry (2014), 14:319.

Recent Pilot Studies have also demonstrated positive effects of Schema Therapies for Chronic Depression, Eating Disorders, Young People and Older Adults:

Treatment of Chronic depression Using Schema Therapy. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice (2013), 20, 166-180

Group schema therapy for eating disorders: a pilot study. Front. Psychol.(2014) 1:182.

Short-term group schema cognitive-behavioral therapy for young adults with personality disorders and personality disorder features: associations with changes in symptomatic distress, schemas, schema modes and coping styles. Behav. Res. Ther (2013). 51, 487–492.

Effects of schema group therapy in older outpatients: a proof of concept study. Int. Psychogeriatr. (2014) 26, 1709–1717.

If you would like to consider whether Schema Therapy could be a good choice for you, please read here.