A typical course of Schema Therapy may require between 40 and 80 sessions of 1 hour duration. This varies according to individual needs and differences. Therapy sessions are usually provided on a weekly basis.
Therapy begins with a structured assessment and initial schema conceptualisation. This involves detailed analysis of the difficulties that have brought you to seek therapy, including structured assessments of symptoms, personality traits, schemas and schema modes. A written understanding (conceptualisation) of your difficulties is developed. This process typically takes 3 – 4 sessions.
Once assessments are complete, treatment typically involves 3 ‘phases’:
- First the therapy focuses on helping you learn about the schema model and understand yourself and your reactions. The aim is to develop your awareness and insight regarding your reactions using the Schema Model. With awareness comes the first opportunity for you to chose to make changes.
- Next we aim to ‘go deeper’ by targeting often painful emotions and working to alter associated inner dialogues. In this change phase we focus on reducing your sensitivity to certain emotional cues and changing problematic attitudes and feelings that relate to the past. Major techniques for this include the use of chairwork dialogues and imagery rescripting.
- Finally therapy focuses on helping you implement changes in your life. At this stage we aim to break any problem patterns behaviour that may remain, replacing them with healthier alternatives. There is continued focus on building a healthy sense of self, making good choices and developing balanced relationships.
Following therapy it is usual to have less frequent ‘booster’ sessions to support and coach you in implementing what you have learned in therapy.
If you’d like to read more about treatment model used in Schema Therapy, Wikipedia gives a good overview.