Schemas and psychological issues

Schemas and psychological issues

Schemas and psychological issues

Role of Core beliefs or Schemas in Cognitive therapy

Schemas are patterns of thought or behaviour that determine attention and absorption of new knowledge. Schemas basically fall into two major types, (i) core beliefs and (ii) conditional beliefs. In the core belief, the individual concludes that he or she is no good; whereas in the conditional belief, their thinking is, if others get close they would find that he or she is no good.

A person, who has experienced a lot of failures in life, tends to remember only the failure experiences though he may have success experiences too and have schemas of his own defects and errors rather than strengths and gains.

Schemas and psychological issues: CBT

Cognitive therapy attempts to ease out these negative beliefs and modify them and bring about a shift in such maladaptive beliefs. This is done by activating the “I am ok schema “in place of “I am bad Schema”. Therapy operates on three aspects; self, others and the world. Every situation answered with respect to these three aspects would help identify the schemas of the individual.

Once the core belief or maladaptive schema is identified, the person should be made to express it in his or her own language. An alternate positive schema developed after interventions and discussions should also be labelled in the person’s own words. The classic example being, a person has a schema “I am unlovable”. After deeper discussions, the person modifies the schema and could come out with a label as “I am Lovable” or “I am lovable to some people”.

Continuum methods: There are two methods bidirectional and unidirectional. While in bidirectional it is on a scale from 100% unlovable to 100% lovable, unidirectional is from 0% to 100% lovable and excludes maladaptive schema totally. A clear analysis and deep discussion makes the person understand make the shift from 0% unlovable to some higher% lovable.

‘A’ moves from 0 to 15% in the unidirectional scale is better than ‘A’ moving from 100% unlovable to 70% unlovable on bidirectional.  This is because being 15% lovable is better than being 70% unlovable. Interventions and discussions increase the lovability level gradually.

Continuum graph helps: A person holding a belief ‘Perfection is the measure of worth” can be made to understand that imperfect experiences could have worth and perfection is not always worthwhile, by examples of imperfect expressions of a child and failure of a perfectly made project.

Positive Data log:  Through a series of guiding questions, the client understands the biases in information processing leading to his own prejudiced beliefs. With a new schema, a daily log of observations consistent with the schema is to be maintained with the help of therapist. This helps the client to find and discover multi data evidence contrary to his or her negative beliefs.

Psycho drama: The client is asked to re enact a childhood scene in which the schema was activated, leading to an intense therapy session in which he is asked to create a new role and re experience the original event.

While positive data log and continuum work would be the primary methods in constructing new schemas, psychodrama helps in providing useful data.

Schemas and psychological issues: Concluding thoughts

Schemas play an important role and developing new schemas and deleting the maladaptive ones help in treating personality disorders, chronic depression and anxiety disorders.

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