Are you and your spouse having problems in your relationship? If you answered, “yes” then Schema Therapy could be a great form of therapy to help the both of you. To help understand what Schema Therapy is and how married couples can benefit from Schema Therapy, I have interviewed therapist Merrie Pearl.
Tell me a little bit about yourself:
“I have a Masters degree in Social Work from New York University and a Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education. I have been working with Dr. Jeffrey Young, founder of Schema Therapy since 1999. I am a certified Advanced Schema Therapist. I am on the International Schema Therapy Supervisors board and am the director of the Schema Therapy Center of New Orleans.”
What is Schema Therapy?
“Schema Therapy is an integrative approach based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that combines several different approaches: Gestalt, Experiential, and Object Relations therapies. Schema Therapy focuses on maladaptive, self-defeating beliefs and patterns. A schema is comprised of memories, emotions, thoughts, physical sensations, and feelings. Schemas usually develop early in life when core childhood emotional needs are unmet by a parent(s) or guardian(s). Once these schemas are formed a person lives their life according to the belief the schema dictates – i.e., ‘no one will ever be able to meet my emotional needs,’ ‘people will inevitably abandon me,’ ‘If I am vulnerable I will get hurt.’ There are 18 different schemas that correspond with the unmet needs. A person may cope with a schema in three different ways. Overcompensation: Doing the opposite of the schema. Avoidance: Avoiding the emotions one feels or situations that trigger the schema. Surrender: The person puts themselves in situations that maintain the belief of the schema. Schema Therapy helps a client to identify and challenge their core schemas and ultimately make cognitive, emotional and behavioral changes to live a healthy and fulfilled life.”
What types of issues can Schema Therapy help couples with?
“Schema Therapy can help a distressed couple define the nature of their problems by identifying their core maladaptive schemas. The couple learns how they are triggering their partner’s schemas and how their own schemas color their perception of the conflict at hand. When a dispute arises, couples are taught to state the words “schema clash” and then briefly separate. During that time, they can utilize tools they have learned in their therapy sessions, such as a Schema Flashcard, to help combat the offending schema(s). Once the couple revisits the conversation they are more apt to hear their partner versus remaining in a common stance of attacking and defending. Schema Therapy can help couples to decode the conflict and address the actual issue.
What are the benefits of schema therapy for married couples?
“The benefits of Schema Therapy for couples are it teaches the couple how to make lasting change in the relationship dynamic. Both partners learn about each others schema triggers and are able to become the healing force rather than the activator. The couple has a blueprint that helps to identify any pitfalls that could potentially take them off course. Couples are able to utilize adaptive behavior to deescalate conflict.”
Where can someone find out more information about Schema Therapy?
“They can find more information about it on Schematherapy-nola.com or schematherapy.com.”
Thank you Merrie for doing the interview on Schema Therapy for married couples. For more information on Merrie Pearl or her work you can check out her website on http://www.schematherapy-nola.com/
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