Have you heard of group schema therapy? It’s a powerful and effective form of therapy that can help people break long-standing emotional and behavioral patterns holding them back for years.
What is group therapy based on schemas?
Schema group therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on finding and changing the negative patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting linked to certain schemas. Formed in childhood and adolescence, schemas are deeply ingrained patterns of thought and behavior. They can have a significant effect on our relationships, our work, and our mental health as a whole.
In the 1990s, Dr. Jeffrey Young, a New York-based psychologist, created schema therapy to address chronic issues that regular cognitive behavioral therapy was not adequately addressing. Since then, it has been researched and used extensively in group therapy settings. In schema group therapy, members work together to figure out and change their schemas. The therapist and the other group members give them support and feedback.
How does group therapy with schemas work?
Schema group therapy usually consists of weekly sessions lasting 75 to 90 minutes. During these sessions, people work together to determine their schemas and how they cause them to think and act in unhealthy and sabotaging ways.
As a schema therapist, I lead the group through various exercises and techniques to help members uncover and question their schemas. For example, members might use guided imagery exercises, role-playing, or other interactive exercises to help them become more aware of their schemas and how they affect their actions.
In schema group therapy, members also get help and feedback from the other group members. This can be very helpful because it shows them they are not the only ones having problems and gives them a safe, supportive place to explore their feelings and behaviors.
What’s good about schema group therapy?
Schema group therapy can benefit members with anxiety, depression, personality disorders, and other mental health issues. Schema group therapy can help in several ways, including:
It helps people figure out how they act in certain situations
Schema group therapy helps members understand the behavior patterns holding them back, which is one of the main benefits of the group. By figuring out their schemas and the negative ways of thinking and acting that go with them, participants can start to make changes in their lives that matter.
For example, a member who has trouble with being left alone may have schemas that tell them they are not good enough to be loved (defectiveness) and that people will always leave them (abandonment). This can make them act in ways that drive people away or hurt their relationships. By figuring out this schema and the behavior patterns accompanying it, they can start to question these beliefs and make better decisions about their relationships.
It provides a safe and helpful place to live
Schema group therapy is also helpful because it gives members a safe and supportive place to discuss their feelings and actions. Members in the group are encouraged to talk about their experiences and feelings, and both the therapist and the other members offer support and feedback.
This can be very helpful for people who are struggling and may feel alone or isolated. Talking about their problems with other members going through the same things can give members a sense of validation and comfort. It can also help members feel more connected and supported.
It makes people more self-aware and mindful
Schema group therapy can also help members become more self-aware and aware of the present moment. By becoming more aware of their thoughts and emotions, members can start to make more conscious choices about how they act.
For example, a member struggling with a schema related to perfectionism may become more aware of their tendency to criticize themselves harshly and set impossible standards. Through schema group therapy, they may learn to recognize these thoughts and feelings and fight them with more balanced and caring thoughts.
Members can also become more present and aware of their thoughts and feelings in the moment, which can help them be more mindful. They might learn to watch their thoughts and feelings without judging them, which can help them feel less anxious and stressed and become more self-aware.
It can cause long-lasting changes
One of the best things about schema group therapy is that it can lead to lasting changes. Members can improve their mental health and overall well-being by finding and changing deeply ingrained patterns of thought and behavior.
Schema therapy focuses on the causes of mental health issues instead of only treating the symptoms. By addressing underlying schemas, members can make changes in their lives that are more meaningful and last longer.
It can make people get along better
Lastly, schema group therapy can help make relationships better. Members can learn to communicate better and build stronger, more fulfilling relationships by noticing and questioning negative thinking patterns and acting.
For example, a member who has trouble with a schema related to mistrust may learn to recognize that they tend to be suspicious and guarded in their relationships. Through group therapy, they may learn to trust their partner or loved ones more and talk to them more openly and honestly.
Overall, schema group therapy can be a compelling and helpful way to help members with various mental health problems. Members can improve their mental health and overall well-being by recognizing and challenging negative patterns of thinking and acting.
If you’re having trouble with loneliness, anxiety, depression, or relationship problems, consider schema group therapy as a possible treatment.
Travis has been running groups in schema therapy since 1994. He is a Certified Group Psychotherapist from the American Group Psychotherapy Association and an Advanced Certified Schema Therapist, Supervisor and Trainer for Individuals and Couples since 2008. Travis was awarded with an Honorary Lifetime Membership from the International Society of Schema Therapy in 2020 for his dedication to advancing schema therapy worldwide.
Current schema group therapy openings are available in an online co-ed group Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:00.
Call us at 212-725-7774 or complete the contact form to set up a one-time individual appointment to discuss what themes you want to address and see if group schema therapy is a good choice.