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Schema Therapy Can Treat Personality Disorders

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PersonalityDisorderAll of us have distinct personality traits that make us unique. However, in some people, certain thoughts and behaviours can be quite abnormal. These people react to things and situations differently than a normal person does. These people may have personality disorders, psychological disorders that may consist of rigid thoughts and behaviour. These people are inflexible and pervasive in their ways of dealing with situations. If left untreated, personality disorders can cause serious problems and impaired functioning.

Many experts think that personality disorders stem from certain patterns of experiences and behaviour within a person which often deviates from the usual culture. This inflexible attitude prevails and causes significant impairment at work, at school, or in personal relationships. Personality disorders often prevail during adulthood and usually start in the early 20s or 30s. People who have them often live normal lives except that when they are exposed to stress and social demands they act differently. Some common personality disorders include antisocial, avoidant, borderline, dependent, histrionic, multiple personality, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders.

Schema Therapy

Recent news has it that a type of cognitive therapy known as schema therapy has the ability to treat personality disorders. But what is schema therapy? First of all, schema therapy is a type of cognitive therapy that combines behavioural, experiential, psychoanalytic  and interpersonal therapies into one. It encourages a person to change his or her negative patterns which he or she has lived with for a long period of time. Schema therapy is said to be successful when all other methods fail.

This method was developed by Dr. Jeff Young who discovered the different needs of people who have long-standing behaviours and helped these people by utilizing schemas or life traps. These schemas are enduring and self-defeating patterns which have begun in early life and which have developed into negative thoughts and feelings over time. These schemas enable one to think that he is a failure, he is unpopular, he is inferior, etc. A lot of people deal with these schemas by avoidance, maintenance and compensation. The schema therapy is able to treat the person having schemas by breaking this pattern of negative thinking, negative feeling and negative behaving and by helping the person develop healthier ways of dealing with them.

Schema Therapy and Personality Disorders

Recently, there is a large-scale randomized control trial which have shown that schema therapy may be beneficial to personality disorders such as obsessive compulsive, dependent, paranoid, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders. The results of this study were published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. According to the researchers, schema therapy gave rise to a higher rate of recovery, a greater decrease in depression, greater increases in general and social functioning and a lower dropout rate to therapy. Schema therapy was also noted to be cost-effective, so that the researchers recommend it to treat a variety of personality disorders.

In the past some studies have found out that borderline personality disorders can achieve full recovery with the use of schema therapy among all other treatments. Schema therapy may only be done in 50 sessions and because of this it may be cost-effective than all other therapies. Schema therapy is now widely gaining popularity in the United States and in Europe. Schema therapy is directed to meet the core emotional needs of the patient with personality disorders.

In this particular study, schema therapy was compared with Clarification-Oriented Psychotherapy and “treatment as usual” (TAU). The researchers found out that patients who received schema therapy had significant improvement in recovery from personality disorders. The researchers aim to disseminate this information among health care professionals especially psychiatrists and psychologists so that more people with personality disorders can benefit from this type of therapy.

You can learn more on how to be psychologically healthy by reading our other articles on this site.