Borderline Personality Disorder Schema Therapy

Meeting The Unmet Need

What is Schema Therapy?

The goal of schema therapy is to work towards a way to meet the need in the relationship. If in the therapy the person starts to feel sad or alone, we try to help them feel that we are actually there to support them as long as they need.

But there are a whole range of techniques. A big experiential technique is imagery rescripting. For example, a client talks about an event in the past week where they felt scared and are now feeling scared in the room with us. If they are willing, we might ask them to close their eyes and think of a similar time when they were growing up and felt a similar sort of experience. Then, we come into that event and meet their need by providing what they should have gotten growing up.

We are trying to shift to the idea that we, the therapist, are not that person that created the sense of shame they are experiencing. We do this by validating their emotions . Essentially, we are trying to establish that we are not that person , we are a completely different person, and this is not a relationship in which they need to feel scared because we are in the here and now.

A need can also be anger movement towards a goal. And goals can be needs, such as the need to protect themselves if they have chronic abusive schemas. Having the ability to express anger in a congruent fashion and look at it and not be shamed in the midst of it allows for them to have boundaries in other areas of their life.

The Punitive Parent Mode

The Punitive Parent mode is the internal aspect of a person that reflects the criticism and harsh words of parents or other authority figures from her past. This mode steps in as the inner critic, either to punish her for reacting out of other modes, or to condemn others for not meeting her needs. The Punitive Parent is a continuation of inner abuse that may have occurred in the individuals early life, through the form of rejection, abandonment, devaluation, invalidation and criticism.

Mistrust/abuse Schema In Bpd

When considering borderline personality disorder, mistrust/abuse is certainly a very common schema for people with this disorder to present with. People with trauma backgrounds also present with this schema. In particular, people who have had physical, emotional, and sexual abuse often present with this schema, in addition to other schemas.

Its not only that the person feels scared, which is the affect attached to mistrust/abuse schema, but they are also likely to feel that people do not care about them and to experience a sense of being alone/sad . Particularly, people presenting with BPD present with quite a wide range of schemas. Certainly, mistrust/abuse is a really common one for people with that presentation and diagnosis.

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Finding A Therapist For Borderline Personality Disorder

When youre learning how to deal with borderline personality disorder, finding a good therapist to treat BPD is essential. Its the only way to ensure you work towards having the best quality of life possible. Its also important to find someone you trust and who youre comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings with. To find a therapist, ask your primary care physician for a recommendation.

You can also ask trusted friends and colleagues for a referral. Searching online via BPD support groups and online resources like the National Alliance on Mental Illness is yet another option. However you go about finding a therapist, starting therapy with someone experienced in treating BPD is the first step. With the right support and therapy, you can live a full, productive life with minimal, if any, symptoms related to borderline personality disorder.

Talkspaces online therapy platform is a game-changer when it comes to treating mental health conditions like BPD. Online therapy means you can get the help you need, without the headache and hassle of getting to and from appointments. No traffic, no parking, no time needed for a commute, just log on and get critical care and guidance from a trusted and skilled therapist. You can manage BPD. Talkspace can show you how.

Physical Sensation In Schemas

Domains and Schema of Childhood experience and resulting maladaptive ...

In emotional deprivation schema the common affect is sadness, so it might be a sense of being let down or could be a sense of emptiness. With mistrust/abuse, the main affect is fear. This presents as anxiety, such as your heart beating faster a sense of agitation, pins and needles, pressure on your chest. It could be a whole range depending on the person.

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How To Find A Schema Therapist

Finding a qualified professional who has experience with schema therapy can be a challenge, but there are resources that can help. You might start by looking for therapists in your area who specialize in cognitive-behavioral therapy . Because schema therapy uses many of the same techniques as CBT, these therapists may also have experience with both approaches.

The International Society of Schema Therapy also provides a directory of therapists, or you can utilize the American Psychological Association’s therapist finder to look for providers in your area.

What Is The Difference Between Maladaptive Schema And Transference

The schema model begins with the idea that there is chronic deprivation of needs during childhood and that this leads to the formation of early maladaptive schemas. Transference is primarily associated with past relationships being projected onto current relationships.

In a lot of ways they are similar, but one difference is that we assume that schemas are not necessarily just triggered by other people. They can be triggered by internal stimuli or by things that are happening in the world triggers are not only related to interactions with others. We see schemas as having four elements: cognitive , emotional, physical sensation, and memory. In therapy, we try to get the schema brought to the surface so we can go in and meet the need.

For example, if we have a client with a quite distrusting schema from abuse, they are likely going to expect other people in their lives, as well as the therapists, to be a threat to them.

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What Therapy Type Is Best For Bpd

What works well for one person may not be effective for another. A good therapist can help you find the treatment plan that works for you and your symptoms.

There is no best type of treatment for borderline personality disorder, or any disorder, as its based on whats best for the individual. Its important for people to be aware of their own feelings on the effectiveness of a particular treatment. Advocating for oneself is important in finding the right treatment.

Schema Modes And Therapy In Borderline Personality Disorder


For me, the most helpful framework in understanding borderline personality disorder comes out of schema therapy, a borderline personality disorder treatment, which includes a concept known as schema modes. The easiest way to understand schema modes is to think of them as personalities. Different personalities take over to protect the borderline when she is hurt or threatened in some way. Schema modes in borderline personality disorder are a form of maladaptive coping that the person learned in response to childhood trauma, and schema therapy is designed to address these modes.

In this way, BPD is similar to dissociative identity disorder . The difference between DID and BPD is the extent of the dissociation. People with DID completely dissociate and don’t remember becoming that other personality. People with BPD do remember these experiences but still remain controlled by the mode. Unless they’ve had exposure to schema therapy, borderlines–and the people close to them–are not generally able to understand or characterize these schema modes as dissociation. They simply feel themselves–or witness the person in question–becoming very emotional and reactive. Periods of dissociation, or shifting into these personalities or modes, are how people with borderline personality disorder have learned to survive.

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The Healthy Adult Mode

We all have within us a capacity for the Healthy Adult, even many teenagers and some children. The Healthy Adult nurtures, validates and protects the vulnerable inner child, sets boundaries for the Angry/Impulsive Child, helps the Detached Protector put her guard down, and encourages the Punitive Parent to quiet the criticism and rejecting voice. The Healthy Adult voice is responsible and loving while maintaining healthy boundaries.

A therapist works with a BPD individual through Schema Therapy by first helping her to identify these modes and then to build a relationship of trust so that ultimately the therapist can help to reparent the Abandoned/Abused child with a bond of nurturing, reassurance and trust. The therapist works to meet the previously unmet emotional needs of the individual so that she can begin to feel stronger, and ultimately, can begin to meet these inner needs herself. The goal is to get the BPD patient operating out of Healthy Adult most of the time, and when that happens, the symptoms of BPD are quieted or changed.

Schema Therapy is proving to be quite effective in this regard and as stated, the drop out rate for this therapy is quite low. Check out more about Schema Therapy for yourself or your loved ones.

Experiences Of Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder With Imagery Rescripting In The Context Of Schema Therapya Qualitative Study

  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
  • 2Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Imagery Rescripting is a therapeutic technique that is used in a wide spectrum of therapeutic methods for various mental disorders. As an important component of Schema Therapy , IR is frequently used in the treatment of patients with borderline personality disorder . However, little is known about how IR is experienced by individuals with BPD. The aim of this study was to explore BPD patients’ experiences with receiving IR. Qualitative data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 21 individuals with a primary diagnosis of BPD who received IR within their ST treatment. Interview data were analyzed following the procedures of qualitative content analysis. Participants reported various effects of IR including initial high emotionality and exhaustion. Long-term effects included a better understanding of schemas and an improvement regarding emotion regulation and interpersonal relationships. Participants reported factors hindering the successful implementation of IR, such as external noise, stress, and a fast pace during IR. Facilitating factors included adequate time for debriefing, a transparent structure, and preparation of IR as well as the therapist providing safety. Implications of the findings for optimizing IR in clinical practice are discussed.

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What Is Schema Therapy

Schema therapy is a model of psychotherapy that was originally designed for chronic mental health problems. It comes from the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy tradition, but also integrates different arms of psychotherapy, such as elements from the Gestalt tradition, and also aspects of object relations theory. The founder, Jeffrey Young, was a CBT therapist who became frustrated in his work with people with personality disorders. He found that CBT did not have the outcomes that he wanted, so he integrated the other two arms. There are the ideas of schemas and modes, but really what it comes down to is that we, as the therapists, we are meeting the unmet needs of the client. Schema therapists find ways in the context of the therapist-patient relationship to give the person what they did not get growing up. For example, they may have a need for a sense of acceptance or to feel that they are good enough just the way they are, or a sense of security where they can safely express their needs. The goal is to work towards meeting those needs for the client, and, over time, to teach the client to continue to meet their own needs so they do not need us anymore.

Schemas Of People With Bpd

DBT and Schema Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder ...

According to Jeffrey Young, the core schemas experienced by the person with borderline issues include abandonment, abuse, emotional deprivation, defectiveness, and subjugation. These are defined below :

  • Abandonment: Involves the sense that significant others will not be able to continue providing emotional support, connection, strength, or protection.
  • Abuse: The expectations that others will hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, or take advantage.
  • Emotional Deprivation: The expectation that ones desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others.
  • Defectiveness: The feeling that one is defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid to such a degree that one is unlovable to significant others.
  • Subjugation: Excessive surrendering to others because one feels coerced for instance, submitting in order to avoid anger, retaliation, or abandonment.

Note: People with BPD are often misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder. The key marker for BPD is a deep and pervasive fear of abandonment. The main indicator for bipolar disorder is the symptom of manic episodes. Bipolar disorder is a commonly misdiagnosed mental illness.

Probably, the main reason people with BPD get diagnosed with bipolar disorder so often is because of their fluctuating mood swings. One thing to note that is particular about the mood swings of the person with BPD is that they happen rapidly, multiple times per day.

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What Are The Limitations Of Schema Therapy

Schema therapy shows promise as a treatment for many mental health concerns, including eating disorders and depression.

Most of the existing research has looked at the role of schema therapy in treating borderline personality disorder and other personality disorders.

So far, the results are promising. For example, a 2014 controlled trial concluded that schema therapy may be more effective for treating personality disorders.

But schema therapy has only been around since the 1980s. This is a fairly short amount of time in the world of psychology. As a result, there arent many quality, long-term studies about its effects.

While the existing research is promising, most experts agree that theres a need for further trials and research.

Compared to other types of therapy, schema therapy can also be a long-term commitment. You may need to undergo schema therapy for years. If you dont have insurance, this can also become quite expensive.

B Perceptions Of St As Compared To Previous Therapies

All patients compared and contrasted ST to their prior experience of other therapy approaches, and have attributed differences largely to the therapy model these included the depth afforded by schema concepts and its consideration of ones unique background. Despite ST being perceived as more difficult for five patients, a majority of them preferred ST and 22 of them found the ST model more effective than other therapies.

B1. Degree of focus on internal processes

B2. Extent to which ST was prescriptive vs. tailored to individual needs

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Healthy Adult Mode And Wise Mind

Healthy adult mode in schema therapy and wise mind in DBT are similar concepts. They both involve self-compassion, intuitive thinking, living mindfully, and the balanced combination of the rational mind and emotional mind.

We see this mode as underdeveloped in people with more long-term characterological problems, like BPD, for example, but also things like chronic depression. Because the adult part of them is underdeveloped, the idea in schema therapy is to model that healthy adult for them and meet their needs. Wise mind and healthy adult mode are very similar concepts in the terms of the capacity to both be looking into the world and using evidence, but also being mindful that we are just the way that we are and we feel the way that we feel, and they are both very valid. Its not just about trying to convince them that the way they feel is wrong and that we should be a different way, its about accepting that we all have a vulnerable part of us. This vulnerable child part has been hurt and feels these feelings for a reason. As healthy adults we need to continue to nurture this vulnerable part of us. To do this we need to recognise that we must form relationships and lifestyles that allow us to continue to have our emotional needs met.

Schema Modes Common To Bpd Sufferers

“Splitting” In Borderline Personality Disorder: What You Should Know

Schema modes represent aspects of the self. We all have many different internal aspects. Its important to understand that virtually everyone, whether they suffer from a personality disorder or not, can operate from within these schema modes at different times. Many marriage and family therapists use the schema modes to help couples understand themselves and one another, so when you read them, try not to see something wrong with yourself because you have BPD. Again, everyone operates within these different modes at varying times even so called normal or healthy adults. Its not just you! The important thing to focus on is nurturing the parts of yourself, or modes, that need nurturing, and standing up to parts of yourself, or modes, that need to be called out or quieted.

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How To Treat Borderline Personality Disorder: A Schema Therapy Approach

Research has been conducted on the effectiveness of schema therapy for the treatment of borderline personality disorder results indicate that this form of treatment is a very effective intervention for people struggling with the disorder. .

A schema is a deep seated, felt and internalized belief about the self in relation to others. You know you are experiencing a maladaptive schema when you feel triggered to the point that your reaction is not in line with the preceding event.

All people have schemas. The purpose of this article series is to address and help people heal the maladaptive ones maladaptive because they no longer serve the host, at least in terms of healthy interpersonal relating.

Early maladaptive schemas are the memories, emotions, bodily sensations, and cognitions associated with the destructive aspects of the individuals childhood experiences, organized into patterns that repeat throughout life.

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