A bold claim indeed from Jeffrey Young & Janet Klosko, but one that I am finding to be actually quite true.

Please bear in mind this post is from my perspective as a service user and my experiences with schema therapy and that it may not be right for you but I would definitely recommend that if you are unhappy with your current therapy or mental health support that you discuss with your doctor or psychologist as to what would be the best option for you. Remember your happiness is vital.

As I’ve probably already mentioned I have gone through many different therapies. Each one has given me tools to use in my life and have helped (apart from the disastrous introduction I had to mental health support in which I made the counsellor break down in tears), however, I have always ended up back where I began despite knowing I have tools to use.

The latest therapy I have been referred to is Schema Therapy. I went from not knowing what a Schema was (I’ll talk more about these later), to having three introductory assessments with a psychologist (who came highly recommended to me by my cognitive behavioural therapist who I trusted, had seen some huge improvements with and most importantly got on well with) to starting the group.

The group is going to consist of 16 two hour sessions where we will work on our individual schemas. After two weeks of the group I can already see how if I stick with this I can really “reinvent my life”.

Obviously I’ll just be talking about me so some things may not make perfect sense but it’s important for the group to be confidential.

I won’t lie the first group session was hard. My previous experience of group therapy hadn’t been the most positive so I was already apprehensive and my schemas kicked in straight away in the group. I felt unworthy, that I would be judged, that I had no business being there and helpless that I couldn’t make everyone else in the group feel better. I’m not naive enough to think that other people don’t feel the way I do. I just hate the fact they do. They don’t deserve this pain.

Thankfully as part of the therapy you examine the things that trigger you, how it makes you feel, what behaviour you follow, what you think, what schema has been activated & how you can do things differently next time. So I logged all this down. It did affect my mood for the whole week and had knock on effect making me more prone to being triggered by various events through the week. It made me incredibly scared of going for the second session but I knew I had to go.

At the beginning of the second session the group were asked how they were feeling after the first session. I remained quiet, but of course the psychologists who run the session are so experienced they knew there was something wrong so I ended up saying how I felt and was reassured straight away. I now feel much more comfortable about going next week but still know it will be hard work and very draining, especially taking its toll on my POTS.

From my reading and therapy I understand that schemas are lifetraps that we get into that can then affect us in our day to day life. They tend to be formed when we are young and then reinforced through our lives. We then end up keeping ourselves in these lifetraps as we don’t know any different.

18 schemas have now been identified. The schemas can be found at http://www.schematherapy.com/id73.htm. . Everybody has these elements to some extent but it’s only when they are triggered to such an extent that they interfere with you leading a happy life or are over sensitive to them that they cause a problem and end up causing us more pain. Young and Klosko help people identify which schema (or schemas in most cases) are the ones that people should focus on improving. I have found that I definitely have one core schema (defectiveness) and believe that the other schemas that affect me all stem from this one. I may find that this is not the case as I progress but will let you know if I discover more on my journey.

I am now a lot happier that I have a group to discuss this with as when it comes to schemas I have found it is difficult to discuss them with those closest to you. As they are formed in childhood and are influenced by those around you it is hard for their schemas not to be triggered when you discuss your own. My sister became upset when she thought it was her fault that I felt defective after reading that defectiveness can come from being negatively compared to a sibling. As I explained to her she didn’t do anything wrong in being super clever, in fact I admire her for it, it was the people doing the comparing (not my parents I hasten to add) that were in the wrong.

I’m hoping to do a weekly update on my journey through this, please forgive me if I can’t as it is a very emotional and draining thing to talk about.

Taking inspiration from talking to a friend today and from The Women’s Room discussion on self care I’m also going to try to write a post about each of the schemas. I’ve not got experience of all of them so will start with the ones I know about and from my perspective (as we each handle them differently) but please let me know if you can add anything or if I can re-blog something you’ve posted that is relevant.