Schema Therapy Treatment

Schema Therapy can be delivered in an individual or group setting. Both methods have been empirically validated with a number of diagnostic populations.

In the individual setting Schema Therapy has found to be clinically effective in forensic populations, addictions, eating disorders and other chronic psychiatric conditions. In a study by Arntz et al. Schema Therapy was found to be effective with Cluster C personality disorders as well as Histrionic, Narcissistic and Paranoid Personality Disorder.

One-on-One Treatment

Individual Schema Therapy is offered to individuals who present with long-standing mental health difficulties including character pathology. STI Australia has expertise in Individual Schema Therapy for complex clinical presentations including Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Co-Dependent Personality Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Other clinical presentations that would benefit from Individual Schema Therapy include, body image dissatisfaction, including body dysmorphia, disordered eating, substance abuse and chronic Axis I disorders.

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Group Schema Therapy

Group therapy has proven to be an effective treatment for a number of psychological problems and disorders. There are many benefits of group therapy that can not be achieved in individual therapy. Individuals who have had a history of developmental trauma, sometimes encounter problems in relationships which may include a lack of trust, increased conflict, and feelings of not belonging or a sense of isolation in their mental health difficulties. Group therapy addresses these areas in a way that individual therapy cannot. Many people who have completed group therapy, namely Group Schema Therapy, reflect on how they felt a sense of belonging, normalisation and trust in communicating their emotional needs and opinions with others that had previously been very difficult.
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Schema Therapy can assist with

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental health condition that is characterised by an inflated sense of importance and entitlement. Individuals presenting with Narcissistic Personality Disorder often have a need for excessive attention or admiration, may engage in arrogant thinking or behaviour, and have little consideration or empathy for others.

While the causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder are unknown, research has revealed that a potential factor contributing to its development is the environment or way in which the person was raised, and their specific parent-child relationships. For example, receiving excessive adoration or excessive criticism from a parent.


Schema Therapy focuses on specific personality traits (early maladaptive schemas), and the emotional and behavioural states of the individual (known as schema modes). Specifically, Schema Therapy posits that individuals with NPD refer to maladaptive coping strategies that reflect a superior and arrogant self-presentation. Schema Therapy aims to identify the specific needs that were not met for the individual in their childhood, learn how to meet them in healthy ways, and confront the unhelpful coping modes. These schema interventions allow the individual to access their Healthy Adult, fostering healthier ways to cope.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health condition that is characterised by interpersonal relationship difficulties, intense mood fluctuations, low self-esteem, impulsivity and self-harming or sabotaging behaviours.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder include fears of abandonment, unstable relationships, unclear or shifting self-image, impulsive or self-destructive behaviours, self-harm, instability in mood, chronic feelings of emptiness, explosive anger, and feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality.


Schema therapy treats Borderline Personality Disorder through addressing the maladaptive schemas associated with the emotional, cognitive and behavioural difficulties. A number of specific schema interventions are incorporated in the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, including limited re-parenting, cognitive restructuring and education, and behavioural pattern breaking. These interventions aim to achieve emotional regulation, schema mode change, and the development of autonomy.


Couples Therapy

Couples may seek therapy for a number of different reasons ranging from coping with separation or divorce, conflict resolution and management, and working through differing parenting styles. As schema therapy looks closely at lifelong patterns of behaviour (maladaptive schemas), it is an effective modality of therapy that helps couples understand how they interact and connect with another – ultimately enhancing communication on expressing their needs in healthy methods.

Substance Use

Substance Use Disorder refers to the uncontrolled use of substances, despite their harmful consequences. Substances include, but are not limited to, alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, or medications. A number of factors can contribute to the development of Substance Use Disorders, including but not limited to: genetic vulnerabilities, peer pressure, emotional distress, and environmental stressors. Substance Use Disorder is also highly comorbid with other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Schema Therapy examines the individual’s early maladaptive schemas, and aims to understand how they may create vulnerabilities for substance use. Schema Therapy also helps the individual identify and challenge unhelpful coping modes that perpetuate substance use.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders relate to disturbances to an individual’s thoughts, behaviours and attitudes towards food and eating. In working with Eating disorders, Schema Therapy focuses on the schema modes that perpetuate disordered eating disorders, with a specific focus on challenging the rigidly held beliefs about food, eating, body image and the self. Eating Disorders have typical ways of coping that perpetuate these difficulties.

Developmental Trauma

Developmental Trauma relates to the impacts of multiple traumatic experiences within childhood. Most often, children do not meet diagnostic criteria for other disorders that specify the impact of multiple traumas, such as Post-Traumatic Disorder. The term Developmental Trauma Disorder was then coined, to address these gaps and aim to understand the distress of early chronic trauma.

When children are in environments that do not foster safety, predictability, secure attachment and love, many of their needs become neglected, ignored, or attended to in ways that are unhealthy – resulting in the development of maladaptive schemas and modes. Schema Therapy provides specific emotion-orientated and experiential techniques that aim to challenge maladaptive schemas and modes, increase healthy coping, and foster a better understanding of their needs and how to meet them.