What is schema therapy for couples?
A schema – otherwise known as a “life trap” – is a blueprint through which we see the world, ourselves and other people. It usually forms in response to our early experiences, especially if our emotional needs were not met growing up.
Our schemas can play a significant role in our relationships, both in terms of how we connect with others and even the types of people we find ourselves drawn to. This is sometimes referred to as “schema chemistry”.
Schema therapy for couples focuses on identifying the schemas of each partner and how they interact in the relationship. The aim is to help partners better understand each other and break free of unhealthy relationship patterns ultimately, bringing harmony to the relationship.
What happens in schema couples therapy?
Following your initial assessment, the first part of your therapy will be focused on identifying which schemas are at play in your relationship. We will also assess the particular triggers that tend to create difficulties and leave you feeling “stuck”.
But it’s not just schemas that we’ll be looking at – we’ll also be looking at how you both cope with your schemas. Whether you cope with difficulties by shutting down, flaring up or criticising and blaming, these are often found to be old coping styles from the past. And while they may have been beneficial in helping you maintain some degree of connection in more dysfunctional environments, they can often end up blocking it later on.
In schema therapy, the focus is on finding healthier ways of asking for your needs to be met so both partners feel seen, heard and valued in the relationship. This begins to happen naturally as each of you start to get a better understanding of where the other is coming from and what is at the root of problematic interactions.