Schema Therapy for Couples

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.

Frequently asked questions

You are most likely to be offered schema therapy for couples if we make the judgement that you and your partner are repeating relational patterns that we believe are rooted in the past. Schema therapy will help you conceptualise the nature of these patterns and understand how you and your partner might be taking on different roles at different times leaving you feeling stuck.
We will recommend schema therapy if we believe you would benefit from a more active approach to therapy. Schema therapy will help you gain insight into the different patterns at play in your relationship so that you can relate to each other in more genuine and vulnerable ways.
Schema therapy for couples will usually last at least 6 months as this model of therapy is helping you change very pervasive patterns and deal with issues at a deeper level.

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Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced consultant psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector.

Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.

Dr Touroni has held a variety of clinical and managerial positions including as Head of Service in the NHS. Further she has held academic positions for the University of Surrey and the Institute of Mental Health lecturing on specialist postgraduate Masters and Doctorate programmes.

She is trained in several specialist therapeutic approaches such as schema therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). As well as holding a variety of NHS positions, Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of a private practice in Central London that has been a provider of psychological therapy for all common emotional difficulties including personality disorder since 2002. She is the founder and one of two directors of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.