23rd January 2024 Newsletter
Introducing the Psychology Tools Schema series, designed to make schema therapy more accessible for clients and helping you work more effectively with early maladaptive schemas (EMS). It’s available to all members with active subscriptions.
Our research roundup highlights a systematic review and meta-analysis exploring the relationship between EMS, emotion regulation difficulties, and alexithymia (emotional blindness). We also look at an RCT using imagery rescripting to treat emotion dysregulation in those with borderline personality disorder.
What’s covered in the Schema series?
Schema therapy posits that psychological difficulties stem from EMS and an individual’s responses to them. It integrates various psychological approaches into a unifying conceptual model that can be used to treat complex, long-standing difficulties.
Schema concepts can sometimes be challenging for clients to grasp. This comprehensive series breaks down the foundational ideas of schema therapy in an approachable, straightforward way. With illustrations, client-friendly explanations and problem-specific examples, the handouts offer accessible guidance for working with schema therapy in session. It’s also perfect as a learning tool for anyone wanting to become more familiar with this approach.
What’s being released today?
We’ve made two resources available today which cover the core foundational ideas of Schema therapy. At a later date, we’ll be releasing problem-specific handouts addressing the most common EMS, such as Emotional Deprivation, Failure to Achieve and Enmeshment.
What Are Schemas?
The first handout in the series gives clients an introduction to schemas, how they work, where they come from, and what might be keeping them going.
Unmet Emotional Needs
This handout explains the idea of core emotional needs, the possible consequences of unmet needs, and how you might start to address needs that have not been met.
Early Maladaptive Schemas, Emotion Regulation Difficulties and Alexithymia
How do early experiences shape the ability to navigate emotions? This meta-analysis explores the relationship between early maladaptive schemas (EMS), emotion regulation difficulties, and alexithymia. It reveals that certain EMS, notably those relating to attachment and autonomy, strongly influence challenges in understanding and modulating emotions. The findings suggest that targeting the childhood memories underpinning these schemas might be helpful, such as through imagery rescripting.
“The findings suggest that emotion regulation problems and alexithymia are prominent in individuals who hold disproportionate expectations that their needs for safety, predictability, acceptance and secure attachment will not be met. A pessimistic orientation, encompassing a perception that the world and what happens in the world is uncontrollable, and inevitably bad, plays an important role in difficulties regulating affective experience. The results have important implications for future efforts seeking to bridge emotion-focused and cognitive therapeutic approaches”.
Pilkington, P. D., Karantzas, G. C., Faustino, B., & Pizarro‐Campagna, E. (2023). Early maladaptive schemas, emotion regulation difficulties and alexithymia: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy.
Treating Emotion Dysregulation in Patients with Borderline Personality Disorder
This study investigated the effectiveness of imagery rescripting in addressing emotion dysregulation amongst people given a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD). The results indicate that just two sessions of imagery rescripting led to a reduction in unhelpful emotion regulation strategies and an increase in adaptive ones. Furthermore, individuals receiving this intervention group experienced improvements in impulsivity, depression, and other symptoms compared to the treatment-as-usual group. The study suggests that a short imagery-based intervention could be a valuable routine for managing BPD-related symptoms, particularly when mental images related to emotional dysregulation are present.
Sosic-Vasic, Z., Schaitz, C., Mayer, B., Maier, A., Connemann, B., & Kroener, J. (2024). Treating emotion dysregulation in patients with borderline personality disorder using imagery rescripting: A two-session randomized controlled trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 173, 104454.