Skip to main content

Schema Metaphors

Core beliefs (schemas) are self-sustaining. They act to 'attract' confirmatory evidence and 'repel' or 'distort' disconfirmatory evidence. This information handout uses metaphor to explain the operation of schema maintenance.

Download or send

Choose your language

Professional version

A PDF of the resource, theoretical background, suggested therapist questions and prompts.

Client version

A PDF of the resource plus client-friendly instructions where appropriate.

Editable version (PPT)

An editable Microsoft PowerPoint version of the resource.

Translation Template

Are you a qualified therapist who would like to help with our translation project?


Languages this resource is available in

  • Arabic
  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • English (GB)
  • English (US)
  • German
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Latvian
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Spanish (International)

Techniques associated with this resource

Mechanisms associated with this resource

Introduction & Theoretical Background

Cognitive therapy addresses cognition at three levels: automatic thoughts, conditional assumptions, and core beliefs (schemas). Metaphors are a helpful way for clients to understand what schemas are and how they often operate to maintain a status-quo. Schema Metaphors is an illustrated series of metaphors to aid understanding of what schemas are and how they shape our perceptions.

Therapist Guidance

This is a Psychology Tools information handout. Suggested uses include:
  • Client handout - use as a psychoeducation resource
  • Discussion point - use to provoke a discussion and explore client beliefs
  • Therapist learning tool - improve your familiarity with a psychological construct
  • Teaching resource - use as a learning tool during training

References And Further Reading

  • Butler, G., Fennell, M., Hackmann, A. (2008). Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders. New York: Guilford.
  • Padesky, C. (1991). Schema as self-prejudice. International Cognitive Therapy Newsletter, 6, 6-7.