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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.

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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.


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


  • 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.