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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.

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.

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