Schema therapy according to Jeffrey E. Young is an extension of behavioural therapy and integrates findings and techniques from psychodynamic, attachment theory and figure therapy concepts. It has thus become a psychotherapeutic method that combines elements of coping and clarification, while at the same time understanding the therapeutic relationship as a central component of the therapeutic process.
At the centre of this form of therapy are the so-called schemata that arise in childhood and run like a red thread through a person's life. A scheme affects both the person him/herself and the relationship with other people. It often has its origins in childhood and youth and can develop throughout life.
Schemes are conceived as a memory structure of a broad pervasive theme or pattern, a whole that represents bodily reactions, bodily sensations, emotions and cognitions, especially pictorial ideas and episodic memories, and is ultimately reflected in behaviour.
In therapy, various cognitive and experiential techniques are used to expose the obstructive schemata involved in the development or maintenance of a mental illness and to change them in such a way that thinking, experience and behaviour are permanently changed for the better.