17 Schema Therapy Books for Improving Your Therapeutic Skills

Schema therapy booksTherapists often turn to Schema Therapy (ST) when patients with psychological problems fail to respond to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Young, Klosko, & Weishaar, 2006).

ST is an integrative therapeutic model initially developed to treat complex problems such as personality disorders, targeting maladaptive psychological patterns formed during childhood (Jacob & Arntz, 2013).

Schema Therapy is increasingly being used to treat any patient presenting with entrenched ways of perceiving the world and behavioral patterns (Simpson, 2018).

The books in this article are valuable for individuals seeking to use ST for self-help or therapists wishing to use ST methods with their clients.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free. These science-based exercises explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.

Therapists’ Guide to Schema Therapy

Healing maladaptive schemas formed early in life requires knowledgeable and skilled therapists (Young et al., 2006).

The following books are helpful for those new to ST or those wishing to revisit schema therapy and refresh their knowledge.

 

1. Schema Therapy: A Practitioner’s Guide – Jeffrey Young, Janet Klosko, and Marjorie Weishaar

Schema Therapy

This book is perhaps the definitive guide to the power and potential of the ST model to resolve deeply held, unhelpful schematic beliefs.

The guide includes in-depth descriptions of how to conceptualize challenging cases, dig deeper into childhood history, and recognize and treat self-defeating patterns through the use of imagery and other experiential techniques.

There are specific chapters covering the therapeutic relationship and how to apply the model for borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

2. Schema Therapy in Practice: An Introductory Guide to the Schema Mode Approach – Arnoud Arntz and Gitta Jacob

Schema therapy in practice

Professor of clinical psychology and experimental psychopathology Arnoud Arntz and clinical psychologist and cognitive and schema therapist Gitta Jacob provide the interested reader with an extensive introduction to ST.

Their book explores in-depth how the model can halt maladaptive coping styles and mend self-defeating schemas triggered by our overreaction to life events.

The book is a practical guide valuable for any practice. It comes illustrated with many helpful examples to teach the reader how to handle schema modes using emotional, cognitive, and behavioral techniques.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

3. The Schema Therapy Clinician’s Guide: A Complete Resource for Building and Delivering Individual, Group and Integrated Schema Mode Treatment Programs – Joan Farrell, Neele Reiss, and Ida Shaw

Clinician's Guide

This book is an extensive resource and clinical toolkit for psychotherapists wishing to adopt and adapt ST techniques for their practices.

Whether you are new to ST or want to apply the approach in a practical, cost-effective way, The Schema Therapy Clinician’s Guide is highly engaging and packed full with the resources required to work on specific schema modes.

The guide offers step-by-step instructions for therapists to identify and target maladaptive schema modes in individual and group therapy. It includes ready-to-use handouts, scripts, exercises, and assignment forms that can be selected, tailored, and delivered according to the patients’ needs.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

4. Creative Methods in Schema Therapy – Gillian Heath and Helen Startup

Creative methods

Jeffery Young, the founder of ST, describes this book as a “wonderful compilation of clinically rich innovations in ST practice,” and, as such, it will appeal to both junior and experienced therapists.

This book is more than a guide; it is a detailed examination of the developments and trends in ST and how to include them in the reader’s practice.

While the book explores ST in general, there are chapters providing insight into its use in treating eating disorders, relationship difficulties, and trauma.

Heath and Startup have provided a valuable addition to the resources available for therapists of all experience levels wishing to practice within the integrative framework of ST.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

5. Schema Therapy: Distinctive Features – Eshkol Rafaeli, David Bernstein, and Jeffrey Young

ST Distinctive

The pioneers of ST use this book to explain how ST successfully combines Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with interpersonal, experiential, and psychodynamic techniques to confront and modify negative thoughts and behavioral patterns.

The first part of the book introduces the expanding field of ST, ideal for those new to the approach, before sharing practical guidance on its implementation.

While the book is highly valued as an introductory text for therapists wishing to introduce ST techniques into their treatment, it is also a helpful roadmap, with some great examples to help interested readers or patients along their journey.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

6. Schema Therapy for Children and Adolescents: A Practitioner’s Guide – Christof Loose, Peter Graaf, Gerhard Zarbock, and Ruth Holt

St for children

The editors of this book designed it for therapists working with children and adolescents. They provide a broad range of child and parent-specific ST techniques to explore deeply entrenched ways of thinking, behaving, and responding to situations.

Detailed and specific age-appropriate guidance is given for the therapist to engage in appropriate schema dialogues and use imaginative play to help children and adolescents move forward with healthier coping mechanisms.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

7. Schema Therapy With Couples: A Practitioner’s Guide to Healing Relationships – Chiara Simeone-DiFrancesco, Eckhard Roediger, and Bruce Stevens

ST with couples

Schema Therapy With Couples is a valuable guide for therapists who wish to use ST in their couples therapy.

With a strong foundation in ST, this book explores conflict in couples and considers what can go wrong in relationships before explaining how to implement specific ST interventions.

The richness of examples and detailed guidance provide the reader with new insights and innovative ways to help their clients as they progress through treatment.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

8. Emotional Schema Therapy – Robert Leahy

Emotional schema therapy

Robert Leahy, author of many therapy books, introduces tools for therapists to help patients understand the origins of their emotions and the paths to accepting and dealing with them.

This book highlights the importance and role of emotions in psychological disorders and the variety of techniques available to work with them throughout the therapeutic process.

Leahy provides accessible and essential guidance for clinicians to deal with complex psychological experiences by targeting emotional schemas throughout therapy.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

9. Schema Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder – Arnoud Arntz and Hannie van Genderen

Borderline Schema Therapy

Arntz and Van Genderen wrote this book for therapists wishing to use ST to treat patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

The detailed guide explains how using ST has led to substantial improvement in the majority of BPD cases. It includes patient handouts, a diary, and homework assignments that support the processing of traumatic experiences to bring about positive change.

The book is an essential read for clinicians at all levels, as it covers all the latest developments in ST along with treatment methods geared to each schema mode.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

10. Cognitive Therapy for Personality Disorders: A Schema-Focused Approach (Practitioner’s Resource Series) – Jeffrey Young

Cognitive Therapy

Jeffrey Young’s 1999 classic work on ST is a well-written and thought-out book that concisely explains the principles behind the therapy.

It provides an accessible grounding to both interested readers and experienced therapists wishing to understand how to better treat deeply embedded and possibly harmful perceptions and behaviors.

While over 20 years old, the book still provides a helpful background to ST and its value in treating personality disorders and more.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

11. Group Schema Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder: A Step-by-Step Treatment Manual with Patient Workbook – Joan Farrell and Ida Shaw

Group Schema Therapy

This highly engaging book by Joan Farrell and Ida Shaw provides a detailed approach for using ST in group therapy to treat borderline personality disorder.

Along with chapters from international ST experts, there are plenty of user-friendly materials for sharing with the group.

This valuable text seeks to make ST a widely available, cost-effective, and valued treatment for BPD.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

12. Schema Therapy for Eating Disorders: Theory and Practice for Individual and Group Settings – Susan Simpson and Evelyn Smith

ST for eating disorders

ST is effective in treating a wide range of disorders. Susan Simpson and Evelyn Smith introduce the technique as a helpful and practical treatment for eating disorders to integrate both developmental and deeper level personality factors.

Drawing on the latest research in the subject, the book outlines how to apply the ST model across eating disorder groups while ensuring self-care in the mental health profession over long-term and potentially challenging treatments.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

13. The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Schema Therapy: Theory, Research, and Practice – Michiel van Vreeswijk, Jenny Broersen, and Marjon Nadort

Wiley-Blackwell

This handbook offers a detailed and comprehensive description of ST, including its theory, diagnosis, treatment, implementation, and management.

Chapters cover recent developments and new applications for ST beyond treating BPD. Descriptions of contemporary theory and the current state of affairs in ST include its implementation pitfalls and possible resolutions.

This is a detailed book for therapists or students requiring an in-depth understanding of ST and its potential for treating psychological disorders.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

14. Mindfulness and Schema Therapy: A Practical Guide – Michiel van Vreeswijk, Jenny Broersen, and Ger Schurink

Mindfulness and ST

Mindfulness has been used successfully in a wide variety of mental health treatments and interventions.

Mindfulness and Schema Therapy provides a unique eight-session guide for integrating mindfulness techniques into ST. It is a highly practical guide that merges two increasingly popular techniques to treat clients.

The authors suggest that through the addition of mindfulness practices, patients can learn to respond in healthier ways to themselves and others.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

Self-Help Approach to Schema Therapy

Greater psychological knowledge for both patients participating in therapy and general readers is valuable for mental wellbeing and can be constructive in treating psychological problems (Motlova et al., 2017).

The following three books explore schema therapy and its potential for use in self-help and psychoeducation.

 

15. Breaking Negative Thinking Patterns: A Schema Therapy Self-Help and Support Book – Gitta Jacob, Hannie van Genderen, and Laura Seebauer

Breaking negative thinking

This engaging and highly readable book is aimed at patients of ST rather than therapists. The self-help guide uses illustrations and examples to help readers tackle their personal maladaptive coping styles and behaviors.

There are also online materials available to support the teachings and help readers apply what they learn to real-world situations and complex emotional problems.

Key sections within the guide include how to get in contact with your vulnerable child mode, detect a demanding parent mode in other people, set limits to angry or impulsive child modes, and reduce avoidance and overcompensation.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

16. Experiencing Schema Therapy from the Inside Out: A Self-Practice/Self-Reflection Workbook for Therapists – Joan Farrell and Ida Shaw

Experiencing Schema Therapy

This book has a unique approach. It builds self-help skills within therapists (or patients) so they can apply ST techniques to themselves and then reflect on the experience.

The guide aims to make mental health professionals better therapists by overcoming personal and professional problems through a series of cognitive, behavioral, and experiential pattern-breaking interventions.

Purchase of the book includes access to online materials that encourage self-practice and self-reflection while developing and maturing as a schema therapist.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

17. Don’t Believe Everything You Feel: A CBT Workbook to Identify Your Emotional Schemas and Find Freedom from Anxiety and Depression – Robert Leahy

Dont believe

This book targets anyone who struggles with their emotions and requires help to pursue more meaningful life goals.

It combines lessons and techniques taken from CBT and ST to identify unhelpful or damaging emotions and then helps the reader swap them for more effective coping strategies.

Robert Leahy provides an essential guide for anyone needing help to navigate the challenges they face as they experience a range of emotions, including coping with painful ones.

The stories and worksheets are easy to use and help readers discover their emotional style while building emotional resilience.

Find the book on Amazon.

 

PositivePsychology.com’s Relevant Resources

We have many resources, worksheets, and tools to help you form more helpful beliefs about your situation. Why not try some of the following yourself or with your clients?

  • Challenging Catastrophic Thinking
    It can be very damaging to believe the worst will happen. This worksheet helps explain catastrophic thinking and how to reinterpret how you feel about an event.

  • Thought Record (Cognitive Restructuring)
    Faulty thinking can damage our confidence and ability to achieve goals. Recognizing a list of damaging thinking styles can help us identify and replace unhelpful automatic thinking.

  • Costs and Benefits of Unhelpful Behavior
    Clients often persist in unhelpful and unhealthy behaviors even when they do not take them toward their chosen goals. This exercise helps clients recognize and understand the motivational forces that cause them to persist in problematic behavior.

  • Addressing Unhelpful Beliefs about Romantic Relationships
    Positive relationships are an important factor contributing to health and happiness. This worksheet helps you see that you have control over the satisfaction in your relationship.

  • The Neuroanatomy of an Emotion
    We experience events emotionally before we do so rationally. It can be helpful to understand the neuroanatomy of the brain that underpins these emotions.

  • Cognitive Restructuring
    Many of our thoughts do not accurately represent reality. Therefore, it can be a valuable exercise to consider other ways of thinking that may offer a more accurate depiction.

 

A Take-Home Message

Schema Therapy aims to help clients with psychological problems when other treatments have proven unsuccessful (Young et al., 2006).

ST is increasingly being used when clients present with deeply entrenched perceptions, or schemas, of the world across a range of clinical settings and groups, including borderline personality disorder, chronic depression, eating disorders, and substance and alcohol abuse and dependency (Jacob & Arntz, 2013).

Expanding on existing CBT treatments, ST is process driven and uses various techniques, including experiential and emotion-focused interventions, to drive corrective emotional experiences, emotional change, and growth (Simpson, 2018).

Unusually, the therapist adopts a limited parenting role, attempting to fulfill unmet childhood needs in the patient, providing care and warmth while helping them understand and validate the origins of unhelpful thinking or behavioral patterns (Jacob & Arntz, 2013).

Successfully integrating techniques and methods from various therapies, including attachment theory, CBT, and psychodynamic therapy, requires a great deal of knowledge and skill.

Use the books in this article to introduce you to the ST approach or top up existing skills and knowledge. The treatment is becoming increasingly popular with both clients and therapists because of its success in dealing with unresolved problems and progression to a full recovery (Kopf-Beck et al., 2020).

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free.

If you wish for more tools, our Positive Psychology Toolkit© contains over 350 science-based positive psychology exercises, interventions, questionnaires, and assessments for practitioners to use in their therapy, coaching, or workplace.

  • Arntz, A., & Jacob, G. (2012). Schema therapy in practice: An introductory guide to the schema mode approach. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Arntz, A., & Van Genderen, H. (2020). Schema therapy for borderline personality disorder (2nd ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Farrell, J. M., Reiss, N., & Shaw, I. A. (2014). The schema therapy clinician’s guide: A complete resource for building and delivering individual, group and integrated schema mode treatment programs. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Farrell, J. M., & Shaw, I. A. (2012). Group schema therapy for borderline personality disorder: A step-by-step treatment manual with patient workbook. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Farrell, J. M., & Shaw, I. A. (2018). Experiencing schema therapy from the inside out: A self-practice/self-reflection workbook for therapists. Guilford Press.
  • Heath, G., & Startup, H. (Eds.). (2020). Creative methods in schema therapy. Routledge.
  • Jacob, G. A., & Arntz, A. (2013). Schema therapy for personality disorders—A review. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 6(2), 171–185.
  • Jacob, G. A., van Genderen, H., & Seebauer, L. (2015). Breaking negative thinking patterns: A schema therapy self-help and support book. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Kopf-Beck, J., Zimmermann, P., Egli, S., Rein, M., Kappelmann, N., Fietz, J., … Keck, M. E. (2020). Schema therapy versus cognitive behavioral therapy versus individual supportive therapy for depression in an inpatient and day clinic setting: Study protocol of the OPTIMA-RCT. BMC Psychiatry, 20(1), 506.
  • Leahy, R. L. (2019). Emotional schema therapy. Guilford Press.
  • Leahy, R. L. (2020). Don’t believe everything you feel: A CBT workbook to identify your emotional schemas and find freedom from anxiety and depression. New Harbinger.
  • Loose, C., Graaf, P., Zarbock, G., & Holt, R. A. (Eds.). (2020). Schema therapy with children and adolescents: A practitioner’s guide. Pavilion.
  • Motlova, L. B., Balon, R., Beresin, E. V., Brenner, A. M., Coverdale, J. H., Guerrero, A. P., … Roberts, L. W. (2017). Psychoeducation as an opportunity for patients, psychiatrists, and Psychiatric educators: Why do we ignore it? Academic Psychiatry, 41(4), 447–451.
  • Rafaeli, E., Bernstein, D. P., & Young, J. (2010). Schema therapy: Distinctive features. Routledge
  • Simeone-DiFrancesco, C., Roediger, E., & Stevens, B. A. (2015). Schema therapy with couples: A practitioner’s guide to healing relationships. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Simpson, S. (2018, January 19). Schema therapy: Working with complex clinical presentations and personality-based problems. The British Psychological Society. Retrieved May 20, 2021, from https://www.bps.org.uk/blogs/guest/schema-therapy-working-complex-clinical-presentations-and-personality-based-problems/
  • Simpson, S., & Smith, E. (Eds.). (2019). Schema therapy for eating disorders: Theory and practice for individuals and group settings. Routledge.
  • van Vreeswijk, M., Broersen, J., & Nadort, M. (Eds.). (2015). The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of schema therapy: Theory, research, and practice. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • van Vreeswijk, M., Broersen, J., & Schurink, G. (2014). Mindfulness and schema therapy: A practical guide. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Young, J. E. (1999). Cognitive therapy for personality disorders: A schema-focused approach (3rd ed.). Professional Resource Exchange.
  • Young, J. E., Klosko, J. S., & Weishaar, M. E. (2006). Schema therapy: A practitioner’s guide. Guilford Press.

About the Author

Jeremy Sutton, Ph.D., is a writer and researcher studying the human capacity to push physical and mental limits. His work always remains true to the science beneath, his real-world background in technology, his role as a husband and parent, and his passion as an ultra-marathoner.

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