The Buttery Private uses Compassion-Focused and Schema Therapy to successfully treat a range of mental health problems.

What is Schema Therapy?

It was developed by Jeffrey Young to assist individuals with mental health and substance use difficulties who did not respond to traditional Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Schema Therapy places an emphasis on the therapeutic relationship, feelings and mood, childhood history, coping styles and core entrenched themes.

Schema Therapy believes that schemas emerge from our early experiences – ones in which as young people our needs were profoundly not met.

For example, a young person who experiences trauma where they are harmed might develop a schema that reflects the presence of danger, pain or threat. The core emotional need for safety is unfulfilled or challenged, possibly leading to a schema of mistrust, hypervigilance, anxiety or hopelessness.

Over the course of early development, schemas may become fixed through reinforcement or modelling by others. Later in life, they can be  maintained by the habitual use of particular coping styles. In clients with mental health issues, schemas can be triggered or activated by events relevant to the schema and maintained by dysfunctional ways of coping or self-medication.

Coping Styles

There are three different coping styles in schema therapy.

  • Surrender (derived from the automatic ‘freeze’ response)
  • Overcompensation (derived from the automatic ‘fight’ response)
  • Avoidance (derived from the automatic ‘flight’ response)

So how do your childhood experiences affect the way you cope with life now?

There are 18 identified schemas, which can be classified in five domains according to the unmet core needs to which they are most strongly related.

A lack of security and love

One domain involves schemas related to violations of the basic universal needs for security, safety, stability, and nurturance, empathy, sharing of feelings, acceptance and respectSchemas in this domain often emerge when the early family environment was detached, withholding, cold, rejecting, violent,  unpredictable or abusive.


A common schema that can occur in this domain is that of abandonment. This schema involves the perception that others – particularly those from whom we expect support and connection – are unstable and/or unreliable in providing these and will not be able to continue providing emotional support, connection, strength or practical protection. Family environments involving frequent angry outbursts, caregivers who were inconsistently present, or parental figures who left or died are common precursors to this schema.

A lack of internal limits and control

Another set of schemas relates to a lack of internal limits, responsibility towards others, or long-term goal setting. These schemas can lead to difficulties respecting the rights of others, cooperating with others, making commitments or setting and meeting goals. These schemas can emerge when the early family environment is characterised by overindulgence, lack of direction or superiority. Often such families may have lacked discipline or limit setting and did not model particular behaviours.

A common schema that can occur in this domain is Insufficient Self Control or Self Discipline. This refers to a difficulty or to exercise sufficient self-control and frustration to achieve personal goals, or to restrain expression of our emotions or impulses. People who experience this schema may try and avoid discomfort, pain, conflict, confrontation or responsibility at the expense of personal fulfilment, commitment or integrity.

A lack of spontaneity and playfulness

In this domain, we have schemas related to violations of the need for spontaneity and playfulness. These may result in an emphasis on suppressing one’s spontaneous feelings, impulses and choices. They can also result in a perpetual focus on meeting rigid internalised rules and expectations about performance and behaviour at the expense of happiness, expression, relaxation, relationships or health. Often these schemas emerge from a family atmosphere that is demanding.

Unrelenting standards/hypercriticalnessThis schema relates to the underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalised standards of behaviour and performance, usually to avoid criticism. This typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down, and in criticalness toward oneself and others.

Can these issues be addressed?

Yes. The Buttery Private is a four-week residential program followed by 3-months of aftercare support. It is an early-intervention program which focuses on the whole of an individual’s wellbeing.

Psychological treatments include compassion-focused therapy, schema therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, exposure therapy and mindfulness to address wellbeing.

Call 1300 851 695 to inquire about  The Buttery Private program.



Rafaeli, e., Bernstein, D. P., & Young, J. (2011). Schema Therapy. Routledge: East Sussex, UK.

Young, J. E., Klosko, J. S., Weishaar, M. E. (2003). Schema Therapy: A Practitioner’s Guide. The Guilford Press: New York.