Schema Therapy is an evidence-based, integrative psychotherapy for personality disorders. Originally developed by Dr. Jeffrey Young in the United States, it has shown impressive evidence of effectiveness in randomized clinical trials, reducing the symptoms of personality disorders, and improving quality of life, in a broad range of patients. Schema Therapy is one of the few forms of psychotherapy that has proven effective in patients with Borderline Personality Disorder, a severe personality disorder which has a ten percent lifetime prevalence of completed suicide. Schema Therapy reduces suicidal and other self-harm behaviors in these patients, improves their sense of identity, interpersonal relationships, and other symptoms, and leaves them able to function better and experience more life satisfaction. Schema Therapy has also shown greater effectiveness compared to other treatments in patients who are avoidant, dependent, or perfectionistic (the so-called Cluster C personality disorders).
Most recently, Prof. David Bernstein has adapted Schema Therapy for patients with aggressive and antisocial behavior, including psychopathic patients, who are often considered untreatable. Results of a major randomized clinical trial show that Schema Therapy was more effective than usual treatment for personality disorder patients in high security forensic hospitals. Schema Therapy lowered personality disorder symptoms, reduced risks and increased strengths, and speeded the rehabilitation process, helping these patients to reintegrate into their communities.
The iModes are based on schema modes, a central concept in Schema Therapy. Research shows that people can identify the meaning of the iModes images by correctly choosing adjectives describing them. Moreover, participants were able to apply the iModes images to themselves: their self-ratings using the iModes correlated highly with a self-report questionnaire measuring the schema modes.
Prof. Bernstein and his colleagues use the iModes in their work with many different clinical populations: youth with behavior problems and their families, addicted patients, and forensic patients. They also use the iModes for staff training as part of the Safe Path program, where multidisciplinary teams learn how to work with personality disorder patients more effectively.