Topic Progress:

In the first exercise of this session, a short questionnaire is provided to determine which of the recognized schema coping mechanisms dominate your personality. Read each statement carefully and evaluate to what extent it applies to you. Write a number between 1 and 6 in the spaces allocated next to each statement, according to the indicated scale.

Download and print the questionnaire here: Measuring Coping Strategies

Description of Schema Coping Mechanisms

A. Schema Avoidance

It refers to the ways that people avoid activating schemas that cause negative experiences. There are three behaviors of all schema avoidance: cognitive, emotional, and behavioral. These refer to the efforts that people make not to think about upsetting events (cognitive), to numb their painful feelings by, for instance, drinking or using drugs (emotional), and acting in a way as to avoid situations that trigger schemas, for instance, avoiding challenges, decisions, and new experiences, or engaging in compulsive stimulation seeking.

B. Schema Overcompensation

The individual behaves in a manner that appears to be the opposite of what the schema suggests in order to avoid triggering it. For instance, a person with a dependence schema may go overboard to act in a way to appear independent as if not needing other people. This may involve aggression or hostility, excessive self-assertion, manipulation or exploitation, passive aggressive resistance, and obsessionality.

C. Schema Surrender

When a negative schema gets triggered, a person gives in or surrenders to the schema. For instance, when a person who is a habitual ‘surrenderer’ encounter a schema, s/he may simply resort to rely on others, give in, be dependent, behave passively, avoid conflict, or try to please others.

As you can see, each of the types of schema coping strategies has a unique response style to stressful situations. Although each is perfectly normal and present in all of us, they are not the best way to deal with difficult situations. Every style is an attempt to minimize the distress but mostly has the opposite effect. Now that you know you dominant schema coping style and understand its function and effect better, it is time to become aware whenever such a response is activated. It is also possible that you have more than one active style, depending on the situation that precedes it.

It is important to become aware of your personal coping style. Our motto is that becoming aware of a problem is the first step to dealing with it and developing better alternatives. It is the same here. Whenever you feel distressed or do something that has bad or unintended consequences for yourself or others, not the particulars of the situation (who was involved, when, where, how, and why), your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, what the response and other outcomes were, and how that made you feel.Do this every time you feel unhappy, dissatisfied, angry, acted out, or did nothing when you feel you should have done something else. In the second

Do this every time you feel unhappy, dissatisfied, angry, acted out, or did nothing when you feel you should have done something else. In the second activity, you write these observations down while also starting to think about and formulating better options in the situation.

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