Schema Therapy Coping Styles

What are Coping Styles in Schema Therapy?

Brain Blue GreenIn the schema therapy model, we conceptualize the development of schemas and modes as systems people develop to cope with childhood pain associated with their core emotional needs not being met. There are three major coping styles and you may be using one or more of these:

  • Surrendering by accommodating to the way you are treated and acting as if, and believing, it is the way things should be.
  • Avoiding by disconnecting emotionally or physically from the people who mistreat you and/or by disconnecting from your own emotions.
  • Overcompensating by attempting to fight against the schema and prove it is not true. For example, you may try to do things perfectly so that you don’t feel defective or try to get control over others so that you don’t get taken advantage of.

While each of these three ways of coping helps to reduce pain in the short run, they become the way we maintain maladaptive schemas and modes in the long run. Those of us who lean towards surrendering will need help to learn to fight against mistreatment and neglect, those of us who lean towards avoidance will need help to gain the courage to face painful feelings and challenging situations and those of us who lean towards overcompensation will need help to gain the courage to become more vulnerable.

Typical Coping Styles


Compliance, Dependence: Relies on others, gives in, seeks affiliation, passive, dependent, submissive, clinging, avoids conflict, people-pleasing.


Social Withdrawal, Excessive Autonomy: Copes through social isolation, disconnection, and withdrawal. May demonstrate an exaggerated focus on independence and self-reliance, rather than involvement with others. Sometimes retreats through private activities such as excessive tv watching, reading, recreational computing, or solitary work.

Compulsive Stimulation-Seeking: Seeks excitement or distraction through compulsive shopping, sex, gambling, risk-taking, physical activity, novelty, etc.

Addictive Self-Soothing: Avoids through addictions involving the body, such as alcohol, drugs, overeating, excessive masturbation, etc.

Psychological Withdrawal: Copes through dissociation, numbness, denial, fantasy, or other internal forms of psychological escape


Aggression, Hostility: Counterattacks through defying, abusing, blaming, attacking, or criticizing others

Dominance, Excessive Self-Assertion: Controls others through direct means to accomplish goals

Recognition-Seeking, Status-Seeking: Overcompensates through impressing, high achievement, status, and/or attention-seeking

Manipulation, Exploitation: Meets own needs through covert manipulation, seduction, dishonesty, or conning

Passive-Aggressiveness, Rebellion: Appears overtly compliant while punishing others or rebelling covertly through procrastination, pouting, “backstabbing,” lateness, complaining, rebellion, non-performance, etc.

Excessive Orderliness, Obsessionality: Maintains strict order, tight self-control, or high level of predictability through order & planning, excessive adherence to routine or ritual, or undue caution. Devotes inordinate time to finding the best way to accomplish tasks or avoid negative outcomes.

How to Find Schema Therapy in San Jose/Saratoga and Sacramento/Roseville

The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center in Silicon Valley (San Jose/Saratoga) and Sacramento Valley (Roseville) specializes in schema therapy. Call us in Saratoga at (408) 384-8404 or in Roseville at (916) 778-0771 or Click to send an email for more information on how we can help you or your family members modify unhelpful coping styles using schema therapy.

Silicon Valley and Sacramento Valley Communities We Serve

Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley offers evidence-based therapy for Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Eating Disorders near the following Silicon Valley/San Jose communities:

San Jose Therapy CounselingSaratoga Therapy CounselingLos Gatos Therapy Counseling Monte Sereno Therapy Counseling • Cupertino Therapy CounselingCampbell Therapy CounselingMountain View Therapy CounselingLos Altos Therapy CounselingSunnyvale Therapy CounselingSanta Clara Therapy Counseling

Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Sacramento Valley offers evidence-based therapy for Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Eating Disorders near the following Sacramento Valley and Sierra communities:

Sacramento Therapy CounselingRoseville Therapy Counseling • Rocklin Therapy Counseling • Granite Bay Therapy Counseling • Lincoln Therapy CounselingFolsom Therapy Counseling • Citrus Heights Therapy Counseling •  El Dorado Hills Therapy Counseling • Loomis Therapy CounselingGrass Valley Therapy Counseling  • Auburn Therapy Counseling

Saratoga: (408) 384-8404
Roseville: (916) 778-0771
Click to send an email