Objective: Schema Therapy (ST) integrates cognitive-behavior therapy with emotion-focused, gestalt and object relations approaches. ST postulates that unmet emotional core needs in childhood play a role in the development of Early Maladaptive Schemas, that are maintained by dysfunctional coping strategies, and reveal themselves through specific modes. Ad hoc ST conceptualizations for personality disorders or for specific psychological conditions, have been proposed in the last years. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of schemas, modes and coping styles in non-clinical subjects, exploring the association with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms severity. Moreover, we explored schemas, modes and coping styles constructs in two sub-groups, characterized by higher and lower obsessive symptoms. Finally, those constructs have been investigated in specific OC subtypes.
Method: Selected from a sample of two-hundred, fifty-one subjects with high OCD symptoms (assessed through the Obsessive Compulsive Inventory–R) and fifty-nine healthy controls were recruited. Measures of schemas, modes and coping styles were collected. Additional indexes of depression were collected. Descriptive, between-group and
correlation analyses were performed. Participants were selected from a normal population, thus, the study should be
replicated involving a clinical population.
Results: Specific schemas (i.e., mistrust/abuse, vulnerability to harm and high standards), modes (i.e., demanding parent) and coping styles (i.e., intra-psychic avoidance) were identified in the high OCD symptoms group, with precise peculiarities for OCD characteristics (i.e., washing, checking and obsessions). Further, OC symptoms severity was positively associated with specific schemas and dysfunctional modes.
Conclusions: Our results confirm previous findings investigating schemas and modes in OCD populations.