A schema mode model of repetitive negative thinking

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Journal Article
Clinical Psychologist, 2020, 24, (2), pp. 99-113
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Background: Schema Therapy mode formulations have recently been extended to a range of chronic, treatment-resistant psychological disorders. Aim: The aim of this study was to examine whether two forms of repetitive negative thinking (rumination and worry) can be conceptualised as a maladaptive coping mode, we term the “over-analysing” mode, consistent with Young's schema mode model, which serves to distance individuals from distressing emotional states. Methodology: Two online survey studies were conducted in community populations: study one (n = 109) investigated the relationship between schema modes, worry, and experiential avoidance. Study two (n = 129) extended the findings to include, in addition to schema modes and experiential avoidance, rumination and repetitive negative thinking. Results: Correlational analyses supported all hypothesised relationships across both studies. Mediation analyses across both studies identified a model in which the relationship between angry and vulnerable child modes, and worry, rumination, and repetitive negative thinking, respectively, was mediated by experiential avoidance. Conclusion: These findings conceptually support the addition of a new “over-analysing” coping mode, which serves an avoidant function through repetitive negative thinking (a central component of mood and anxiety disorders) to the schema mode model. Generalisability of results is limited through the use of a cross-sectional design and a heterogeneous, nonclinical sample. Further examination of the “over-analysing” mode may enhance Schema Therapy conceptualisations, particularly in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. Moreover, emotion-focused techniques found to be successful in Schema Therapy for personality disorders (e.g., imagery rescripting, chair-techniques) may be relevant to modifying maladaptive schemas thoughts to underlie repetitive negative thinking processes such as worry and rumination.
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