Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

Living Edition
| Editors: Jay Lebow, Anthony Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Schemas in Families

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_54-1

Name of Concept

Schemas in Families


Schemas are cognitive structures that impact the way one organizes thought and perception, while influencing emotion and behavior (Dattilio 2007). Family schemas serve as a template for how individuals make sense of their lives and are learned from early childhood interactions.

Theoretical Context for Concept

Aaron T. Beck (1967) originally introduced the concept of schemas through his cognitive behavioral therapy literature; he worked with depressed clients and explored the beliefs they held about themselves, their future, and their world. Piaget (1954) and Bowlby (1969) suggested that early childhood interactions had a significant impact on the developmental internal working models of reality, which aided in further establishing schema theories, which now suggest that individuals develop knowledge structures through long-term interactions with their environment (Dattilio 2005, as cited in Dattilio 2006).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Brian Baucom
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA