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5.00 PM - 6.30 PM

Hot Topics: Session 2 

A Bibliometric Analysis of the Quantitative Literature on Schema Therapy

by  Pam Pilkington & Gery Karantzas


Background. The evidence base for schema therapy has evolved significantly since it was first developed by Jeffrey Young in the 1990s. The aim of this bibliometric analysis was to summarise and evaluate the status of the quantitative schema therapy literature.

Method. A systematic search of PsycInfo, PubMed and CINAHL was completed on 15 February 2022 in compliance with the PRISMA 2020 statement to identify peer-reviewed journal articles, written in English, that reported on original quantitative research on schema therapy or its constructs. NVivo was used to complete a descriptive analysis of the study characteristics based on their full text, VosViewer was used to examine co-authorship and keyword frequency, and SciVal was used to complete a citations analysis.

Results. A total of 628 quantitative studies on schema therapy were published since 1994, with a steady annual increase in articles. The 628 publications were authored by 328 unique authors. Most studies were correlational, recruited small samples (N = 1 to 200) of mostly female adult participants, and included at least one clinical group. Most studies focused on individual early maladaptive schemas, rather than schema domains or schema modes. Depression, eating disorders, and personality disorders were the primary outcomes. On average, each article was cited 15.3 times, with a Field Weighted Citation Index of 1.01. The most highly cited publications reported on randomised controlled trials of schema therapy.

Conclusions. The findings reflect that schema therapy has a relatively small literature base, but it is cited at a rate slightly above the global average for similar publications. Future research to address the most pressing gaps in the schema therapy evidence should focus on empirical validation of the schema mode concept and recruiting gender-balanced samples. Where costs prohibit randomised controlled trials, it may be beneficial to evaluate schema therapy effectiveness using designs such as step-wedged trials and systematic case studies.

About the Presenters:

Dr. Pam Pilkington 

Dr. Pam Pilkington is an Advanced Schema Therapist (Individual) and Clinical Psychologist working in private practice in Melbourne, Australia since the completion of her PhD in 2016. In addition to clinical work, Pam enjoys engaging in research, and teaching postgraduate psychology students at the Australian Catholic University. For the past 10 years, Pam has contributed to research on parenting, childhood experiences, and the prevention and treatment of mental illness. Since late 2020, Pam has contributed to 10 journal articles relating to schema therapy and is interested in advancing the evidence base supporting our clinical work.

Gery Katanzas 

Gery Karantzas is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology and Director of the Science of Adult Relationships (SoAR) Laboratory at Deakin University. He is one of Australia’s foremost experts in adult attachment and is regarded as one of the nation’s leading relationship scientists. Gery has delivered workshops, seminars and lectures in relationship science to the general public, graduate and undergraduate students, and professionals for over a decade. He has edited and authored over 70 publications including the Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Couples and Family Relationships (co-edited with Pat Noller) and Adult Attachment: A Concise Introduction to Theory and Research (co-authored with Omri Gillath and R. Chris Fraley). Gery has received training and collaborated with some of the world’s leading experts and pioneers in adult attachment including: Professor Phillip Shaver (University of California, Davis), Professor Jeffry Simpson (University of Minnesota), and Professor Pat Noller and Associate Professor Judith Feeney (University of Queensland). His research activities into adult attachment and relationships more generally have been funded by grants from the Australian Research Council, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, the National Medical Health and Research Council and beyond blue, totalling over $5 million. Gery writes for the Conversation and Psychology Today, and his articles have received over 1.5 million reads and regularly contacted by the media to discuss all matters on relationships. He is also the founder of relationshipscienceonline.com, a website that curates and delivers the science of relationships to target the needs of relationship counsellors and the general public.

Why Schema Therapy?

Schema therapy has been extensively researched to effectively treat a wide variety of typically treatment resistant conditions, including Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Read our summary of the latest research comparing the dramatic results of schema therapy compared to other standard models of psychotherapy.

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