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An examination of the theoretical pathways proposed by Young's schema therapy model in relation to social anxiety
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 11:32 authored by Kathleen Mairet
Despite the wide-spread clinical use of schema therapy to treat various disorders, including chronic anxiety, limited research has examined the pathways theorised by Young’s schema model or its viability when treating individuals with social anxiety and social anxiety disorder (SAD). This thesis therefore presents four papers designed to assess the roles of culture, negative parenting practices, temperament, coping styles and the unconscious processing of threatening information in the aetiology of early maladaptive schemas (EMS) and social anxiety. The first study revealed that Chinese (n = 118), Chinese-Australian (n = 120) and Australian (n = 163) students experiencing higher social anxiety symptomatology display higher levels of EMS from Young’s (1999) schema theory related to domain 1: Disconnection and Rejection as well as domain 2: Impaired Autonomy and Performance. Using the same samples, the second study identified EMS as potential partial mediators of the relationship between perceived negative parenting practices (i.e. rejecting and overprotective parenting) and social anxiety, although important cross-cultural differences were identified. The results of the third study involving 360 Australian students indicated that temperament may influence the type of coping style/s some individuals adopt, with more introverted individuals utilising more avoidant strategies, while neuroticism appears to have a stronger relationship with Disconnection and Rejection schemas than coping styles such as avoidance or overcompensation. Finally, the results of the fourth study involving 89 Australian students revealed that there were no significant differences in state social anxiety when comparing groups who received a subliminal Disconnection and Rejection (“Mummy does not love me”), counter-schematic (“Mummy does love me”) or neutral (“Mummy is walking”) cue, however there was a trend in the predicted direction when examining a group who scored high on the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS). The role of avoidance was also explored given its relationship with social anxiety. The implications of the findings from each study for both schema therapy theory and treatment concerning social anxiety and SAD are discussed, along with directions for future research.