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28-03-2020 | Review | Uitgave 4/2020

Cognitive Therapy and Research 4/2020

The Relationships Between Early Maladaptive Schemas and Youth Mental Health: A Systematic Review

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 4/2020
Annemarie Nicol, Anita S. Mak, Kristen Murray, Iain Walker, Dean Buckmaster
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Although early maladaptive schemas (EMS) have been strongly associated with psychopathology in adults, this association is less clear in young people since schemas are still emerging. This systematic review examines the relationship between EMS and psychopathology in young people to assess the degree to which EMS discriminate between psychopathologies, consistent with the cognitive content specificity hypothesis.


PsycINFO, MEDLINE, PsycARTICLES, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, CINAHL Plus, Web of Science, and Scopus databases were systematically searched.


Fifty-eight studies were identified for inclusion, with 24,005 participants across all studies. We found evidence of the relationship between EMS and psychopathology in young people. EMS were found to discriminate between depression, anxiety, eating pathology, borderline symptomology, and externalizing behaviors.


Findings are discussed in the context of treatment approaches for psychopathology in youth, specifically through an increased understanding of the role of EMS in this developmental period. We also suggest future research directions and discuss the methodological limitations of the studies reviewed, including a bias towards community samples, and a lack of consistency in EMS measures. These findings suggest that EMS may be an important area to target when treating youth presenting with psychological distress.

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