Mervin Smucker (2015). Stories under the Story

Most of us live by stories, whether or not we are aware of this. For instance, some of us believe the story that if we work hard, we will succeed. Others may believe that they’ve been cheated in life, and therefore life owes them something. Some believe that if they live a life of service and giving to others they will be rewarded in the afterlife. In cognitive therapy, such stories are called underlying assumptions, beliefs, and schemas. These stories can be adaptive or maladaptive, depending on their context and content, and lead to habitual responses to situations. For instance, a person with a “powerlessness” schema deeply believes the story that no matter what they do, they are powerless to change their situation. Effectively working with such persons requires addressing this maladaptive story and helping them to “rescript” it into a story of empowerment.

Mervin Smucker