A preliminary investigation of schematic beliefs and unusual experiences in children.


Background: In cognitive models of adult psychosis, schematic beliefs about the self and others are important vulnerability and maintaining factors, and are therefore targets for psychological interventions. Schematic beliefs have not previously been investigated in children with distressing unusual, or psychotic-like, experiences (UEDs). The aim of this study was firstly to investigate whether a measure of schematic beliefs, originally designed for adults with psychosis, was suitable for children; and secondly, to examine the association of childhood schematic beliefs with internalising and externalising problems and with UEDs. Method: Sixty-seven children aged 8-14 years, with emotional and behavioural difficulties, completed measures of UEDs, internalising (depression and anxiety), and externalising (conduct and hyperactivity-inattention) problems, together with the Brief Core Schema Scales (BCSS). Results: The BCSS was readily completed by participants, and scale psychometric properties were good. Children tended to view themselves and others positively. Internalising and externalising problems and UEDs were all associated with negative schematic beliefs; effect sizes were small to medium. Conclusions: Schematic beliefs in young people can be measured using the BCSS, and negative schematic beliefs are associated with childhood psychopathology and with UEDs. Schematic beliefs may therefore form a useful target in psychological interventions for young people with UEDs.