The experimental group was further advised that those thoughts would result in the discharge of a loud noise. Findings show that participants in the experimental condition had a greater number of intrusive thoughts about drinking and more discomfort from the thoughts, and they made more of an effort to control the intrusive thoughts.

“The results suggest that metacognitive beliefs about the power, meaning and danger of thoughts — in other words, thought-fusion beliefs — may be causally linked to obsessive-compulsive symptoms,” Samuel Myers, PhD, a professor at Hadassah University Hospital in Israel who also co-authored his study with Wells, explained to Psychiatry Advisor.


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Metacognitive therapy may even have value in treating schizophrenia spectrum disorders, according to findings of a small experiment published last year in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.4 The researchers found that, for half of the participants, twelve sessions of MCT led to a decrease in symptoms of at least 25%, as assessed by the Positive and Negative Syndromes Scale.

Beliefs about thoughts may be an important, often overlooked focus of treatment for many disorders. In addition to addressing dysfunctional thoughts, therapists should also explore a patient’s beliefs about those thoughts, as they could have a critical influence on maladaptive thought patterns.

Tori Rodriguez, MA, LPC, is a psychotherapist and freelancer writer based in Atlanta.

References

  1. Normann N, et al. The efficacy of metacognitive therapy for anxiety and depression: a meta-analytic review. Depress Anxiety. 2014; 31(5): 402-11.
  2. Hasegawa A. Effects of training focused on actively controlling aspects of depressive rumination in high ruminative undergraduate students: Preliminary data. Japanese Journal of Personality. 2013; 22(1): 48-60.
  3. Myers SG and Wells A. An experimental manipulation of metacognition: A test of the metacognitive model of obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Behavior Research and Therapy. 2013; 51(4-5): 177-84.
  4. Morrison AP, et al. Metacognitive therapy in people with a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis and medication resistant symptoms: A feasibility study. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2014; 45(2): 280-4.
  5. Bailey R and Wells A. Does Metacognition Make a Unique Contribution to Health Anxiety When Controlling for Neuroticism, Illness Cognition, and Somatosensory Amplification? J Cogn Psychother. 2013; 27 (4): 327-337.
  6. Smith KE and Hudson JL. Metacognitive Beliefs and Processes in Clinical Anxiety in Children. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2013; 42(5): 590-602.