Metacognitive Therapy (MCT) is a psychological “talking therapy” for the treatment of mental illness. The goals of MCT are to first discover what patients believe about their own thoughts and how their mind works (called metacognitive beliefs), then show the patient how these beliefs lead to unhelpful responses to thoughts that serve to unintentionally prolong or worsen symptoms, and finally to provide alternative ways of responding to thoughts in order to allow a reduction of symptoms.
MCT is a time-limited therapy
In the metacognitive model, symptoms are caused by a set of psychological processes called the Cognitive Attentional Syndrome (CAS). The CAS includes 3 main processes, each of which constitutes extended thinking in response to negative thoughts. These 3 processes are:
- Threat monitoring.
- Coping behaviours that backfire.
All three are controlled by patients’ metacognitive beliefs, including the belief that such processes will help address their problems (although the processes all ultimately have the unintentional consequence of prolonging distress).