Metacognitive training in schizophrenia: from basic research to knowledge translation and intervention


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Abstract

Purpose of reviewThere has been a marked increase in the study of cognitive biases in schizophrenia, which has in part been stimulated by encouraging results with cognitive–behavioral interventions in the disorder. We summarize new evidence on cognitive biases thought to trigger or maintain positive symptoms in schizophrenia and present a new therapeutic intervention.Recent findingsRecent studies indicate that patients with paranoid schizophrenia jump to conclusions, show attributional biases, share a bias against disconfirmatory evidence, are overconfident in errors, and display problems with theory of mind. Many of these biases precede the psychotic episode and may represent cognitive traits. Building upon this literature, we developed a metacognitive training program that aims to convey scientific knowledge on cognitive biases to patients and provides corrective experiences in an engaging and supportive manner. Two new studies provide preliminary evidence for the feasibility and efficacy of this approach.SummaryThe gap between our advanced understanding of cognitive processes in schizophrenia and its application in clinical treatment is increasingly being narrowed. Despite emerging evidence for the feasibility and efficacy of metacognitive training as a stand-alone program, its most powerful application may be in combination with individual cognitive–behavioral therapy.

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