I practice metacognitive therapy everyday in a private practice for a range of psychological disorders. I have been doing therapy for a total of 8 years now and I have been certified by the Metacognitive Institute™. In a series of posts, I want to share with you some of my experiences with this kind of therapy, and how it works.
If you struggle with going over the same thoughts in your mind over and over again, like there is no ending to I, and like it is a downward spiral, I want to share some helpful ideas with you.
By now, you might be aware that you have been dealing with some of the same thoughts for long period of time, and at the same time, you might find it difficult to stop this thinking pattern.
Perhaps you find yourself worrying about the future or ruminating about past events for hours each day, which may affect your mood and energy level, making it difficult to keep up with everyday tasks.
From my clinical experience, it is possible to break out of unhelpful thinking patterns. It is possible to rediscover how to disengage from thoughts. All kind of thoughts.
In metacognitive therapy, we use different exercises, metaphors and experiments to explore how it is possible to disengage from thoughts, which is a process called detached mindfulness. The idea is that you cannot overcome overthinking by thinking more – only by thinking less. This makes metacognitive therapy different from other therapies that I have practiced (third wave cognitive therapies). In metacognitive therapy, we do not solve thoughts out. Instead, we practice leaving thoughts alone so that the mind gets a bit of rest for its self-healing processes to occur.
My clinical experience is that when you give less importance to some thoughts, they will become less important to you over time. How you respond to your thoughts makes the whole difference between having a hard time and suffering within your own mind.
In metacognitive therapy, we do not go into the content of the thoughts. Instead, we stay at the meta level of processing, e.g. “When you have that thought in your mind: Do you forget about it, or do you try to work it out in your mind?”. Also, “what’s your goal of working that thought out in your mind? What is the result of analyzing that thought?”. We have this kind of metacognitive dialogue (see my post about the meta-level dialogue here) throughout the sessions.
Summing up, you can discover and realize how to think less, i.e. disengage from the thinking process itself. Over time in therapy, you will get more and more convinced that it is also possible for you to disengage from some difficult thoughts; that you can choose to observe your thoughts as passing events in your mind, if you would like to.
This post is the first part of the series “Inside the Mind of a Metacognitive Therapist” that I am going to write. You might want to catch up on the other parts as well.
This post is also published inside my colleague’s article 7 Reasons to Choose Metacognitive Therapy at Metacognitive Therapy Central.