Metacognitive Therapy Versus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:A Network Approach.

Research paper by Sverre Urnes SU Johnson, Asle A Hoffart

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: Frontiers in psychology


A network perspective on mental problems represents a new alternative to the latent variable perspective. Diagnoses are assumed to refer to a causal network of observable mental problems or symptoms (observables). The observable symptoms that traditionally have been considered indicators of latent traits (disorders) are taken to be directly related causal entities. Few studies have investigated how different therapies affect a network-structure of symptoms and processes. In this study, three anxiety symptoms, three depression symptoms and mechanisms in the form of cognitions, metacognitions, worry and threat monitoring were selected. The network structure over the course of therapy for metacognitive therapy (MCT) and Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was investigated. It was hypothesized that worry, attention, and metacognition would be important nodes in MCT and that cognitions would be important in CBT. The data used in the analysis are from a RCT where 74 patients with comorbid anxiety disorders were randomized to either transdiagnostic MCT or disorder-specific CBT. Symptoms and mechanisms were measured every week. The data was analyzed using the multilevel vector autoregressive (mlVAR) model, which is currently the most developed method to analyze multivariate time series in multiple subjects and construct networks. The results indicate that there were different networks of symptoms and mechanisms in MCT and CBT. Central nodes in both treatments are worry and attention, however, the node of negative metacognitive beliefs about uncontrollability was more central in the MCT treatment. The results are consistent with predictions from the S-REF model.