Metacognitive Therapy For OCD : Techniques and Benefits of It

Metacognitive Therapy For OCD : Techniques and Benefits of It

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental illness that can be debilitating and cause tremendous stress and anxiety. It encompasses intrusive thoughts, extreme worry, and repetitive behaviors. Though there are many different treatment options for OCD, one of the most effective is Metacognitive Therapy (MCT). MCT is relatively new but has already proven to be a successful approach to treating OCD. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what MCT is, how it works, and its benefits for those suffering from OCD. We’ll also outline the steps involved in MCT so you can better understand how it can help you or a loved one overcome the crippling effects of OCD.

What is OCD?

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, images, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessional thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. Not performing obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety. A person with OCD may also have depression, eating disorders, substance abuse problems, or other anxiety disorders.

What is Metacognitive Therapy?

Metacognitive therapy (MCT) is a type of psychological therapy that focuses on changing an individual’s thinking patterns and beliefs about their abilities to treat OCD. MCT aims to help people with OCD become less afraid of their thoughts and better able to control their behavior.

MCT was developed by psychologist Adrian Wells in the early 1990s. It is based on the idea that people with OCD are overly focused on their thoughts and emotions, and that this focus can lead to anxiety and distress. MCT aims to help people with OCD learn to control their attention and focus on more positive aspects of their lives.

It is an effective treatment for OCD, with studies showing that it can reduce OCD symptoms by up to 50%. MCT typically consists of 10-12 weekly sessions, although some people may need more or fewer sessions depending on the severity of their condition.

How Does Metacognitive Therapy Work For OCD?

The working of Metacognitive Therapy (MCT) for OCD is based on the basic principle that it relieves symptoms of the disorder by reshaping thoughts and emotions. It teaches individuals to challenge their negative thinking patterns, which in turn helps them realize that they can control their OCD responses.

In Metacognitive Therapy (MCT), individuals are taught to identify and respond to their thoughts and emotions more healthily. MCT encourages individuals to challenge irrational beliefs, evaluate and test evidence for the fears that drive OCD, recognize distorted thinking patterns (such as black-and-white thinking or catastrophizing) and actively dispute them.

The therapist uses cognitive techniques, such as cognitive restructuring and challenging negative automatic thoughts (NATs), to help the person become aware of his/her underlying schemas and modify them. The therapist also helps the individual break down tasks into smaller steps so they can be accomplished without fear or anxiety. In addition, relaxation techniques are used to reduce physical symptoms associated with OCD.

To effectively manage OCD symptoms using Metacognitive Therapy (MCT), individuals need to remain consistent and engage in the techniques offered by their therapist. This includes not only therapy sessions but also outside activities, such as exposing oneself to anxiety-provoking situations (exposure and response prevention).

The ultimate goal of Metacognitive Therapy (MCT) is for individuals to become more self-aware of their thoughts and feelings, recognize patterns of behavior that fuel OCD symptoms, and learn cognitive strategies to replace them with healthier ones. In this way, MCT can help individuals gain control over their OCD responses and lead a life free from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Techniques of Metacognitive Therapy For OCD

Techniques of Metacognitive Therapy For OCD

Some of the techniques used in metacognitive therapy for OCD include:

Cognitive Reappraisal

This technique involves recognizing and reframing unhelpful automatic thoughts to create a more balanced perspective. Patients learn to identify and challenge the distorted beliefs that fuel their anxious thoughts, thereby allowing them to re-evaluate their thinking and ultimately reduce anxiety.

Exposure Response Prevention (ERP)

ERP is a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique used to treat OCD by gradually exposing patients to their feared situations while simultaneously teaching them how to manage their responses. This process helps individuals confront irrational fears, gain greater control over intrusive thoughts, and ultimately establish healthier ways of responding.

Mindfulness Training

Mindfulness training teaches patients how to observe their thought patterns without judgment or criticism. Patients learn how to recognize anxious thoughts and accept them without reacting. This can help patients to become less reactive to the intrusive thoughts associated with OCD and gain better control over their reactions.

Cognitive Restructuring

This technique involves identifying irrational or unhelpful beliefs, challenging them, and replacing them with more realistic ones. By reframing obsessive rumination into helpful problem-solving, patients can re-evaluate their way of thinking to reduce anxiety levels.

Relaxation Training

Relaxation training is used to promote relaxation by teaching individuals how to calm down their body and mind when facing a stressful situation. Techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can be effective in helping individuals manage stress responses. Some people also take online stress counseling for managing stress.

These techniques, when used in conjunction with each other, can help to reduce the symptoms of OCD and ultimately lead to a more balanced life. With proper support and guidance, individuals can learn how to manage their OCD by using these tools.

Benefits of Metacognitive Therapy For OCD

Benefits of Metacognitive Therapy For OCD

The benefits of metacognitive therapy for OCD include:

Reducing symptoms of OCD and associated distress

One of the most significant benefits of this form of therapy is the ability to reduce symptoms of OCD and associated distress. By using cognitive-behavioral techniques, individuals can gain better control over their intrusive thoughts, learn how to manage their anxiety more productively, and ultimately improve their overall quality of life.

Practical skills for managing OCD

Another benefit of metacognitive therapy for OCD is that it can provide individuals with practical skills for managing their disorder. With guidance from a trained therapist, patients can learn strategies on how to recognize anxious thought patterns and challenge them to create healthier ways of responding. This knowledge can empower individuals to take control of their recovery process.

Reduced need for medication

Metacognitive therapy can help to reduce the need for medication in some cases. By teaching patients how to effectively manage their symptoms, they can learn to better cope with their OCD and reduce reliance on medications.

Improved self-esteem

By learning how to identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and beliefs, individuals may experience an improved sense of self-worth. This can lead to a greater appreciation of one’s abilities, which can further improve overall well-being.

Cons of Metacognitive Therapy For OCD

The biggest downside of metacognitive therapy for OCD is that it can be difficult to identify and change maladaptive metacognitive beliefs. This can make the process of treatment quite challenging, especially if the individual has difficulty recognizing their thought patterns and making changes to them.

Additionally, this type of therapy may not be suitable for individuals who have severe or very significant symptoms, as it may not be intensive enough to bring about meaningful change.

Some of the other drawbacks associated with this type of therapy include a lack of scientific evidence to back up its effectiveness, the risk of relapses in symptoms, and the potential for certain individuals to become overly reliant on the therapist. Finally, due to the complexity of metacognitive beliefs and their connection to OCD symptoms, the therapy may be more time-consuming than other treatments.

Other potential cons may include difficulty in maintaining the practice of metacognitive therapy, a lack of understanding or motivation to continue with the treatment, and the risk of feeling overwhelmed by the process. All these can lead to frustration and discouragement, which can negatively impact recovery.

Overall, while metacognitive therapy for OCD has some potential benefits, it is important to be aware of its limitations as well. It is best to consult with a mental health professional if you are considering this type of therapy for your OCD symptoms. This will help ensure that you receive an appropriate plan tailored to your individual needs and preferences.


Metacognitive therapy for OCD can be a powerful way to manage symptoms and learn how to better take control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is important, however, that you find qualified mental health professionals who can guide you through this process in a safe, supportive environment. With the right approach, metacognitive therapy can help reduce the intensity of OCD symptoms and provide long-term relief from its effects.

For more information and guidance, please contact OCDMantra. OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions. If you have any queries regarding OCD treatment, experienced  ERP therapy therapists at OCDMantra can help: Book a trial OD therapy session.