Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice - Early View Articles, Pages ${blockparams.parentJournalIssue.pageRange}

Metacognitive improvement and symptom change in a 3‐month treatment for borderline personality disorder

Objectives Recognizing and reflecting on one's own and other people's mental states represent a major difficulty for patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Only recently have studies begun exploring whether these capacities increase with successful therapies and if such an improvement is linked with outcome. The present study investigated whether metacognition would improve and if its improvement was related with symptom change in BPD patients. Design The transcripts from the first and the penultimate session of a ten‐session version of good psychiatric management were analysed with the MAS‐R scale in a N = 37 BPD sample. Patients, selected from a previously published RCT (Kramer et al., ), were assigned either to the good psychiatric management treatment or to the same treatment with the addition of the Motive‐Oriented Therapeutic Relationship (Caspar, ), a form of therapeutic relationship based on an individualized case formulation. Symptoms were assessed with the OQ‐45. Results Findings partially support the hypotheses. First, improvement in capacities to understand others’ mind, to take a critical distance from one's own rigid and maladaptive beliefs, and to use behavioural and attentional strategies to face adversities is found in both treatment groups. Controlling for marital status, only the ability to differentiate between reality and representations remains significant. Second, no link between metacognitive change and symptom change during treatment is found. However, a link is observed between the increase in metacognition and symptom reduction at 6‐month follow‐up. Conclusions Results invite to further investigate the role of metacognition in therapy change through different modalities and in longer‐term treatments. Practitioner points The development of metacognitive processes and their links with symptom change were examined during a short‐term treatment in 37 borderline patients Improvement was found in capacities to understand others’ mind, to take a critical distance from own rigid and maladaptive beliefs, and to use behavioural and attentional strategies even in a short‐term treatment Controlling for marital status, only the ability to take a critical distance from representations remained significant A link was observed between increase in metacognition and symptom reduction at 6‐month follow‐up Understanding and tailoring interventions to specific metacognitive difficulties could be associated with symptom change during treatment for BPD patients.

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