New Therapy Called MCT is More Effective Than CBT in Treating Depression

The metacognitive therapy (MCT), developed by Professor Adrian Wells at the University of Manchester, is a relatively new method for treating mental disorders.

In a recent study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, the new therapy has demonstrated to be more efficient at treating anxiety and depression than the cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, which is currently seen as the ironclad rule by psychologists.

The research is the first full-scale randomized trial of MCT in comparison with CBT.

A More Effective Therapy

The trial was conducted in Copenhagen and showed that CBT led to 52 percent of recovery at the end of treatment, while MCT helped 74 percent of patients to recover. At the six-month follow-up mark, 56 percent of patients receiving CBT recovered, and the figure remained 74 percent in those who were treated using MCT.

The findings could have crucial implications for the treatment of depression, which has remained the same for 40 years already: only around 50 percent of people respond and only a third recover at follow-up, as per the published analyses.

Professor Wells said: “CBT has been the therapy of choice for many years in treating patients with major depression- with varying degrees of success. We don’t know for sure why MCT might be more effective, but it is a method that has a solid scientific basis, grounded in the latest cognitive psychology. We’re very excited about the results.”

He continued: “The focus of the two treatments is different: MCT aims to change basic mental regulation processes that have become biased, whilst CBT aims to modify thought content and is based much more on clinical observation.”

Breaking The Patterns

The patients in the trial received up to 24 sessions of CBT or 24 sessions of MCT, with 174 randomized to either CBT or MCT, and 89 assigned to CBT and 85 to MCT. The treatment was given face to face with trained clinical psychologists. Overall, the average number of sessions was 6.7 for CBT and 5.5 for MCT.

MCT training is delivered by the Metacognitive Therapy Institute UK to health specialists and includes eight two-day workshops mixed with supervision of clinical cases. It takes just as much to train someone in CBT.

Professor Wells added: “We think MCT may cost less than CBT, but no formal analyses have been run on this to date. However, MCT appears to give results more quickly, so fewer sessions may be required. We do think MCT may be easier to use because it has a core set of principles that can be applied to many types of disorders and does not depend on reality-testing of different negative thoughts.”

Rather, MCT helps patients reduce the process of repetitive negative thinking and worrying.

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