A qualitative evaluation of the effects of Metacognitive Reflection and Insight Therapy: 'Living more consciously'

Steven de Jong*, Ilanit Hasson-Ohayon, Rozanne van Donkersgoed, André Aleman, Gerdina Hendrika Maria Pijnenborg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
276 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives Extensive research showed that one of the major difficulties that people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders are struggling with involves their ability to reflect on their own and others' mental activities, also defined as metacognition. Several new psychotherapies have been developed to assist patients (re)gain metacognitive capacity, including Metacognitive Reflection and Insight Therapy (MERIT). The current study investigated the client's subjective experience of psychotherapy, to determine whether service users found MERIT effective and whether these gains align with quantitative findings, which processes they considered responsible for these benefits, in which ways participants found MERIT similar or different from other interventions, and whether they experienced non-desirable factors and outcomes.

Design All participants who had participated in a randomized controlled trial investigating the efficacy of MERIT were offered a structured post-therapy interview by an independent assessor. Fourteen out of 18 (77%) participants, all of whom had completed therapy, responded.

Results Most participants (10/14) indicated that they had experienced the therapy as beneficial to their recovery, and in general contributed to their understanding of their own thinking, which maps closely onto the quantitative findings reported elsewhere. They mainly attributed these changes to their own active role in therapy, the intervention letting them vent and self-express, and forming an alliance with the therapist.

Conclusions Participants reports of change map closely onto the quantitative findings from the randomized controlled trial. Findings are discussed in the frameworks of the metacognitive model of psychosis and the integrative intersubjective model of psychotherapy for psychosis emphasizing the role of the clients as active agent of change.

Practitioner points

The use of a systematic, qualitative interview at the conclusion of therapy may yield important information regarding process and outcome.

Analysis of the interview revealed that clients' perceptions regarding change within themselves closely maps onto quantitative findings.

MERIT may not be the appropriate intervention for all clients; some may prefer a more solution-oriented approach such as CBTp or Metacognition-Oriented Social Skills training.

Self-expressing with a trained clinician may be therapeutic in itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-240
Number of pages18
JournalPsychology and psychotherapy-Theory research and practice
Issue number2
Early online date12-Dec-2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2020


  • intersubjectivity
  • metacognition
  • psychosis
  • psychotherapy
  • subjective experience

Cite this