Harvard Mental Health Letter

Ask the doctor: What is metacognitive therapy?

Q. My husband has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Someone suggested that metacognitive therapy might help him become better organized. What is that?

A. Metacognitive therapy is sometimes described as a type of therapy that involves changing how people think rather than what they are thinking about. In this way, metacognitive therapy is distinct from cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses more on the content of people's thoughts.

Two psychologists, Dr. Adrian Wells of the University of Manchester and Dr. Gerald Matthews of the University of Cincinnati, developed the theory underlying metacognitive therapy in the early 1990s. Initially intended only for patients with generalized anxiety disorder, metacognitive therapy has since been adapted for use in treating a variety of mental health problems.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »