Changing embodied relational patterns in metacognitive interpersonal therapy

Antonella Centonze, Felix Inchausti*, Angus Macbeth, Raffaele Popolo, Giancarlo Dimaggio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individuals with personality disorders tend to attribute meaning according to stereotyped relationship patterns which prevent them from achieving social adaptation and fulfilment. These mental patterns are more than mere cognitive representations of the self and others. They are embodied and laden with affect, behavioral dispositions, and somatic experiences. The main purpose of this work is to present how metacognitive interpersonal therapy provides a platform for changing embodied patterns, via imagery and sensorimotor work. As discussed, these techniques facilitate the correction of the embodied component of maladaptive patterns and promote the emergence of new and healthier patterns. These new patterns comprise more adaptive aspects and correspondingly impede the enactment of previous maladaptive coping strategies that were driven by pathological schemas. We note how experiential work is best performed in a context of constant regulation of the therapeutic relationship, in order to detect any possible relational impasses and ruptures, reflecting on them until they are repaired. We also show the use of techniques in the initial phase of therapy to allow a more dynamic and rich case formulation. Finally, we discuss the implications of how experiential work might be a crucial component in psychotherapy for persons experiencing severe interpersonal problems such as personality disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-32
Number of pages12
JournalPapeles del Psicologo
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2021


  • embodied cognition
  • metacognitive interpersonal therapy
  • personality disorders
  • psychotherapy
  • experiential techniques


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