Metacognitive interpersonal therapy in group: A feasibility study

Raffaele Popolo, Angus Macbeth, Stefano Brunello, Flaviano Canfora, Ercan Ozdemir, Daniela Rebecchi, Cecilia Toselli, Gloria Venturelli, Giampaolo Salvatore, Giancarlo Dimaggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients with personality disorders (PDs) other than borderline, with prominent features of social inhibition and over-regulation of emotions, are in need of specialized treatments. Individuals present with poor metacognition, that is the capacity to understand mental states and use psychological knowledge for the sake of purposeful problem solving; and are guided by maladaptive interpersonal schemas. We developed a short-term group intervention, Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy in Groups (MIT-G), incorporating psychoeducational and experiential elements, to help these individuals become more aware of their drives when interacting with others; and to help them adopt more flexible behaviors via improvements in metacognition. We present results of an effectiveness study, evaluating whether we could replicate the initial positive results of our first pilot randomized controlled trial. Seventeen young adults outpatients with personality disorders were included in the 16 session program. Effect sizes were calculated for change from baseline to treatment end for the primary outcome, symptoms and functioning (Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation Outcome Measure) and then for one putative mechanism of change – metacognition. Emotional dysregulation and alexithymia were also assessed. Qualitative evaluations of the acceptability and subjective impact of the treatment were also performed. MIT-G was acceptable to participants. There were medium to large magnitude changes from pre- to post- treatment on wellbeing, emotion dysregulation, alexithymia and metacognition. These gains were maintained at follow-up. There was evidence of clinically significant change on key variables. MIT-G appears acceptable to patients, as evidenced by the absence of drop-out from treatment. In light of the positive outcomes of this study and the expanding evidence base, MIT-G is a candidate for dissemination and investigations in larger trials as a possible effective intervention for PDs characterized by tendencies to overcontrol.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-163
JournalResearch in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2018


  • metacognition
  • group
  • psychotherapy
  • personality disorder
  • effectiveness


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