Metacognitive training for depression (D-MCT) is a new program for the treatment of depression. It is conceptualized as a variant of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that uses a metacognitive perspective to focus on the modification of dysfunctional beliefs. The training seeks to enable group members to recognize and correct the often automatic and unconscious thought patterns that accompany depression, in part by viewing their depressive thought process at a distance (i.e., depersonalizing). To this end, D-MCT teaches participants about depressive thought patterns using creative and engaging strategies along with practical, clear examples from daily life. It also targets dysfunctional assumptions about one’s thought processes as well as dysfunctional coping strategies (i.e., thought suppression, rumination as problem-solving).While the training was inspired by Metacognitive Training (MCT) for Psychosis, it focuses on different depression-specific cognitive biases.

The feasibility and effectiveness of a beta version of the training were confirmed in an open-label pilot study (Jelinek, Otte, Arlt, & Hauschildt, 2013). The training proved to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms with a medium effect size (Cohen’s d between 0.56 and 0.73). Moreover, cognitive biases and rumination were significantly reduced and self-esteem was increased (effect sizes between d = 0.26 and 0.64).

We used our experience from the pilot study to improve the training material. The updated version was compared to health-training (walking) in a randomized control trial (funded by the vffr). All patients also received a standard psychosomatic outpatient treatment program at the RehaCentrum Hamburg. At the end of the treatment, as well as 6 months later at follow-up, symptom improvement was greater in the D-MCT versus health-training group (Jelinek et al., 2016).

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Core members

  • Prof. Dr. Lena Jelinek
  • Dr. Marit Hauschildt
  • Dr. Brooke Schneider
  • Dr. Judith Peth
  • Prof. Dr. Steffen Moritz

Cooperation partners

  • PD Dr. Sönke Arlt (Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hamburg)
  • Dr. Anne Runde (Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hamburg)
  • Irmgard Musyal (RehaCentrum Hamburg, Hamburg)
  • Dr. Gabriela Kuhn (RehaCentrum Hamburg, Hamburg)
  • Dipl.-Psych. Mirja Behrens (RehaCentrum Hamburg, Hamburg)
  • Dipl.-Psych. Mario Broccucci (RehaCentrum Hamburg, Hamburg)
  • Dr. Sandra Leh-Seal (Praxis für Neuropsychologie & Entwicklungsförderung (NEF), Meilen, Zürich, Switzerland)
  • Prof. Dr. Christian Otte (Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité, Berlin)


Hauschildt, M. & Jelinek, L. (2017). Denkverzerrungen verändern mit Hilfe des Metakognitiven Trainings bei Depression und Zwang. NeuroTransmitter. 1, 44-50

Jelinek, L., Moritz, S., & Hauschildt, M. (2017). Patients’ perspective on treatment with Metacognitive Training for Depression (D-MCT): Results on acceptability. Journal of Affective Disorders. 221, 17-24.

Jelinek, L., Van Quaquebeke, N., & Moritz, S. (2017). Cognitive and metacognitive mechanisms of change in Metacognitive Training for Depression. Scientific Reports. 7, 3449.

Jelinek, L., Hauschildt, M., & Moritz, S. (2015). Metakognitives Training bei Depression. [Metacognitive Training for Depression]. Weinheim, Germany: Beltz.

Jelinek, L., Hauschildt, M., & Moritz, S. (2016). Metakognitives Training bei Depression (D-MKT). [Metacognitive Training for Depression (D-MCT)]. In H. Stavemann, KVT Update. Weinheim, Germany: Beltz, 175-200.

Jelinek, L., Hauschildt, M., Wittekind, C. E., Schneider, B. C., Kriston, L., & Moritz, S. (2016). Efficacy of Metacognitive Training for Depression (D-MCT): A randomized controlled trial. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 85, 231-234. 

Jelinek, L., Kollbeck, K., & Moritz, S. (2016). Metakognitive Trainings (MKT) in der Psychiatrie am Beispiel von Psychose und Depression [Use of Metacogntitve training (MCT) in Psychiatry: An Example with Psychosis and Depression]. DNP—Der Neurologe und Psychiater (Ausgabe 9/2016).

Jelinek, L., & Moritz, S. (2015). Metakognitives Training bei Depression (D-MKT): Kognitive Verhaltenstherapie und mehr! [Metacognitive training for depression (d-mct). Cognitive behavioral therapy and more!] InFo Neurologie & Psychiatrie, 17, 38-44.

Jelinek, L., Otte, C., Arlt, S., & Hauschildt, M. (2013). Denkverzerrungen erkennen und korrigieren: Eine Machbarkeitsstudie zum Metakognitiven Training bei Depressionen (D-MKT) [Detecting and altering cognitive biases: a feasibility study on metacognitive training for depression (d-mct)]. Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie, Psychologie und Psychotherapie, 61(4), 1–8.

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