Background: Research suggests that in-session emotional experiences in psychotherapy promote both session and treatment outcomes across different clinical samples and treatment approaches. However, little is known about how this notion applies to clients with schizophrenia, who experience particular deficits related to emotional experience. To explore this question, we investigated the association between clients' emotional experience and their session outcome evaluations and metacognitive growth in a metacognitively-oriented treatment, Metacognitive Reflection and Insight Therapy (MERIT). MERIT is a recovery-oriented treatment approach for psychosis that focuses on recapturing a coherent sense of self and personal agency by enhancing metacognitive capacity. Method: Five-hundred-and-sixty-three sessions of 37 clients with schizophrenia who took part in an ongoing MERIT trial were analyzed. The Emotional Experience Self-Report (EE-SR) and Outcome Rating Scale (ORS) were collected on a session-by-session basis. Levels of metacognition ware assessed pre- and post-treatment using the Metacognitive Assessment Scale-Abbreviated (MAS-A) coding system. We used multilevel modeling to test our session-level predictions, and linear regression analysis for treatment-level predictions. Results: Greater emotional experience, expression, and regulation within a session were associated with better session outcome. Regarding treatment level, greater emotional experience was associated with improvement in metacognitive mastery. Conclusions: Our findings reveal that experiencing emotions in MERIT has significant implications for clients' subjective well-being during therapy sessions and for their ability to respond to psychological challenges using metacognitive knowledge. These findings lend weight to the idea that emotional experience is a key mechanism of change in metacognitive therapy for schizophrenia.
Publisher Copyright:© 2022