Metacognitive Therapy & Attention Training Therapy

beetlemaniac

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I'm excited to share this with you, especially members who are having issues with focus, anxious thoughts, rumination, depressive thinking, disruptive thoughts, persistent thoughts, negative thought loops, and other persistent and unremitting types of mental phenomena that can be related to PTSD.

Metacognitive Therapy approaches psychological therapy from the point of view of thinking about thinking. This is in contrast to CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) which focuses on the content of the thoughts, and interrogating them to lessen their hold over someone's psyche by rational analysis.

This article gives a brief rundown of the therapy:
Okay, but what is it?
Metacognitive essentially means “thinking about thinking”. The theory is that we have a set of beliefs about the way we think, and that these beliefs are incorrect.

For example, we have positive beliefs about worry:
  • “Worrying keeps me safe”
  • “It is useful to focus my attention on threat monitoring”
And we have negative beliefs about our thinking:
  • “I cannot change”
  • “I have no control over my thoughts”
  • “I could damage my mind by worrying”
The problem with these beliefs is that when we believe that worrying keeps us safe and that we cannot change the way we think, even if this is only subconscious, we are unlikely to make a positive change.

Therefore, the idea of metacognitive therapy is to challenge these “meta” beliefs. If we can reduce our subconscious beliefs that we need worry, or that we cannot get rid of worrying, we will be more motivated and find it easier to tackle the worries themselves.

How does it compare to CBT?
Metacognitive therapy (MCT) is another layer up from cognitive behavioural therapy. In CBT, we are dealing with thinking. In MCT, we are dealing with thinking about thinking.

Let’s illustrate this with an example.

Imagine you have social anxiety and you do not like going to parties because you are worried that you will do something embarrassing and humiliate yourself.

In CBT, we would challenge the thought. We would ask ourselves “what are the chances this will actually happen” and “are the consequences as bad as I imagine?” When we challenge the thought, we realise that the chances of it happening are low and that even if it did happen, the social consequences would not be that bad: people would laugh at us but then forget about it.

In MCT, we are a step removed from this. We don’t even give the thought attention. Rather than challenging the thought itself, we challenge the process that leads to the thought. For example, we could say to ourselves:

“Worrying about this does not make it less likely to happen, so I am not going to spend the time worrying.”

Or:

“I have already spent time worrying about this. I have no new information, so further worrying will not be productive and will only make me unhappy.”

This process of refusing to engage with the thought is called detached mindfulness. Like any therapy technique, it takes practice and repetition to see the benefit.

What do the exercises involve?
Much like CBT, MCT comes with homework. There are various exercises that help us challenge our invalid beliefs. Each one is designed to challenge a specific belief, either positive or negative.

An example is attention training technique. This is an exercise designed to challenge the belief that “I have no control over my thoughts”.

In the exercise, you are given a series of sounds to focus your attention on. You then switch your attention between the different sounds as instructed. The idea is that you demonstrate to yourself that you can control your attention, and that you therefore have control over your thoughts.

In this aspect, MCT is similar to mindfulness. Many mindfulness-based exercises have you focus your attention in different stimulus or different areas of the body. And, in both cases, the exercise is not designed to suppress anxious or negative thoughts. Rather, you should allow the thoughts to enter your mind but refuse to engage with them.
Attention Training Therapy is really the veritable gem of this system. It involves the following:

Shift of Focus From Symptoms and Traumas
Attention training therapy (ATT) is a part of metacognitive therapy (MCT) developed by Adrian Wells, professor of clinical psychology, University of Manchester. The therapist tells the client that their disorder is maintained by dwelling on symptoms and other negative aspects of their lives.

They are advised as part of the Attention Training Therapy to let go of their focus on symptoms and traumas. When symptoms and traumas arise during the ATT, they are to consider these symptoms and traumas as just another background noise and not to give them undue attention and become distracted.

You may have read the books on cognitive therapy by Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck and listened to the tapes or mp3s by these authors. Yet, when the negative stimulus arrives, as it inevitably will, you react with the same anxiety, fear, and anger in a way you have reacted most of your life.

Neurons that Fire Together Wire Together
That proverbial phrase has been discovered at the molecular level. Molecules develop simple axonal synaptic algorithms that are codes and specifications. All is readied for the mechanism to set these algorithmic rules in motion. The tracks are laid down as an infant, toddler, child. Someone says something you take as a slight. Your spouse ignores you; never listens. You lash out as you have lashed out and you feel more the victim, powerless to change your gut reactions and behavior.

Stuck with the Symptoms and Traumas
All the kings horses, all the king’s men, cannot put Humpty Dumpty together again.”

As you watch or just listen to the video, should unpleasant feelings, thoughts, and memories arise, consider them as you would just another one of the sounds presented. ATT helps suspend your response to worry, rumination, or giving attention to threat. The exercises will help you to attain flexible control over rumination and focusing on threat that worsens depression and anxiety, causing a runaway cycle of rumination.

The purpose of Attention Training Therapy ( ATT ) is not to create a blank mind free from thoughts. The mind is full of thoughts, worries, and concerns. That is what the brain does. It is a perpetual thinking machine. ATT is a form of mindfulness meditation where you make no effort to shut out thoughts. Just be aware of them and carry on with the instructed focus of the exercise. Instead of the breath as in mindfulness meditation, you return to a focus on the sounds and visuals.

You will get better at these exercises and apply them to life situations. ATT is mental flexibility training. Your mind needs fitness training as much as your body needs to keep in flexible shape.

Wells’ 7-Point Rating Scale
Adrian Wells developed a 7-point rating scale to use as an index of the effectiveness of ATT. The Scale is a line with markings from -3 to +3. Wells asks, “At this moment in time how much is your attention focused on yourself or on your external environment? Please indicate by giving me a number on the scale.”

–3 –2 –1 0 +1 +2 +3

Entirely externally focused Equal amounts Entirely Self-Focused

Before you begin the video (if you haven’t already watched it ), rate your self-focus on a scale from -3 (entirely externally focused) to +3 (entirely self-focused)

Throughout the ATT exercise, focus visual attention on the images or close your eyes, listen, and create your own ambiance.

After you complete the exercise, you can rate yourself again. Or you can wait until you have gone through a few of these ATT videos a number of times.

This Youtube video and a series I will be presenting will help you gain flexible control over worry and ruminating on problems. The videos are mental fitness training for flexible mind control.

My personal take on this is that it is extremely effective. I had immediate results upon watching the video and following the instructions. The difference was like a turning a lightbulb on, but the focus seems primarily on training the attention towards auditory stimuli from the environment.

After listening to the video, I went out for dinner with my family. A normally tense situation had turned out to be a pleasant one. I applied the principles of focusing on the environmental sounds in general which was mainly the sounds of people in the restaurant (it was quite noisy) and the music being played. I could have also focused on the sound of cutlery which I did not at the time.

I also had the thought that, could this be related to what the C's have said about the antennae in our proteins of our cells? The session where this was mentioned is below:

Session 18 May 2019

A: We once pointed out that mass human behavior was a reflection of cosmic conditions. Now is the time when all must be extra vigilant. We also pointed out that STS forces are fully aware of prophetic patterns and will change and twist in order to discourage and put those to sleep who are slack in vigilance. Note the human environment and try to imagine what it represents above!!!

Q: (Joe) Well, what's the human environment doing?

(L) It's just going nuts!

(Joe) And what does that represent above?

(Pierre) Chaos.

(Andromeda) Nuts! BIG nuts!

(PoB) Cosmic nuts!

(L) Well, at the present time, it's like...

(Artemis) I think they want to say more.

A: It is like the story of the wise and foolish virgins which we have mentioned. Another parallel would be the story of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Who will be found sleeping?

Q: (L) Well... So what is the important take home message here?

A: Consider the relationship between the previously discussed protein antennae and your reality. That determines who you are and what you see.

Q: (Pierre) Does it mean that in those times of chaos, higher density STS beings are busy beaming human beings and...

A: No. It means that one should be concerned with aligning the antennae to cosmic purposes.

Q: (L) So...

(Joe) The previous answer was that twisting and distorting prophetic...

A: There is a match between future and present frequency.

Q: (L) So, you're saying that we should be concerned about our antennae and stuff now because that is our present frequency, and that is what determines our future. We should be aligning that present frequency with cosmic purposes in order for that future outcome to be desirable?

A: Yes

Q: (Artemis) In a way, we are what we will be. So that means we must be now what we will be then.

(L) Okay, so that leads to my question.

(Andromeda) All roads... [laughter] ...lead to the question!

(L) What kinds of practices, thinking, behavior, or whatever actually assist us in our lives to stay safe from hyperdimensional manipulation or harm that can hurt our frequency or muddy things up? For example, I wrote down here what the Catholics do: prayer, confession, sacraments, therapeutic rituals, blessing of objects, occasional exorcisms, that sort of thing. That's what they do to keep their flock safe. They prescribe seven sacraments and all that kind of stuff. We know that's not necessarily the precise cup of tea that does the entire job, but it’s not bad, and certainly they were onto something with some of that. I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bath water here. So, what I want to know is what are good, beneficial, protective practices?

A: You have made a thoughtful list so please read it!

Q: (L) Well, alright... I've made a list. To protect oneself against hyperdimensional manipulations and harm, I'd say one of the primary things is to avoid dissociating.

A: Yes.

Q: (Artemis) And don't feed negative thought loops.

(L) Yeah, if you're dissociating, number one is you're in a fantasy, which is not paying attention to reality. Number two, you're having negative thoughts and getting into negative thought loops. That seems to me to be one of the most important. Am I right on that?

A: Indeed!
Would this be a very simple and practical way of tuning our antennae to objective reality, simply by tuning into the sounds in our environment? I found it easy to know what to say in the context of the above situation, when I would normally be caught in rumination or negative thought loops, not knowing what to say or what to do. I started having ideas about what to say in conversation with my brother & father just pop up in my head, and it felt strange to have those thoughts. It seemed like they were "not me", but I took the leap and spoke them out loud anyway. That made all the difference, and it was like night and day - I became myself, so to speak!

I am curious to see if my experience could be replicable and whether this could be of help for others who are facing similar issues.

This page has another ATT video:

 
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