Addressing Formal Thought Disorder in Psychosis through Novel Assessment and Targeted Intervention
Formal thought disorder (FTD) is a debilitating symptom of psychosis. It is linked to functional deficits and generally demonstrates poor response to interventions. Metacognition has emerged as a potential therapeutic target that may be effective in reducing FTD, as metacognitive deficits and FTD both arise from disruptions in associative thought processes. This study’s primary aim was to determine whether FTD could be reduced with metacognitive therapy. Pre-post changes in FTD severity were assessed using clinician-rated and automated measures in 20 individuals with psychotic disorders who received 12 sessions of evidence-based metacognitive therapy. We also examined whether reductions in FTD were larger when assessed with automated instruments versus clinician-rated measures. Aim two compared associations between FTD and three outcome variables (social functioning, role functioning, metacognition) across FTD-measurement approach. Results indicated that automated FTD, but not clinician-rated FTD, was significantly reduced post-intervention. This effect was more robust within a subsample exhibiting greater levels of FTD. Strength of associations between FTD and outcome variables did not differ across FTD measurement approach. These findings provide initial evidence that a targeted metacognitive intervention can reduce FTD. Effects were strongest for automated instruments, which may be more sensitive to detecting change; however, differences in measurement type did not extend to associations with selected outcome variables. This study provides preliminary support for future efforts to reduce FTD. Large-scale studies with longer intervention periods may further our understanding of the effectiveness of metacognitive intervention on FTD.