One important transdiagnostic mechanism linked to the emergence and maintenance of anxiety and depression is repetitive thinking. Repetitive thoughts on the past might be referred to as “rumination,” and repetitive thoughts about the future as “worry.” For some mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, repetitive thought may be a maintenance factors.
According to Watkins (2008), rumination is the act of thinking negatively about oneself, feelings, personal worries, and traumatic situations repeatedly, for an extended period of time. While worry and rumination can both be helpful in the short run, when they become routine, they frequently turn into maladaptive behaviors.
According to Response Styles Theory (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991), depressive rumination is defined as ruminating about the signs, situations, meanings, implications, and outcomes of depression and distress repeatedly.
A recently developed form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that specifically targets recurrent negative thoughts (RNT) is called rumination-focused CBT (RFCBT).
RFCBT focuses on how thoughts and actions serve a purpose and are useful. Through the use of behavioral tests, experiential methods, and imagery, RFCBT seeks to change a person’s processing style from one that is unhelpful to one that is helpful. Numerous recent studies’ findings demonstrated a significant decrease in worry, anxiety, and rumination following RFCBT psychotherapy.
In fact, the idea of repetitive thinking that distinguishes between a functional and a dysfunctional way of thinking is the foundation of RFCBT. While the unhelpful style is abstract and judgmental and does not result in problem solving (rumination), the helpful style is defined by being concrete and specific.
Rumination is defined in RFCBT as an automatic behavior that is upheld by negative reinforcement and governed by the principles of behavioural psychology.
By contemplating problems instead of facing them head-on in the real world, rumination may be used as a kind of avoidance that lowers the likelihood of failure and unfavorable results. Thus, avoidance and escape can serve to increase ruminating. RFCBT is based on functional assessments of the target behavior, rumination, and the integration of new tactics with behavioural activation techniques to promote concrete, process-focused, and targeted thinking. It is based on behavioural psychology and research. Unlike normal CBT, which focuses on changing the content of thoughts and dysfunctional schemas, RFCBT focuses on changing the method of thinking.
On the other hand, Hayes et al. (2011) emphasize the significance of human language and cognition in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Consequently, it places a strong emphasis on the attentive acceptance of thoughts, feelings, and symptoms through experiential activities meant to promote cognitive defusion; as a result, symptom reduction is seen as attainable but not necessary. RFCBT, in contrast to ACT, adopts a more direct approach to treating depressed rumination, with the main goal of treatment being a change in thinking patterns from maladaptive to adaptive.