What is the Meichenbaum self-study training?

Currently, more and more children and adolescents are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), along with other disorders that make it difficult to maintain attention.

One of the most used treatments in these cases is Meichenbaum self-study training., Also known as cognitive training, and which aims to improve the ability to organize, plan and care.

In this article we will see what this training consists of, what are its phases, objectives and possible applications.

Self-study Meichenbaum training: features

Self-study Meichenbaum training was actually developed by two authors: Donald Meichenbaum himself and Goodman, in 1971. It is a technique that is particularly applied in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). , but also in other disorders or simply in the presence of certain difficulties.

It is generally applied to children and adolescents, although adults can develop the training as well. The goal of this training is to modify the internal dialogue of the person to facilitate the confrontation of a certain task., Situation or problem.

Attention as a cognitive skill

Attention is an essential cognitive skill for learning, because it is what enables us to access knowledge, paying attention to what it tells us.

Once attention is paid, it is easier for us to receive and understand information; then other procedures such as working memory, which allows us to manipulate the information we receive, start to work.

To summarize, attention is very important for the development of other skills, especially at the early learning stage (And at school). That is why it is essential to promote it, and that is why the Meichenbaum self-study training can be a tool to help us.


As the name suggests, this workout includes a key part or element: self-learning. But, what are they exactly?

Also called self-verbalizations, self-instructions are a system that allows you to “talk to yourself”, Which in turn provides a series of guidelines that guide us and help us solve tasks independently.

That is to say that this system makes it possible to internalize a series of steps specific to a task or a process, so that at the end it is no longer necessary to say the instructions aloud. the task to be developed; all this promotes the interiorization of mental processes.

What is this technique used for?

Specifically, Meichenbaum Self-Study Training is a technique focused on improving and enhancing attention, reducing impulsivity and hyperactivity, controlling anger, and improving organizational capacity.

In addition, it also helps to cope with interpersonal difficulties in some cases.


Self-learning Meichenbaum is divided into 5 stages or phases that develop gradually, and where the application of the patient (child or adolescent) is increased, while the participation of the therapist or the adult decreases until it disappears:

1. Modeling

In the first stage of the Meichenbaum self-study training, the therapist or adult acts as a role model by speaking aloud and performing the behavior they are working on (i.e. performing the task in front of the child and talking to himself).

He goes on to say aloud the steps, as well as any doubts that may arise, the possibilities and the strategies used. It would be like “thinking aloud”, and it would involve detailing step by step what you are doing to solve the task or problem.

This behavior or this task can be of any type, and which includes (or not) a series of steps: for example, preparing the school backpack.

2. External guide aloud

In the second phase, the therapist or the adult speaks (giving out the self-instructions for the action) while the child acts (That is, perform the behavior; following the example would be to prepare the backpack).

3. Self-instruction aloud

Here the therapist takes the background, and already the process falls on the child or adolescent, who speaks aloud (self-instruction) while acting. (Develops behavior). In other words, it is the child who develops the task.

The sentences the child will say will be the same as the ones the therapist has said previously. Usually in the self-study training Meichenbaum, and especially in this phase, it will be necessary to help the child, since it is difficult for him to remember everything exactly and in order.

4. Self-instruction in a low voice

In the fourth phase, the child or adolescent speaks whispers while taking action.

5. Secret self-instructions

In the last phase of the Meichenbaum self-study training, the child or adolescent thinks about the instructions (mentally executes them, internally), at the same time as performing the behavior.

At the end of this phase, the child will be able to generate guiding thoughts.


Ultimately, the basic goals of Meichenbaum self-study training include that the child or adolescent performs the tasks conscientiously, that he or she is mentally organized what he or she has to do. at any time (or in certain tasks). And to internalize the relevant mental processes, gradually and step by step.

All this will promote the concentration, organization and planning of the child and will help reduce hyperactivity disorders such as ADHD for example.

Bibliographical references:

  • Cavall, V., Simon, MA (2002). Manual of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Specific disorders. Pyramid: Madrid.

  • Government of Aragon. (2018). Self-study training. Department of Education, University, Culture and Sports.

  • Pérez, M .; Fernandez, JR; Fernández, C. and Amic, I. (2010). Guide to Effective Psychological Treatments II: Health Psychology. Madrid: Pyramid.

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