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Metacognitive awareness is a cognitive set in which negative thoughts/feelings are experienced as mental events, rather than as the self. The authors hypothesized that (a) reduced metacognitive awareness would be associated with vulnerability to depression and (b) cognitive therapy (CT) and mindfulness-based CT (MBCT) would reduce depressive relapse by increasing metacognitive awareness. They found (a) accessibility of metacognitive sets to depressive cues was less in a vulnerable group (residually depressed patients) than in nondepressed controls; (b) accessibility of metacognitive sets predicted relapse in residually depressed patients; (c) where CT reduced relapse in residually depressed patients, it increased accessibility of metacognitive sets; and (d) where MBCT reduced relapse in recovered depressed patients, it increased accessibility of metacognitive sets. CT and MBCT may reduce relapse by changing relationships to negative thoughts rather than by changing belief in thought content.