Talking therapy trial for adults at risk of self-harm launches

Talking therapy trial for adults at risk of self-harm launches
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A new trial of talking therapy for adults at risk of self-harm will be trialled by researchers from The University of Manchester.

Talking therapies are effective and confidential treatments delivered by healthcare providers. Some examples of talking therapy are guided self-help, counselling, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Now, a new talking therapy for adults specifically at risk of self-harm will be trialled by a research team following funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

The project is run by Clinical Psychologists at The University of Manchester, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, and Grounded Research based at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust.

Trialling cognitive analytic therapy for self-harm

The feasibility study of cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) will aim to recruit 60 patients who have self-harmed at least three times in the past year. This is the first time CAT is being tested as a specific treatment for self-harm.

CAT has previously been shown to help people with complex mental health problems, supporting people to change their relationships with themselves and others.

The trial called RELATE (Relational Approach to Treating Self-harm) will focus on a range of questions, such as what the participants think of the therapy. If the results are positive, the researchers are hoping to carry out a larger-scale trial to test the effectiveness of CAT for self-harm.

Self-harming is on the rise

Self-harm is a major health concern in the UK that appears to be on the rise, with rates increasing from 2.4% in 2000 to 6.4% in 2014.

According to the NHS, self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. Some reasons for self-harm include expressing emotional distress, a cry for help or a response to intrusive thoughts. Talking therapies are often recommended for patients self-harming to help manage symptoms.

Project co-lead Dr Peter Taylor from The University of Manchester and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “Self-harm is often a sign of considerable distress and underlying difficulties. We need research to help find out which are the best ways of supporting people with these experiences.

“According to the Samaritans, getting support and therapy can be challenging for people who self-harm, and some people can feel they are bounced “from pillar to post.

“That is why the availability of effective, accessible therapies for people who self-harm struggling to find support and therapy could make a huge difference to them.”

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