The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) launches a new talking therapy for self-harm trial in an effort to reduce the number of those struggling in the UK
Researchers funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) have launched a talking therapy for self-harm trial. It is aimed at adults who are deemed at high risk of self-harming.
Clinical Psychologists at The University of Manchester, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, and Grounded Research at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust have run the project.
Cognitive analytic therapy
Cognitive analytic therapy, also known as CAT, aims to recruit 60 patients who have self-harmed at least three times in the past year.
CAT is already widely used in the NHS, but this is the first time it is being tested as a specific treatment for self-harm.
CAT, which has been shown to help people with complex mental health problems, supports people in changing their relationships with themselves and others.
The taking therapy for self-harm trial called RELATE, short for Relational Approach to Treating Self-harm, focuses on asking questions and resolving those questions. For example, finding out what participants think of the therapy and what kind of data is needed to make talking therapy for self-harm successful.
If positive results are achieved, the researchers hope to conduct a larger-scale trial to test if CAT is effective for adults who self-harm.
Self-harm rates in the UK increased from 2.4% in 2000 to 6.4% in 2014
Self-harm is a major health concern for the NHS in the UK, and unfortunately, it’s on the rise, with rates increasing from 2.4% in 2000 to 6.4% in 2014.
For example, adults who self-harm may take an overdose or intentionally injure themselves in response to significant distress or difficult life situations.
RELATE is funded as part of a wider mental health research initiative run by the National Institute for Health and Care Research.
What is self-harming a sign of?
Project co-lead Dr Peter Taylor from The University of Manchester and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust explains: “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.
People can feel they are bounced “from pillar to post”
“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.”
Understanding the origins of self-harm
Dr Stephen Kellett from Grounded Research at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, who is also co-leading the project, concluded: “CAT helps to build an understanding with the client of the origins of their self-harm and different ways of being in the present day.”
The NIHR funds and delivers world-leading health and social care research to improve people’s health and well-being and promote economic growth.