Talking therapy trial for adults at risk of self-harm launches
A talking therapy for adults at risk of self-harm is to be trialled by researchers funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). The project is being 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.
The feasibility study of cognitive analytic therapy, or CAT, aims to recruit 60 patients who have self-harmed at least three times in the past year.
It is the first time CAT – which is already widely used in the NHS - 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 to change the relationship they have with themselves and others.
The trial called RELATE, short for Relational Approach to Treating Self-harm, will focus on resolving a range of questions, such as what participants think of the therapy, and if the data needed to properly test the therapy can be obtained.
If the results are positive, the researchers hope to carry out a larger scale trial to test if CAT is effective for adults who self-harm.
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.
Many people 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.
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.”
Dr Stephen Kellett from Grounded Research at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, who is also co-leading the project, said: “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, enables and delivers world-leading health and social care research that improves people's health and wellbeing and promotes economic growth.