In this first session Graham Martin spoke about the current evidence base for therapies which address self-injury, and some of the complications and limitations in this kind of research.
Next, Nellie Worringham gave a moving account of her own experience of self-injury and some of her experiences of therapy, as well as appealing to clinicians to understand self-injury from the perspective of consumers. Check out the next post for what she said
Graham suggested that the job of clinicians responding to deliberate self-injury is “not to endlessly look at the problem”, but to “translate what we know into something useful”. Yet at the moment, there is no clear guidance from the research literature on how best to respond to self-injury. Although some therapies have established an evidence base (including Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and Problem Solving Therapy), replication by other teams has not always supported the original results.
Graham argues that we should take an interest not only in what makes current therapies effective, but also in the experience of people who self-injure for a period of time in their life, and then succeed in stopping these behaviours without therapy. He reported on two recent Australian studies which found that most people who have succeeded in stopping self-injury still experience the same emotions that led them to self-harm in the first place. This suggests that, through therapy or otherwise, people are learning alternative ways of dealing with overwhelming negative emotions. Graham also emphasised the importance of support from family and friends, which have been consistently found to be significantly associated with consumers stopping self-harm.
Graham also spoke about his recent trials of Voice Movement Therapy – you can find out more about this at these websites: