Supporting Self Care: A new therapy for self-harm is being trialled by a CLAHRC EoE study

Self-harm affects approximately 26% of females and 10% of males in the 16-25 age bracket. In Cambridge, we have higher levels of self-harm than in the rest of the UK. Unfortunately many people affected by self-harm have no support or have to wait for long periods to access treatment. A new therapy to support young people who experience self-harm is being trialled by a CLAHRC East of England study: “Imaginator”. ”Imaginator” offers a brief psychological intervention called functional imagery training. The face-to-face therapy is also supported by a smart-phone app, so that participants will continue practicing the techniques that they learn in therapy. This app was developed in collaboration with a young person’s advisory group who had lived experience of self-harm and it encourages participants to improve their self-care.

“Imaginator” aims to help young people to cope with distress in more adaptive ways as an alternative to self-harm. If successful, Imaginator could pave the way to identifying a brief targeted intervention easily available for young people who often fall in the gaps of current services and may not currently receive support for their self-harm.

Unfortunately the experience of self-harm can be extremely stigmatising, young people don’t talk about it and when they do, they often experience anger and ridicule. We have therefore harnessed the power of social media to publicise the study, and enable people to contact us privately and in their own safe space:

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