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University holds psychotherapy sessions for people who self-harm

Tuesday 19 September 2017

A UNIQUE series of group psychotherapy sessions helping people who regularly harm themselves are to be held at the University of Salford.

The sessions have been organised by lecturers from the University’s Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy programme who say there is a national lack of services available for people who deliberately harm themselves as a way of coping with trauma or other psychological issues.
Anyone who lives, works or studies in Salford will be eligible to take part in the first of two 12-week group sessions starting in November.
The sessions, funded by £15,000 from the NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), will be led by experienced psychotherapy tutors from the University with support from newly qualified student psychotherapists.
People can be referred to the service from accident and emergency services, mental health charities and colleges, but anyone who feels they need to take part can apply directly.
Dr Gillian Rayner, a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at the University who has spent 20 years working and researching with people who self-harm, has developed a new approach – combining techniques from cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and compassion focused therapy – which will be used during the sessions.
She explained: “We’ll be encouraging people to be kinder to themselves, to develop self-soothing strategies which they can turn to when they feel the need to harm themselves, and to help them understand their own cycles of self-harm – where one negative thought leads to another.
“We also look at how self-harm may have an interpersonal effect and what they can do about this and how they can develop alternatives to self-harm.
“People can self-harm as a coping mechanism and may continue to do it, but our sessions help them find ways of managing their desire to harm themselves and reducing how often they do it or making it less damaging.”
The sessions will be held in the purpose built counselling and psychotherapy suite at the University’s Mary
Seacole Building.
The facility was developed – alongside a wider nursing and midwifery simulation suite – to train students to become professional counsellors and psychotherapists.
The counselling suite, featuring therapeutic areas designed in soft colours where one-to-one, family and group interactions can occur, was also intended to provide mental health service to members of the local community.
Dr Rayner said: “Generally people who self-harm have great difficulty accessing any service like this, as there just isn’t anything available, so I hope these sessions will be hugely beneficial.”
Dr Tom Tasker, Salford GP and chair of NHS Salford CCG, said: “As a GP, I have a number of patients who self-harm and it can be a difficult condition to treat.
“Any additional support that can be offered is warmly welcomed, and I’m really pleased that the CCG has been able to fund this project. I will look forward with great interest to learning how these sessions have hopefully benefitted this group of people in Salford.”
Anyone who wants to take part in the sessions should contact Lisa Bluff on or Gosia Bowling on