A controlled trial of personal construct psychotherapy for deliberate self-harm
Evidence for the effectiveness of psychological therapies for people who self-harm is limited. Personal construct theory provides a model of self-harm and a framework for therapeutic intervention, which was evaluated in the present study. Sixty-four adults presenting to Accident and Emergency departments following self-harm were allocated to a personal construct psychotherapy or a ‘normal clinical practice’ condition. They completed various measures at assessment points pre- and post-therapy. Repetition of self-harm was assessed over a 3-year period. Participants in the intervention condition showed significantly greater reduction in suicidal ideation, hopelessness and depression post-treatment than the control group; and significantly more reconstruing at this point and 6-month follow-up. There was some evidence suggestive of a lower frequency of repetition of self-harm in the intervention than in the control group. It is concluded that brief personal construct psychotherapy may be effective for people who self-harm and merits further exploration.