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Group Therapy for Self-Injury

Participant Information

Thank you for your interest in this study. Please take time to read the following information carefully and feel free to ask questions if any of the information is not clear to you or if you would like more information.

Aim of the study

To explore the feasibility and effectiveness of group therapy for young adults who self-injure. Self-injury is commonly used to regulate and cope with intense negative emotions and can involve cutting, burning or carving the skin and hitting or banging the self or hard objects. This program aims to better understand which treatments are most effective in reducing this behaviour and improving well-being in those who self-injure. By participating in this research, you will be providing important information which will be used to assist with further development of treatments for self-injury.

What will the project involve?

This project is designed to look at the effectiveness of two different group treatments for self-injury. The content of each group treatment is different but both treatments involve discussing your experiences with a group of other people who wish to address their self-injury. Both groups take exactly the same amount of time per week and are the same length. If you agree to take part in this treatment trial you will be randomly allocated to one or other of the groups. Both treatments we are testing will involve weekly attendance at a group session, at the Curtin Psychology clinic, lasting about two hours and going over eight weeks. Both groups may also involve some homework exercises. Both groups will be facilitated by two experienced therapists.

Before you begin the group therapy you will be asked to attend a face-to-face assessment session where you will be asked a range of questions which assess the presence or absence of different emotional difficulties. This interview will take about half an hour. Following this you will be asked to complete some questionnaires that ask about your general well-being and about the nature and severity of your self-injury, and ask you to undergo some computer tasks. This first session will take between one to two hours.

You will also be asked to swab your mouth to collect saliva a few times a day, for two days prior to treatment. This is a really simple procedure that you can do yourself at home. We will ask you to repeat these assessments half way through treatment, at the end of the treatment and at three and six months after the group has finished. On days when you complete these assessments we schedule a double-session for you. These tasks will provide information as to how effective the treatment has been. Throughout treatment you will be asked to keep a daily self-injury diary so that we can keep track of how you are going.

All therapy sessions will be audio recorded to allow us to ensure that the treatment being provided to you adheres to best-practice guidelines. We will also ask you to provide feedback on the therapy and the therapists so we can ensure we maintain a high standard of care in our work.

What are the risks and benefits?

It is anticipated that participants will experience a reduction in the frequency and severity of self-injury and also an improvement in general well-being as a result of completing the program. However, as with all treatments, we cannot guarantee these treatment outcomes. Throughout the study you will receive a visual report of your results to help you keep track of how you are going. As per usual clinic procedure, further treatment or referral to another service will be provided to those who do not experience benefits from their treatment. If you are currently seeing a psychologist or therapist we ask that you discontinue these sessions just whilst you are taking part in this study as we need to assess the effectiveness of the group treatments alone. Participation in the study is completely voluntary and you may withdraw at any time without any negative consequences.


All information you provide on questionnaires and in the group itself will be treated in the strictest confidence. In the first therapy session we will establish ground rules for the group which will also stress that any information revealed by any member of the group must be treated in confidence. Information will only be conveyed to a third party if a member of the group presents an immediate danger to themselves or someone else.

Results from this research may be published in scientific journals and presented at relevant conferences but you will never be identified in any reporting if the results.

If you would like more information or would like to participate in this research, please complete our contact form and we will get back to you.

Should you wish to contact any of the researchers, please visit their profiles for details:

Associate Professor Clare Rees. View profile
Associate Professor Penelope Hasking. View profile.
Professor Ottmar Lipp. View profile.
Dr Lauren Breen. View profile.
Dr Cyril Mamotte. View profile.

This study has been approved by the Curtin University Human Research Ethics Committee Approval number: HR22/2015

Should participants wish to make a complaint on ethical grounds (phone: 9266 2784 or or in writing C/- Office of Research and Development, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, Perth WA 6845.

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