“Knowing that I’m not alone”: client perspectives on counselling for self-injury

Maggie Long, Roger Manktelow, Anne Tracey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Self-injury is an increasingly common phenomenon among clinical and non-clinical populations. Health care providers generally recommend behavioural interventions that address coping skills for people who self-injure despite a lack of a consistent evidence base about their effectiveness. There is limited understanding about experiences of counselling for self-injury from the perspectives of clients.Aim: To understand clients’ experiences of counselling for self-injury.Method: Ten interviews were conducted, audio-recorded and transcribed. Data were analysed using Grounded Theory (GT).Results: One central category, ‘‘Developing a healing reconnection with self and others’’ and four categories: (i) Building trust; (ii) seeing beyond the cutting; (iii) human contact and (iv) integrating experiences.Conclusions: Overcoming self-injury is possible within the context of a trusting and accepting therapeutic relationship. Participants perceived counselling to be helpful when counsellors were willing to work with underlying issues rather than focus primarily on the cessation of self- injury. Counsellors and mental health practitioners must look beyond the behaviour to meet with the person and facilitate the development of a therapeutic relationship, which promotes a healing reconnection with self and others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-46
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number1
Early online date11 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2016


  • Self-injury
  • counselling
  • service user
  • qualitative research


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