Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
School of Arts and Humanities
© 2020 The Authors. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society Background: Brief psychological therapies may be helpful for people who have recently self-harmed. The current paper reports on a service evaluation of a novel brief therapy service based within an Emergency Department, Hospital Outpatient Psychotherapy Engagement (HOPE) Service. This service combines elements of psychodynamic interpersonal and cognitive analytic therapy to help people who present with self-harm-related difficulties. The primary aim of this service evaluation was to ascertain the feasibility of HOPE in terms of attendance rates. The study also examined variables associated with engagement, and change over time in psychological distress for those attending the service. Method: The HOPE service was evaluated over a ten-month period. Consenting patients completed measures of psychological distress and working alliance across four therapy sessions and one follow-up session. Measures of emotion regulation style and self-harm function were also completed at the point of referral. Results: Eight-nine patients were referred to the service (83 eligible referrals). Fifty-three (64%) attended at least one therapy session. Baseline variables did not distinguish people who attended and people who did not. Psychological distress decreased significantly across the sessions. Most people reported a good working alliance with their therapist. Conclusions: The results of this service evaluation support the feasibility of the HOPE service, demonstrating good engagement rates given the complexity of the population and context. Whilst there was evidence of reductions in distress, randomized controlled trials are needed to determine if HOPE has clinical efficacy. Practitioner points: Rates of engagement with HOPE suggest the service is feasible in an Emergency Department context Working alliance scores were positive for the majority of patients The HOPE service shows promise as a brief intervention for people who self-harm but requires further evaluation Randomized controlled trials are needed to determine the clinical efficacy of the HOPE service.