Is there a role for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners and Primary Care Mental Health Workers in the delivery of low intensity cognitive behavioural therapy for individuals who self‐harm?

Publication Date09 December 2011
AuthorHayley Williams
SubjectHealth & social care
Is there a role for Psychological Wellbeing
Practitioners and Primary Care Mental
Health Workers in the delivery of low
intensity cognitive behavioural therapy
for individuals who self-harm?
Hayley Williams
Purpose – The aim of this paper is to explore how the role of low intensity cognitive behavioural therapy
(CBT) could be incorporated as a treatment option for individualswho engage in non-suicidal self-injury.
Primary Care Mental Health Workers (PCMHWs) and Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs) are
employed to assist patients experiencing common mental health problems through CBT-basedself-help
materials; this is commonly referred to as low intensity CBT.
Design/methodology/approach – This article reviews the literature in order to investigate how these
workers could incorporate their skills to offer support to those who self-harm as means of coping with
psychological distress.
Findings – The findings from this review identify a call for research into the efficacy of low intensity CBT,
to enable the dissemination of clear guidance into the treatment of non-suicidal self-injury,considering
the role of PWPs and PCMHWs.
Originality/value – At present, there is a lack of guidance into the treatment options for people who
participate in non-suicidal self-injury. There is ambiguity into how PWPs and PCMHWs should manage
this client base and training courses designed for these workers do not address the issues of self-harm.
It is hoped that this article may promote the development of such protocols.
Keywords Non-suicidal self-harm, Low intensity CBT, Behaviour, Carers
Paper type General review
In the UK, self-harm is viewed as a major public health concern as it has been suggested to
occur in one in 15 adolescents, however, due to the often secretive nature of these
behaviours the figures could actually be higher (Deacon et al., 2011; Hooley, 2008).
Furthermore, research has suggested that the incidence of self-harm is increasing (Heilbron
and Prinstein, 2008, cited in Hooley, 2008). The aim of this article is to highlight how low
intensity cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) could be used as an effective means of
managing self-harming behaviours within primary care settings. This could influence
revision of national guidelines and National Health Service (NHS) service protocols in order
to consider the role of Primary Care Mental Health Workers (PCMHWs) or Psychological
Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs) who deliver low intensity CBT within individual or group
sessions. Postgraduate courses aimed at training PCMHWs and PWPs should consider this
information to ensure that the training provided is sufficient to equip these workers with the
necessary information and skills to enable them to incorporate this into their practice; thus
improving services for the population of people who engage in non-suicidal self-injury
throughout Britain. Additionally, a need to conduct further research into this area is also
DOI 10.1108/17556221111194509 VOL.6 NO. 4 2011, pp.165 -174, QEmerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1755-6228
PAGE 165
Hayley Williams is a Primary
Care Mental Health Worker
at Lancashire Care
Foundation Trust, Preston,

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