Emotion Regulation Group Therapy (ERGT) is a treatment for non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) that has recently been implemented in Sweden and evaluated in an open trial with 95 patients in 14 adult outpatient psychiatric clinics (Sahlin et al., 2017). The purpose of the present study was to explore in more detail six of these patients’ experiences of change in ERGT by means of a person-oriented mixed-methods design. Reliable change and clinical significance were calculated for each individual on measures of self-harm, depression, anxiety, stress, and emotion regulation. Semi-structured interviews were carried out, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Both the quantitative and qualitative data on change suggested that the most consistent changes occurred on emotion regulation. The treatment sessions that were most appreciated were those that focused on emotion awareness and emotion regulation. The participants also expressed appreciation of what ERGT afforded in terms of belonging and sharing with others, and the sense of equality in the relationship to the therapist. Critical comments were expressed concerning some parts of the treatment, as for example not having access to an individual therapist. Among the limitations of the study are the small convenience sample, which does not allow for any generalizing conclusions, and that the interviews took place a considerable time (2-3 years) after the participation in ERGT.
Keywords: non-suicidal self-injury, deliberate self-harm, emotion regulation group therapy, clinical significance, thematic analysis, qualitative interview, DSHI, DASS-21, DERS