Community Outpatient Psychotherapy Engagement Service for Self-Harm (COPESS)

What is COPESS?

COPESS stands for 'Community Outpatient Psychotherapy Engagement Service for Self-Harm'. We are a team of therapists who are providing a brief talking therapy for people experiencing problems with self-harm and low mood.

The therapy is delivered as part of a study led by researchers at Liverpool John Moores University, collaborating with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group, University of Leeds, University of Liverpool and University of Manchester.

Our COPESS information guide tells you more about the study, the therapy and how your data is used. You can view and download it here.

What does the therapy look like?

The COPESS therapy involves four one-to-one sessions with a trained therapist. Each session will last around 50 minutes and usually take place weekly. This is also a fifth “booster” session that will be arranged for around one month after the fourth session.

The therapy we use is based on approaches that have been found to be helpful for people who self-harm.

The sessions will involve a conversation between you and your therapist about your experiences, difficulties, emotions and relationships. This conversation will focus on the uncomfortable feelings that can lead to self-harm, and try to understand how these feelings play a part in a person’s everyday life. These may be feelings that are there all the time, that appear occasionally, or something we might not really be aware of at all.

Your therapist will try to work with you to understand how your emotions and experiences relate to your current problems. This may include spending time talking together about how you think and feel in different situations, including in the therapy sessions themselves.

Your therapist may use drawings to help understand how some of your experiences of difficulties are connected. This can sometimes be a helpful way of making sense of the difficulties clients might be experiencing.

The therapy will often include a focus on your relationships, both with other people in the past and present, and also with yourself (e.g. are you kind to yourself, or critical)? The relationship you have with the therapist can also be discussed as we know this is a really important part of effective therapy.

Will the therapy be upsetting or distressing?

During the therapy you may be asked about experiences or feelings that are difficult to talk about. Your therapist will be careful to take things at a pace that’s comfortable for you, so that the therapy feels manageable and is not too overwhelming. The therapist will work to build a trusting and supportive relationship with you to help therapy feel like a safe space.

Who should I contact for more information or to confirm I'd like to take part:

Principal Investigator: Dr Pooja Saini -  / 0151 231 8121

Research Assistant: Anna Hunt - / 07970 175137