Year: 2013 Source: Nordic Psychology.(2012).64(4):272-290. DOI:10.1080/19012276.2012.768034 SIEC No: 20130589

This study aimed to explore how health care workers think, feel and act when working with patients who self-injure. Eight health care workers who had extensive experience with patients who self-injure were recruited from a secure ward at a psychiatric hospital in Western Norway. Semi-structured interviews were conducted at the participants’ workplace. The interviews were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Four themes emerged from the analysis: (1) ÒBeforeÓ: the frustration inherent in using coercive strategies; (2) ÒThe ChangeÓ: from coercion to alliance; (3) ÒNowÓ: the experience of useful ways of working with self-injury; (4) ÒThin line between Life and DeathÓ: suicide attempt or self-injury? The first theme describes how the ward used to function before the changes described in the second theme occurred. The third theme and its sub-themes detail how undergoing the change process previously described led to a subjectively better way of working with self-injury. The fourth theme describes a new challenge that arose with the new way of thinking about and working with self-injury. The four themes form a chronological narrative of how the participants’ understanding and treatment of self-injury changed with experience, and details the new ways of working with and understanding self-injury. The discussion section explores how the themes relate to each other and explores the findings in the light of psychological literature.