Year: 2016 Source: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.(2016).84(6):544-557. doi:10.1037/ccp0000093 SIEC No: 20160236

Objective: Self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs) are a major public health problem that traditional interventions have been unable to address on a large scale. The goal of this series of studies was to take initial steps toward developing an effective SITB treatment that can be easily delivered on a very large scale. Method: We created a brief (1Ð2 min), game-like app called Therapeutic Evaluative Conditioning (TEC), designed to increase aversion to SITBs and decrease aversion to the self. In 3 separate studies, we recruited participants with recent and severe histories of SITBs from web forums focused on self-injury and psychopathology (Ns = 114, 131, and 163) and randomly assigned them to receive access to the mobile treatment TEC app or a control app for 1 month. We tested the effect of TEC on the frequency of self-cutting, nonsuicidal self-injury more generally, suicide ideation, suicide plans, and suicidal behaviors. Results: Analyses showed that, compared with the control app, TEC produced moderate reductions for all SITBs except suicide ideation. Across studies, the largest and most consistent reductions were for self-cutting episodes (32%Ð40%), suicide plans (21%Ð59%), and suicidal behaviors (33%Ð77%). Two of the 3 studies showed that TEC impacted its intended treatment targets and that greater change in these targets was associated with greater SITB reductions. TEC effects were not maintained at the 1-month posttreatment follow-up. Conclusions: Future versions of brief, mobile interventions like that tested here may have the potential to reduce SITBs and related behaviors on a large scale.