Pernicious influences & harmful effects: a discourse analysis of self-critical, self-harming & resulting emotion processes in socially anxious clients

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Exploring and working with the self-relationship is central to the therapeutic process, yet there has been limited research on this phenomenon. Aim: The present study was intended to examine negative treatment of self in socially anxious clients who participated in the Strathclyde University Emotion-Focused Therapy for Social Anxiety research protocol (EFT-SA). Method: Utilising client self-reporting from a measurement tool, the Self-Relationship Questionnaire (SRQ), four participants were selected based on high pre-therapy scores within the respective domains of self-attack, self-control, self-neglect and self-affiliation. We carried out qualitative discourse analyses of session 2 therapy transcripts for each participant to identify the main themes of self-attack. Results: This investigation revealed both obvious and subtle client process indicators of different kinds of self-attack: Objects of Self-Criticism, Direct & Indirect Strategies for Self-Criticism, the Mode of Self-Harm (Self-Attack, Hostile Control, Hostile Neglect & Hostile Freedom), and the Emotional Effects. Conclusion: In addition to mapping the nuances of self-attacking discourse, the varying dimensions of self-criticism, self-harm and their emotional impact are incorporated into a redefinition of self-attack. Keywords: emotion-focused therapy; self-attack; self-criticism; self-harm; social anxiety
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2017
EventSchool Based Counselling Exhibition - University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 May 201710 May 2017


ExhibitionSchool Based Counselling Exhibition
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • self harming
  • social anxiety
  • self attack

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