Personal Goals, Well-Being and Deliberate Self-Harm

Kate Coughlan, Philip Tata, Andrew Macleod

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The present study sought to understand the perceived well-being value of future goals as a possible explanation for why persons who are suicidal remain attached to goals that are seen as unattainable. Deliberate self-harm patients (DSH; N = 24) were compared with matched hospital controls (N = 24) on a range of measures including current well-being and perceived future wellbeing in the context of imagined goal attainment. Despite the DSH group having substantially lower current levels of well-being, there was no difference between the groups when forecasting their future well-being in the context of imagined attainment. For DSH participants the thought of achieving an important future goal is seen as necessary and sufficient for attaining normal levels of future well-being, which may function to keep them attached to goals that are
perceived as relatively unattainable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434–443
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number3
Early online date8 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Personal Goals
  • Deliberate self-harm
  • Well-being

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