• Date: Monday 10th October 2022
  • Time: 09:30 – 12:30
  • Location: Online (Zoom)
  • Category: CPD

Please note this event is aimed at qualified practitioners employed at one of our partner services within the South West Community of Practice.


Self-harm is a common problem among adolescents, with an estimated lifetime prevalence of 20% among YP under the age of 25 and typical onset around 13-14 years old. Self-harm is a transdiagnostic behaviour and index of distress, associated with poor functional outcomes and increased risk for suicide. Despite this clinical relevance, there is a lack of brief evidence-based interventions supporting YP with mild to moderate self-harm.

This workshop will cover cognitive approaches to formulating and targeting self-harm in young people, with a focus on the role of mental imagery. The novel low-intensity intervention with an integrated smartphone app, Imaginator, will be introduced. Imaginator delivers functional imagery training and helps young people to develop alternative strategies to self-harm and was initially piloted in young adults (Di Simplicio et al., 2021). A new app has been co-designed with young people with lived experience of self-harm with a protocol extended to adolescents (from age 12) and is undergoing testing in CAMHS and adults mental health services funded by NIHR.


9.30-10.15 Introduction

  • Cognitive approaches to understanding self-harm behaviour
  • Why mental imagery?
  • Functional Imagery Training: a cognitive-motivational approach
  • Q&A

10.20-11.00 Imaginator: building motivation

  • Overview of Imaginator: for whom and where
  • Drivers of self-harm and motivation for change
  • Imagery of past success: building self-efficacy
  • Q&A

BREAK (11.00-11.15)

11.15-12.30 Imaginator: an imagery plan of alternative behaviour

  • Building a FIT plan [Role-play / Exercise in break-out groups]
  • Integrating the app
  • Barriers and challenges
  • Q&A


Martina Di Simplicio is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Division of Psychiatry, Imperial College London, and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist in the West London Mental Health Trust. Her research interest is in understanding the cognitive mechanisms – differences in the way we think, remember and anticipate events – that underly psychopathology. Her aim is to understand such mechanism to drive successful treatment of mental disorders, whether pharmacological or psychological. Dr Di Simplicio’s research focuses on mental imagery: how picturing things vividly in our mind can elicit powerful emotional responses and impact on our behaviours, including pathological ones. She applies this research in particular to working with young people who are vulnerable to or experience emotional disorders, with the aim of developing innovative preventative interventions, harnessing digital technology.

Dr Di Simplicio trained in medicine and psychiatry at the University of Siena, Italy. During her PhD at the University of Oxford she investigated how antidepressants shift negative emotional biases in young people at risk for depression. She further trained in cognitive-behavioural therapy at the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre developing a specific interest in mental imagery techniques. During her time as a Career Development Fellow at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge, Dr Di Simplicio investigated the role of mental imagery, in particular future simulation, in regulating emotions e.g. in conditions such as bipolar disorder or self-harm. Her research adopts an experimental medicine approach including functional neuroimaging and behavioural cognitive science methodology, as well as early stage clinical treatment studies. For example she has developed an app-supported intervention ‘IMAGINATOR’ to help young people who self-harm.





To register your interest in this event, fill out the form below. We will email all eligible attendees in due course to confirm a successful registration. Only qualified practitioners working in any of the South West Community of Practice services are eligible to register.

Please make sure you use your work email address to register, otherwise we won’t be able to process your registration.