Emotional-regulation has been defined as 'the awareness, understanding and acceptance of emotions, as well as the ability to control behaviour in the context of emotional distress.' People who deliberately harm themselves often have trouble with emotional-regulation having lower emotional awareness and clarity, lower acceptance of emotions and difficulty in controlling their behaviour when experiencing negative emotions. A trial on 90 people aged between 15 and 35 looked at how cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) affected people's tendency to harm themselves. The study found that the most important factor in the effectiveness of CBT was how much it was able to improve the participants' emotion-regulation, particularly their impulse control and goal-directed behaviours rather than its effect on depression, anxiety and suicidal cognitions.
Slee, Nadja ... [et al] - Emotion regulation as mediator of treatment outcome in therapy for deliberate self-harm Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy July-August 2008, 15(4), 205-216