Category: Education

Presentation Description

No description available.


By: teensprograms (131 month(s) ago) is helpful for getting valuable parenting tips for struggling children recovery. Many teenagers are suffering from self injury problems due to depression and stress in life. There are several certified counseling centers, therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers dedicated to support troubled adolescents affected from cutting problem.

Presentation Transcript

Understanding Adolescent Self-Injury: 

Understanding Adolescent Self-Injury Jeff Ray, MS, LMHC


Clip from the 2003 movie Thirteen


Introduction Adolescent Self-Injury recently called “the new age anorexia.” Prevalence Estimates have increased greatly in last 20 years Healthcare officials report that self-injury cases have doubled in the last 3 years and fear the numbers may rise as life gets more complex (Discovery Health, March 2005)

Increased Estimates: 

Increased Estimates Conterio & Favazza (1986) reported 750 per 100,000 Suyemoto & McDonald (1995) reported 1800 of every 100,000 young women between 13 & 35 November 1995, during a television interview, Princess Diana disclosed a history of cutting her arms and legs.

Ross and Heath 2002: 

Ross and Heath 2002 Study of 444 teens from two schools Used screening measure to identify students who SI Then conducted follow-up interviews 13.9% had engaged in SI

Discovery Health, 3/27/05: 

Discovery Health, 3/27/05 10% of teenage girls 2 to 3 million Americans Numbers are rising

More Teens or More Reporting: 

More Teens or More Reporting It is hard to know if SI is becoming more prevalent or if more people are reporting it. Usually a secretive behavior

Recent Cultural Attention: 

Recent Cultural Attention 1995, Princess Diana 2003, Two movies, Thirteen and Secretary, have main characters who engage in SI 2003 & 2005, Discovery Health Documentaries 2004, MTV’s Real World San Diego character discloses SI history

Self-Injury, What Is It?: 

Self-Injury, What Is It? Multiple Terms including self-injury, SI, cutting, self-injurious behavior, SIB, self-harm, self-mutilation, cutting, self-mutilative behavior, SMB Terms often used interchangeably.

3 Categories of SI Favazza and Rosenthal (1993): 

3 Categories of SI Favazza and Rosenthal (1993) Major Self-Mutilation Stereotypic Self-Mutilation Superficial or Moderate Self-Mutilation

Major Self-Mutilation: 

Major Self-Mutilation Rarely Documented Infrequent acts with a great deal of tissue damage Includes castration and limb amputation Usually associated with psychosis

Stereotypic Self-Mutilation: 

Stereotypic Self-Mutilation Consists of fixed, repetitive patterns such as head banging, finger and arm biting and eyeball pressing Usually associated with mental retardation, autism and Tourette’s Syndrome

Superficial or Moderate Self-Mutilation: 

Superficial or Moderate Self-Mutilation Relatively little tissue damage Includes cutting, scratching, and burning skin, hitting self, interfering with wound healing and needle sticking

Superficial or Moderate Self-Mutilation Continued: 

Superficial or Moderate Self-Mutilation Continued Cutting arms or legs is most common form Teen cuts until pain is felt or blood is drawn Razor blades, knives, broken glass, utility knives, lighters, iron, curling iron, cigarettes

Winchel and Stanley: 

Winchel and Stanley Moderate/superficial SI --the commission of deliberate harm to one’s body --the injury is done to oneself without aid of another person --the injury is severe enough for tissue damage to occur --done without conscious suicidal intent --not associated with sexual arousal

Moderate Self-Injury 2 Categories : 

Moderate Self-Injury 2 Categories Compulsive Self-Injury Impulsive Self-Injury a. Episodic Self-Harm b. Repetitive Self-Harm Favazzo (1996)

Compulsive Self-Injury: 

Compulsive Self-Injury More closely associated with OCD Includes Trichtillomania (Hair pulling), skin picking and excoriation when it is done to remove perceived faults in the skin

Episodic Self-Injury: 

Episodic Self-Injury Occurs once in a while Person does not think about SI otherwise Person does not see self as a self-injurer Episodic Self-Harm can become Repetitive

Repetitive Self-Injury: 

Repetitive Self-Injury Rumination on SI even when not engaged in the behavior Self-identification as a self-injurer Impulsive in nature Reflex response to any sort of stress, even positive

Repetitive SI as an Impulse Control Disorder: 

Repetitive SI as an Impulse Control Disorder Many researchers and authors have called for Repetitive SI to be classified as 312.3 Impulse Control Disorder, NOS (Favazza and Rosenthal, 1993; Kahan and Pattison, 1984; Miller, 1994)


“I would say it is just like a drug. It becomes something that you feel you can’t live without. When it works once to ‘fix’ a problem, you will try it again and see that it will work again. Eventually your small cuts aren’t enough and you cut more and more. You gain more ‘tolerance.’” --Lia

Common Misconceptions: 

Common Misconceptions Suicidal or Pseudo-Suicidal Attention Seeking Behavior Superficial So Not Serious Just “Acting Out” Borderline Personality Disorder Untreatable

SI as an Alternative to Suicide: 

SI as an Alternative to Suicide “SI keeps me alive. Simple as that.” --Angela

Favazza (1998): 

Favazza (1998) Self-mutilation is distinct from suicide A person who truly attempts suicide seeks to end all feelings whereas a person who self-mutilates seeks to feel better.


“Self-injury is NOT a suicide attempt. It is a way of making emotional pain into something physical that you can see and control.” --Melissa

Solomon and Farrard (1996): 

Solomon and Farrard (1996) Self-injurious and suicidal acts may blur but their meaning does not Link between the two is that SI is an alternative to suicide.


“SI has probably saved me from suicide, strange as it may seem. If I had not had this coping mechanism, this escape, I would probably have killed myself by now.” --Gerda

Diagnostic Oversight: 

Diagnostic Oversight Emergency Medical Staff may assume the severity of the injury represents the severity of the condition Superficial wounds seen as “acting out”

Diagnostic Oversight Cont.: 

Diagnostic Oversight Cont. Often automatically assumed to have Borderline Personality Disorder but many other diagnoses have been associated with SI Often considered hopeless by mental health professionals


“All too often, therapists see it (SI) as the primary symptom of borderline personality disorder, even if the client doesn’t meet the criteria in any other way. And borderlines are still seen as bad news for a therapist. I have heard many stories of therapists accusing their clients of trying to manipulate them or to get attention through self-injury.” --Linelle

Attention Seeking: 

Attention Seeking People who engage in SI are often seen as being manipulative or seeking attention SI tends to be done in private Those who engage in SI tend to conceal their wounds

Attention Seeking Cont.: 

Attention Seeking Cont. SI is the primary coping mechanism. If discovered, others might try to stop it. Not done for it’s effect on others “If it was attention I wanted, I’d take my clothes off and walk in the street.” --L.R.


“When no one listens to you, or you feel no one’s listening to you, all sorts of things start to happen. For instance, you have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help, but it’s the wrong help you’re asking for.”


... “People see it as crying wolf or attention-seeking, and they think because you’re in the media all the time you’ve got enough attention. But I was actually crying out because I wanted to get better in order to go forward and continue my duty and role as wife, mother, Princess of Wales.


“So yes, I did inflict upon myself. I didn’t like myself. I was ashamed because I couldn’t cope with the pressure.” --Princess Diana BBC1 Panorama Interview Broadcast in November 1995

Who Engages in SI?: 

Who Engages in SI? SI crosses racial, age, ethnic, gender and socioeconomic backgrounds However, SI is most commonly found in middle to upper class adolescent girls and young women.

Conterio and Favazza 1986 Survey: 

Conterio and Favazza 1986 Survey 97% female respondents Mid 20s to early 30s Hurting self since teens Middle or upper middle class Intelligent and well educated Often has an eating disorder

Conterio & Favazza 1986 Cont.: 

Conterio & Favazza 1986 Cont. History of physical and/or sexual abuse or from a home with at least one alcoholic parent Half had been hospitalized


From “Persons seeking treatment are usually from middle to upper middle class backgrounds, of average to high intelligence and have low self-esteem.” Nearly 50% report physical and or sexual abuse in childhood

From Cont.: 

From Cont. Many (as high as 90%) report they were discouraged from expressing emotions, particularly anger and sadness 1/2 to 1/3 also have an eating disorder

Internet Survey of Adolescent Self-Injury Murray, Warm and Fox (2005): 

Internet Survey of Adolescent Self-Injury Murray, Warm and Fox (2005) 128 respondents Recruited via postings on 8 Internet SI discussion group sites Average age: 16.7 years 69 from USA, 26 from U.K., 12 from Australia, 12 from Canada Germany, Finland, Japan, Belgium, Israel and New Zealand

Age at Onset of SI : 

Age at Onset of SI 13 years old: 25.8% 14 years old: 18.8% 15 years old: 13.3% 16 years old: 11.7% Others reported being 5 and 8

Frequency of SI: 

Frequency of SI 90.7% monthly 75.8% weekly 26.6% daily

Gender : 

Gender 113 or 88.3% female 14 or 10.9% male 1 did not respond to the question

Prior History: 

Prior History 50% Past suicide attempt 30.5% Physical abuse 28.9% Sexual abuse 29.7% Anorexia 25.8% Bulimia 32% Stealing 11.7% Alcoholism 11.7% Drug Addiction


Sexuality 68% heterosexual 22.7% bisexual 3.9% homosexual 39.8% reported being in a romantic/sexual relationship at the time of the survey

Feeling Sexually Attractive: 

Feeling Sexually Attractive 33.6% reported never feeling sexually attractive 35% rarely 21.9% sometimes 6.3% often 3.1% always

Satisfaction with Body Shape: 

Satisfaction with Body Shape 39.8% reported never feeling satisfied with body shape 23.4% rarely 21.9% sometimes 6.3% often

Sought Help for SI: 

Sought Help for SI 68.8% had sought help from a variety of people including counselors, psychiatrists, psychologist, nurse, social worker 30.5% had not sought help

Emotions Before and After SI: 

Emotions Before and After SI Before After Anxious 76.6% 14.8% Confused 63.3% 27.8% Depressed 87.5% 35.9%

SI as a Response to Stressors: 

SI as a Response to Stressors 89.1% family relationships 85.2% emotional abuse 39.1% romantic relationship 33.6% bereavement 28.1% physical abuse 27.3% sexual abuse 85.9% bad day, argument with friend

SI Actions: 

SI Actions 98.4% Cutting 79.7% Scratching 63.3% Hitting 54.7% Burning 40.6% Overdosing 19.5% Scalding

SI Instruments: 

SI Instruments 89.1% Razor blades 78.9% Knives 38.3% Lighters 33.6% Broken glass 31.3% Matches 35.2% Other

Body Parts Injured: 

Body Parts Injured 92.2% Arms 85.2% Legs 59.4% Hands 49.2% Torso 25.9% Breasts 10.2% Face 3.9% Neck 3.1% Genitals 23.4% Other

Hiding Scars: 

Hiding Scars 80% Often or always hid their scars from others 16.4% Sometimes hid scars from others 11% Often or always hid them from themselves


“I burn sometimes but cutting is what I prefer. I need to bleed and see the blood in order to get relief.” --Kathy


Cutting the Pain cutting.htm

Why SI?: 

Why SI? No one single cause Usually begins in adolescence

Malon & Barardi (1987): 

Malon & Barardi (1987) Response to threat of separation, rejection or disappointment Feelings of overwhelming tension/anxiety and isolation deriving from fear of abandonment and self-hatred

Malon and Barardi (1987) Cont.: 

Malon and Barardi (1987) Cont. Anxiety increases to a sense of unreality and emptiness that produces an emotional numbness or depersonalization Cutting becomes a primitive means of combating the frightening depersonalization


“My main goal in self-injury has just been to feel something …anything.” --Jenny

Van der Kolk et al. (1991): 

Van der Kolk et al. (1991) Studied patients who exhibited SI and suicidality Sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional neglect and chaotic family conditions were “reliable predictors” of the amount and severity of the cutting

Van der Kolk et al. (1991) Cont.: 

Van der Kolk et al. (1991) Cont. Earlier the abuse began, the more likely to cut and the greater the severity of cutting Those who could not remember feeling special or loved as children were least able to control the self-destructive behavior

Van der Kolk et al. (1991) Cont.: 

Van der Kolk et al. (1991) Cont. Concluded: While childhood trauma contributed heavily to the initiation of self-destructive behavior, lack of severe attachment maintains it However, many people who engage in SI have no history of childhood trauma

Linehan (1993): 

Linehan (1993) Self-injurers grow up in homes with “invalidating environments.” While abusive homes are “invalidating,” so are many homes considered to be more normal.

Invalidating Environment: 

Invalidating Environment Communication of private experiences is met by erratic, inappropriate or extreme responses Expression of private experiences is not validated and often punished and or trivialized Experience of painful emotions is disregarded

Invalidation: 2 Characteristics: 

Invalidation: 2 Characteristics Child gets message she is wrong in her description and analysis of her own experiences, particularly her views of what is causing her emotions, beliefs and actions Child attributes experiences to socially unacceptable characteristics or personality traits

Invalidating Statements: 

Invalidating Statements “You’re not trying hard enough.” “I’ll give you something to cry about.” “Stop being such a pessimist.” “Cheer up. Snap out of it.” “You’re just lazy.” “You’re being too sensitive.” “You just won’t admit it.” “You say no but mean yes.”

Invalidating Statements Cont.: 

Invalidating Statements Cont. All of us receive statements like these but for children raised in invalidating environments, the messages are constant. Chronic invalidation can lead to self-invalidation, SIB, and feelings that one never mattered.

Biology and Neurochemistry: 

Biology and Neurochemistry Depression positively identified as a long term consequence of physical abuse and a large number of those who engage in SI report a history of abuse SI may be related to decreases in neurotransmitters, esp. Serotonin

Biology and Neurochemistry Cont.: 

Biology and Neurochemistry Cont. Simeon et al. (1992) found that self-injurers have fewer platelet binding sites which are related to serotonin activity. Coccaro et al. (1997) found that if serotonin levels are low, aggression increases and responses to irritation escalate into SI, suicide or attacks on others

Biology and Neurochemistry Cont.: 

Biology and Neurochemistry Cont. Initially, SSRIs thought to have some effect on SI behavior but no long term effect has been found

Behavioral Explanations: 

Behavioral Explanations Positive Reinforcement Paradigm: Sensory stimulation serves as a positive reinforcer and thus a stimulus for further self-injury

Behavioral Explanations Cont.: 

Behavioral Explanations Cont. Negative Reinforcement Paradigm: SI removes some aversive stimulus or unpleasant condition, emotional or physical. In effect, SI is a way to escape otherwise intolerable pain.


“Often, (self) harm is a way of gaining relief from overwhelming emotions and sometimes the person feels a great sense of release after they have hurt themselves.” Jayney Goddard, President, Complimentary Medical Association, United Kingdom

Sensory Contingencies: 

Sensory Contingencies Long held belief that people who engage in SI are attempting to manage levels of sensory arousal SI can increase sensory arousal and many report they SI to feel more real or just to feel something SI can decrease sensory arousal by masking emotions that are even more painful than SI


“My goal of self-injury is to ‘zone out’ and feel absolutely nothing. I get excited when I see my blood running down my leg and then my head sort of detaches itself from my body and I feel like I’m floating.” --Deja


“Before I cut, things felt unreal. The thoughts were racing in my head. I felt dizzy and invisible; like I was just watching what was going on around me, but I wasn’t really there.” --Anonymous

SI as a Coping Mechanism: 

SI as a Coping Mechanism “SI is a coping mechanism that has many bad sides, but it works. It is a way to deal with extreme emotional distress, a way to survive.” --Gerda


“I would say it is just like a drug. It becomes something that you feel you can’t live without. When it works once to ‘fix’ a problem, you will try it again and see that it will work again. Eventually your small cuts aren’t enough and you cut more and more. You gain more ‘tolerance.’” --Lia


“I think SI serves various purposes and at different times I have done it for different reasons. For instance, a deep cut might be in response to a bad feeling whereas picking or scratching until my skin is removed might be in response to a nagging feeling that is not really bad—just chronic.” ---Julie

The History and Mentality of Self-Mutilation: 

The History and Mentality of Self-Mutilation Audio Clip NPR Morning Edition, June 10, 2005


Treatment Variety of treatment recommendations ranging from outpatient family therapy to specialized self-injury inpatient units

General Consensus: Multimodal: 

General Consensus: Multimodal Medication for associated mental health issues Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Interpersonal Therapy Group Therapy Family Therapy Expressive Activities Skills Building Groups Services for associated problems


Medications May be helpful in managing the associated depression, anxiety, racing thoughts and OCD behaviors. No evidence medications are effective in addressing SI itself

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Recognize and address triggering thoughts and feelings in healthier ways May use contracts, journaling and behavior logs to maintain self-control REBT, Dialectic Behavior Therapy

Interpersonal Therapy: 

Interpersonal Therapy Improving communication patterns Improving skills for developing and maintaining relationships Identification and expression of emotions

Group Therapy: 

Group Therapy Healthy expression of emotions in a supportive environment Improvement of interpersonal skills Share and learn alternative coping mechanism Express and explore underlying problems

Family Therapy: 

Family Therapy Learn to communicate more directly and nonjudgmentally Improve family conflict resolution & problem-solving skills Address family stress related to SI Enhance family relationships

Expressive Activities and Skill Building Groups: 

Expressive Activities and Skill Building Groups Development of healthier coping skills Anger management Relaxation training Art therapy Yoga

Other Services: 

Other Services Substance abuse counseling Therapy for abuse issues Domestic violence counseling

Dialectic Behavior Therapy: 

Dialectic Behavior Therapy A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Evidenced-based practice for SI and suicide Assumes SI behaviors are learned coping methods for intense negative emotions Outpatient service but has been adapted for hospital use

DBT Cont.: 

DBT Cont. Long-term lasting a year or more Outpatient service but has been adapted for hospital use Includes Individual Therapy Skills Group Phone Coaching

4 Stages of DBT: 

4 Stages of DBT Stage 1: Moving from being out of control of one’s behavior to being in control Stage 2: Moving from being emotionally shut down to experiencing motions fully Stage 3: Building an ordinary life, solving ordinary life problems Stage 4: Moving from incompleteness to completeness/connection

SAFE Alternatives: 

SAFE Alternatives SAFE stands for Self-Abuse Finally Ends First outpatient support group First structured inpatient unit Bodily Harm: The Breakthrough Treatment Program for Self-Injurers. (1998) Hyperion Press

SAFE Alternatives Inpatient Program: 

SAFE Alternatives Inpatient Program Combines milieu therapy, CBT, and group and individual activities

Admission Criteria: 

Admission Criteria Voluntary admissions only At least 12-years old Not actively psychotic or suicidal Pattern of SIB poses imminent danger to life and safety Unsuccessful Outpatient Treatment

Course of Treatment: 

Course of Treatment Optimal length is 30-days of inpatient treatment and partial hospitalization Involves a “reliance on words” as the primary means of managing feelings, gaining self-awareness and gaining self-control Expensive Controversial no tolerance policy

Barriers to Treatment: 

Barriers to Treatment Many find it extremely difficult to talk about SI and underlying problems Shame and guilt May finish therapy without SI being disclosed or discovered Therapist must be able to look at wounds without grimacing or passing judgment

Barriers Cont.: 

Barriers Cont. SI has an addictive quality Each time SI occurs, reinforces the belief that SI is the only way to solve problems Impulses to self-injure may last throughout adulthood


When a person self-harms, it does not mean they are going mad—it means they need some help because they are hurting inside.” --Steph

Specific Alternatives to SI: 

Specific Alternatives to SI Ice Cube Therapy Line Therapy Impulse Control Log 15-minute Contract


Ice Cube Therapy Holding ice cubes in hands to feel pain Line Therapy Drawing lines on one’s body with a red marker

Impulse Control Log: 

Impulse Control Log Time and location Current feelings Current situation Consequences of engaging in SI Issue SI is communicating Action taken Outcome

15-Minute Contract: 

15-Minute Contract Contract (with self or others) to wait 15-minutes before self-injuring Utilize pre-made list of diversional and tension-reducing activities At end of 15-minutes, praise self If impulse/urge persists, new contract Call crisis line or other support if believe cannot make the 15-minutes

Immediate Support: 

Immediate Support Telephone crisis lines On-line discussion groups

Other Alternatives: 

Other Alternatives Go to the mall or restaurant Call a friend or therapist Journal Exercise Make mood tapes Watch a funny movie Paint or draw Cook or do chores


“I keep a journal and am always writing.” --Anonymous

Loving Others, Loving Ourselves: 

Loving Others, Loving Ourselves Audio Clip NPR Morning Edition, June 10, 2005

Signs of SI: 

Signs of SI Cuts or burns on arms, legs, torso Knives, razor blades, broken glass etc. hidden in bedroom or in a “kit” Blood stained sharps Regularly locking self in bedroom or bathroom following negative encounters with peers or family Teen’s peers engage in SI Reports from siblings or friends

Advice for Family and Friends: 

Advice for Family and Friends Realize disclosure is a big step Don’t show horror or disgust Don’t judge or blame Be supportive without reinforcing the behavior Don’t avoid the subject. Let teen know you are available to talk and listen

Advice for Family and Friends Cont.: 

Advice for Family and Friends Cont. Show concern for injuries—it is not helpful to withhold attention Offer hugs or sit by teen’s side Offer a “Physical Safe Place” Provide distractions as necessary Don’t give ultimatum Persist gently, no lecturing

Advice for Parents: 

Advice for Parents If only suspect, share concerns in a nonjudgmental way Acknowledge teen’s pain Inform will not get mad if discuss SI and then don’t Let teen know you want a professional evaluation Ask about suicidal thoughts and plans Seek immediate help if present

Advice for Parents Cont.: 

Advice for Parents Cont. Make spending more time together as a family a priority Create a calmer atmosphere Work together as a family to solve conflicts and deal with crises.

Advice for Parents Cont.: 

Advice for Parents Cont. Don’t…. Display anger Tell teen to just stop it Think of it as a phase or being for attention Punish or ground for SI Injure self to show them how you feel


“My family made me feel very uncomfortable. They just didn’t understand when I told them. They thought I was crazy and my Mom thought it was her fault that I was doing all this to myself. She shouted and told me it would get infected. I couldn’t believe that she believed that would matter to me..” --anonymous


“My friend told me that she wouldn’t talk to me again unless I stopped it. She did that because she cared, but it made everything a lot worse for me.” --Anonymous

Advice for Teachers: 

Advice for Teachers Often first to discover SI Let teen know available to listen Encourage them to talk to parents Encourage teen to discuss thoughts about SI Ask about suicidal thoughts and plans Seek immediate help if needed Encourage professional evaluation

Advice for Clergy: 

Advice for Clergy Ask teen how you can help Be available to listen, to pray for them or pray with them Ask teen if thinks God is punishing her—if yes, explore why Encourage teen to share angry thoughts she might have about God and why God would let bad things happen

Advice for Clergy Cont.: 

Advice for Clergy Cont. Let teen know many people are in pain and have such confusing thoughts Encourage teen to avoid isolation and to get involved in more activities such as the church youth group, volunteer work, group outings, etc.


“All I wanted was a shoulder to cry on and someone to tell me they would help me. What I got was panic about my health. Everyone seemed to take it that the cutting itself was the issue…the scars would always be there. No one asked me why, or what I was feeling. No one seemed to care. After that the cutting got worse.” --Anonymous

authorStream Live Help