1. Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) an Introduction:
Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) is defined as self-injurious behavior without suicidal intent (Klonsky, 2007). This is an issue that has become ever more prevalent in the field of mental health and has been shown to effect individuals struggling with many other coinciding mental health issues (Klonsky, 2007). Mental Health practitioners have serious concerns regarding the ethical and effective treatment of adolescents struggling with issues related to self-injurious behaviors and the risk factors related to self-harm. When untreated these behaviors can lead to unintentional suicide and as a result it is of utmost importance that mental health professionals approach issues of self-harm with extreme caution, valid assessment tools, and evidence supported treatment. Existing evidence suggests that a strong therapeutic alliance is an important place to start when working with individuals engaging in self-harming behaviors (Kress, 2008) (Muehlenkamp,2006). Next, it is suggested that it is important to develop a good and non-judgmental understanding of the function of the self-harming behavior for the client (Kress, 2008) (Muehlenkamp,2006). Literature also suggests that involvement of family can be an important aspect of treatment. Finally, there is new research to show that Mentalization-Based Treatment is more effective than standard treatment methods for individuals who are self-harming (Russouw, 2012).
2. Information about NSSI:
Individuals struggling with issues of self-harm come from many different backgrounds and struggle with many different mental health issues. However, NSSI is most common among adolescents and young adults, with the age of onset being between 13 and 14 (Klonsky, 2007). Much of the research has shown that females were more likely to engage in self-harming behaviors; however, some reports also suggest that a similar percent of males are also causing harm to themselves (Klonsky, 2007) (Wilkinson, 2013). There are many forms of self-injury including cutting, scratching, pinching, hitting, and burning. The reason for these contrasting prevalence reports may be due to the fact that female clients are more likely to engage in cutting behaviors, while males are more likely to burn themselves (Klonsky, 2007). Evidence has shown that Caucasians are more likely to engage in self-injurious behaviors than any other ethnicity (Klonsky, 2007).
Frequently the function of self-harming behavior is to manage difficult emotions; however research has shown it can also be used to convey messages to others, to direct punishment at oneself, to illicit a sense of control, to induce sensation, to reduce suicidal ideation, or to stop dissociative feelings (Klonsky, 2007). Individuals who self-harm suffer from a variety of psychological stressors including intense negative emotions, trouble understanding and expressing emotions, intense feelings of anger toward self, and a tendency to be impulsive...