Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-2016

Description

Self-injury is a significant issue with a variety of psychological, social, legal and ethical consequences and implications (Froeschle & Moyer, 2004; McAllister, 2003; Nock & Mendes, 2008; White Kress, Drouhard, & Costin, 2006). Self-injurious behavior is commonly associated with the cutting, bruising or burning of the skin. It also can include trichotillomania, interfering with wound healing and extreme nail biting (Klonsky & Olino, 2008; Zila & Kiselica, 2001). In assessing severity, it is important to note that self-inflicted wounds typically do not require any medical attention, as those who engage in self-injury will usually care for any open wounds in order to prevent infection (Walsh, 2006). The typical duration of a self-injurious act is usually less than 30 minutes, resulting in immediate relief from the emotional turmoil precipitating the behavior (Alderman, 1997; Gratz, 2007). It is difficult to estimate the prevalence of self-injury for many reasons. Nock (2009) noted that reports indicating increased estimates in this behavior derive from “anecdotal reports and estimates from small cross-sectional studies” (p. 81). Given the many ethical and legal ramifications involved in working with clients that self-injure, it is important to understand how self-injury typically manifests itself, how it affects differing populations based on gender and cultural differences, and the level of danger it truly represents to the person choosing to utilize it.

Copyright Statement

©National Board for Certified Counselors and Affiliates, Inc. (NBCC). This document was published with permission from the journal. It was originally published in the The Professional Counselor.