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Dr. Hanni Flaherty Writes About Adolescent Self-Injury

Hanni Flaherty , Assistant Professor, Wurzweiler School of Social WorkDr. Hanni Flaherty, clinical assistant professor and associate director of the doctoral program at Wurzweiler School of Social Work, has published “Treating Adolescent Non-Suicidal Self-Injury: Guidelines for Clinical Practice” in Child & Youth Services (June 14, 2021), a journal that promotes research that advances knowledge and thinking about relational engagement with children, youth, their families and communities.

Here is the abstract:

Self-injurious behaviors affect millions of adolescents each year, indicating a public health problem needing attention and intervention. Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is the act of purposefully hurting oneself without the conscious intent to die, such as self-cutting, burning, or carving. As the rate of engagement in NSSI is growing among adolescents, mental health practitioners are increasingly faced with responding to NSSI behaviors among adolescent clients. These mental health practitioners must adequately and efficiently identify the behaviors and determine the course of treatment to best support the client and reduce the NSSI behaviors. This article aims to educate practitioners around NSSI behaviors, assessment techniques, and the current evidence-based interventions available to treat adolescents who struggle with NSSI to determine the best practice for this high-risk population by using a case example. Due to the lack of research on NSSI, there is a significant gap in knowledge related to interventions for adolescents who engage in NSSI. Practitioners often report having little training specific to the issues and needs of adolescents who engage in NSSI.

Given the likely increase in the prevalence of adolescents involved in NSSI as the society moves into its post-pandemic phase, “not only is there an urgent need for research on how to further understand and effectively treat NSSI,” noted Dr. Flaherty, “but it is also essential that mental health practitioners be trained in how to assess and treat NSSI based on the current research [in order to do a] proper assessment and determine the course of treatment to best support this high-risk population.”