A content analysis of six scholarly journals: What has been written about self-injurious behavior?




Reid, Cassandra

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Self-injurious behavior is defined a variety of ways across many disciplines including medicine, social work, sociology, and psychology. It is important that the field of Family Therapy develop its own definition of this widespread problem in order to find the best systemic methods to work with individuals and their families facing this problem. The different definitions and approaches to working with individuals who self-harm does not provide a consistent method for working with families within a systemic framework.

The purpose of this study was to ascertain what is being written about self-injurious behavior in six scholarly journals: Family Process, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Journal of Family Therapy, Family Relations, Contemporary Family Therapy, and Professional School Counselor since 1990, in 1993 Favazza and Rosenthal distinguished between culturally-sanctioned self-mutilation and deviant-mutilation, distinguishing between those who harm as a result of religious and cultural implications and those who harm as a result of emotional and psychological factors.

Each article was read and analyzed by the principal investigator focusing on the primary research question, "What has been written about self-injurious behavior in selected scholarly journals (Family Process; Journal of Marital and Family Therapy; Journal of Family Therapy; Family Relations; Contemporary Family Therapy; and Professional School Counselor)?" The articles including the desired self-injurious terminology were read in detail and coded into pre-determined categories of theory, training, clinical practice, research, and academia. Once coded, four themes emerged: mental health, adolescent high-risk behavior, school counseling and borderline personality disorder. These themes emerged after a total of five rounds of the coding process by three separate investigators.

Family Therapists can provide a level of care to the self-harming individual and their family that surpasses the traditional approaches to individual therapy. The systemic approach is pivotal in eliminating the problem at the root cause as well as engaging the entire family in the healing and rehabilitation process. There is a significant need for this type of recognition, implementation, and research.



Social sciences, Psychology, Cutting, Family therapy, Self-harm, Self-injury, Self-mutilation