The role of emotion dysregulation in non-suicidal self-injury among treatment seeking adolescents

Blair W Morris, Fordham University

Abstract

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) refers to the direct and deliberate destruction of one's own body tissue without intent to die. Surprisingly, although emotion regulation is the most commonly reported function of NSSI behavior, research has not yet empirically investigated the association between emotion dysregulation and endorsement of the emotion regulation function of NSSI. Given the high prevalence of NSSI among adolescents and the lack of research on emotion dysregulation and NSSI in outpatient samples, it is essential that research focus on better understanding emotion dysregulation among outpatient adolescents who engage in NSSI. The purpose of the current study was to further investigate relationships among emotion dysregulation and NSSI among adolescents receiving outpatient treatment. ^ Methods: Participants included 80 adolescents seeking treatment in an outpatient clinic with (n = 48) and without (n = 28) histories of NSSI. They were assessed for demographic and clinical variables, emotion dysregulation, and lifetime frequency of NSSI at baseline. For those in DBT treatment (n = 35), NSSI behavior during treatment was tracked on a weekly basis for 20 weeks. ^ Results: Higher levels of emotion dysregulation were associated with higher scores of emotion regulation function of NSSI. Emotion dysregulation statistically predicted lifetime frequency of NSSI. Emotion regulation function score statistically predicted lifetime frequency of NSSI. Emotion dysregulation did not predict frequency of NSSI during treatment. Higher emotion dysregulation did not show shorter time to engagement in NSSI during treatment. ^ Conclusion: The study provided a wealth of information that can be used to inform clinical assessment and treatment of NSSI behavior more effectively. The results point to the importance of thorough assessment of emotion dysregulation and function of NSSI behavior among self-injurers. Emotion dysregulation is a powerful indicator of several important elements of NSSI, including lifetime NSSI frequency and engagement in the behavior for emotion regulation specifically. However, emotion dysregulation does not explain all aspects of NSSI behavior; it did not predict frequency of NSSI behavior during treatment or time to engagement in NSSI. Further research is necessary to identify factors--in addition to emotion dysregulation—that influence the engagement and severity of NSSI among adolescents.^

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Morris, Blair W, "The role of emotion dysregulation in non-suicidal self-injury among treatment seeking adolescents" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3727392.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3727392

Share

COinS