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A Review of Empirical Treatment Studies for Adolescent Nonsuicidal Self-Injury

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Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a concern in the adolescent population given its relationship to suicidal behavior, pointing to the serious need for adequate treatments for this high-risk population. This review examined empirical studies that evaluated treatments for NSSI among adolescents, and evaluated how the components of each treatment address common underlying and concurrent factors of NSSI. Among the available treatments, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions that integrate a problem-solving component and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) have received the most empirical attention. However, studies examining the utility of cognitive-behavioral problem-solving interventions for adolescents, and randomized controlled trials examining the efficacy of DBT are lacking. Overall, CBT-based treatments improved underlying or maintaining factors of NSSI, such as depression, hopelessness, and problem-solving skills. DBT was effective for reducing hospitalizations. No existing studies evaluated treatment effectiveness for NSSI exclusively, and few studies used a purely adolescent sample. This review highlights the gap in knowledge regarding adolescent NSSI—there is no strong evidence for the efficacy of any specific treatment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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