Date of Conferral







Tiffany Rush-Wilson


Self-injurious behavior (SIB; e.g., wrist-cutting, burning) is a pervasive coping phenomenon that may be indicative of dysfunctional affect regulation and complex developmental trauma. Previous research findings identify the incidence rate of SIB to be approximately 10% to 15% of the general population with 5% to 10% of those engaging in repetitive or recurring SIB. Other sources identify approximately 2 million individuals active in this behavior within the United States; 70% of those individuals are female. However, limited research has used internet technology as a data gathering tool to access individuals who have engaged in SIB and are apprehensive to participate in face-to-face interviews. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the fundamental nature of SIB using an interpretive-phenomenological methodology via internet interviews. Data were gathered from a convenience sample of 18 adult female participants with a reported history of SIB recruited through SIB oriented websites. The data were analyzed through a phenomenological interpretive approach using axial and thematic coding. Results indicated that SIB is a method of coping with stress and emotions as well as a way to regulate and control affect from perceived historical trauma. These findings may advance empirical evaluation of SIB by expanding research designs and informing practitioners about how those who have engaged in SIB view therapeutic treatment. The positive social change implications include generating knowledge useful for program developers, educators, psychologists, and other invested professionals who search for sound, innovative ways to address SIB among women based on the words and experiences of survivors; potential long-term outcomes include improved coping strategies, reduced incidences of bodily harm and improved self-concepts.