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Students who self-harm: coping style, rumination and alexithymia

Borrill, Jo and Fox, P. and Flynn, Maria and Roger, D. (2009) Students who self-harm: coping style, rumination and alexithymia. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 22 (4). pp. 361-372. ISSN 0951-5070

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09515070903334607


Counsellors working with students or other young adults may encounter individuals who have self-harmed, either with suicidal or non-suicidal intent. Recent US studies reported rates of self-injury of up to 37% of the student population, but studies in the UK have focussed primarily on younger adolescents. This study examined reported self-harm incidents (scratching, cutting, poisoning, overdose etc) from a sample of 617 university students. A total of 27% reported at least one incident of self-harm, with almost 10% having harmed themselves while at university. Gender differences were not significant but psychology students reported significantly more self-harm than other students. Participants reporting self-harm scored significantly higher on maladaptive coping styles, rumination, and alexithymia (specifically difficulty in identifying emotions) and these differences were most marked for students reporting repetitive and recent self-harm. Rumination and Alexithymia factor 1 (difficulty identifying feelings) emerged as the most robust factors predicting self-harm status. Comments from students who self-harmed at university highlighted the importance of accessible services and academic staff support. The implications of these findings for counselling interventions are discussed, including challenging negative rumination tendencies and developing mindfulness skills.

Item Type:Article
Research Community:University of Westminster > Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages, School of
ID Code:8293
Deposited On:14 Jul 2010 10:59
Last Modified:14 Jul 2010 10:59

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