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

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

TitleStudents who self-harm: coping style, rumination and alexithymia
AuthorsBorrill, J., Fox, P., Flynn, M. and Roger, D.
Abstract

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.

JournalCounselling Psychology Quarterly
Journal citation22 (4), pp. 361-372
ISSN0951-5070
YearDec 2009
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/09515070903334607
Publication dates
PublishedDec 2009

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