Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

Services provided by Nicole, Macy, Dan, Hillary, and Christy

What is Non-Suicidal Self Injury? 

The deliberate mutilation or injury of one’s own body with the intent to cause injury but WITHOUT ​the intent to kill oneself.  The majority of people who cut, or engage in self harming behaviors, do not wish to kill themselves through the behavior.  It is instead, a behavior and coping mechanism developed to deal with the overwhelming emotional feelings a person is experiencing.  It is not uncommon for a person to also have suicidal thoughts, however, the self injurious behaviors is generally not the way in which someone intends to kill him or herself.

Why do people engage in NSSI? 

Most people who self-injure tell me they do it for one of two reasons.  The first reason could be the physical pain feels better than the emotional pain.  The cutting behavior is a way he/she turns something he/she can’t control into something that can be controlled.

The other reason I hear is the person has become so numb or they feel “dead inside” that he/she needs to “check in” and see if he/she can still feel.  It’s a way to check in and a way to stay grounded.

The Self injury becomes the way they interact with the world around them and their way to gain some type of power in situations that feel out of control.

Very rarely is self injury purely a manipulation technique.  When someone is cutting to deal with problems there is more going on than “seeking attention.”  The person is asking for help in the best way he or she knows how.


When working with a teen who is engaging in NSSI, a  full assessment is completed to determine the best course of action.  Your therapist will utilize approaches to help a person understand the part of him or herself that is engaging in the behavior.  By understanding this part, the client can gain further understanding of the behavior and its purpose.  DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) informed approaches coupled with Internal Family Systems approaches help the emotionally injured part of the teen make a connection with the underlying hurt part.  This connection will aid in finding the inner healing within and also establishing their own sense of self.