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Reading between the lines: The stories of young adults experience with the onset and persistence of self-harm behaviour Open Access


Other title
community populations
nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI)
adolescents and young adults
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
York, Mandy L.
Supervisor and department
Dr. Robin Everall (Associate Dean of Students)
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Robert Frender (Retired)
Dr. Rosemary Foster (Educational Policy Studies), Dr. Jude Spiers (Nursing),
Dr. Randolf Wimmer (Educational Policy Studies)
Department of Educational Psychology
Counselling Psychology
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a prevalent and serious issue in adolescent populations. There is limited research investigating the phenomenon of NSSI from the individual's perspective. This study explored how young adults began self-harming as adolescents and how the behaviour progressed for them. The aim of the study is to elucidate an understanding of NSSI from the perspective of the self-injurer. Eleven young adults with a history of NSSI were invited to tell their stories. Transcripts were analyzed using a narrative research approach (Emden, 1988b) and a story was re-created for each participant. Transcripts and stories were also analyzed across participants and four major themes were uncovered: adverse circumstances in childhood, emotions, sense of self, and function. Self-harm was used as a form of behaviour management and as a mechanism to reduce or eliminate what was perceived to be a less desirable behaviour. This is one of the first known studies to use narrative research methodology to investigate the origins and progression of self-harm behaviour in adolescents. Implications for addressing NSSI are discussed.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Purposive sampling was used to obtain participants who had stories of their experiences of NSSI. Purposive sampling is based on the assumption that if one wants to discover, understand, and gain insight into a particular phenomenon, it is necessar...
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