Emotional processing and non-suicidal self injury

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emotional procesing scale site Deakin Deakin2 Deakin3

Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

Researchers:  Jodie Thomas B. Sc (Hons), Post Grad Dip (Psych), Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) Candidate
Dr Helen Mildred DPsych (Clinical), Principal Research Supervisor Email: helen.mildred@deakin.edu.au

Research Background

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is typically defined as ‘direct and/or intentional socially unacceptable destruction to one’s own body tissue without conscious suicidal intent and not as a result of a pervasive developmental disorder (Nock, Joiner Jr, Gordon, Lloyd-Richardson, & Prinstein, 2006; Nock & Mendes, 2008 Yates, Tracy, & Luthar, 2008). Previous research indicates that emotional dysregulation is a core feature in the pathology of NSSI behaviour. The prominent theory within the literature suggests that NSSI occurs through a process of emotional dysregulation coupled with rising tension and anxiety relieved by engaging in NSSI. In this way, NSSI may be seen as a maladaptive coping strategy to manage emotional distress and gain a sense of control over emotions.  

Aims of the research

As part of a wider investigation a significant aim of this project is to investigate the relationship between emotional processing styles (as measured by the emotional processing scale [EPS]) and NSSI behaviour.   

Data Collection

Data collection for this project began in May 2009 and was completed at the end of May 2010. Participants for this project have been recruited online from sites that seek to support people who self-injure and general sites that advertise psychological studies. Currently the project has recruited approximately 450 participants predominantly from western countries (USA, UK and Australia).


The results of this research are anticipated to be available by July 2011.


Nock, M. K., Joiner Jr, T. E., Gordon, K. H., Lloyd-Richardson, E., & Prinstein, M. J. (2006). Non-suicidal self-injury among adolescents: Diagnostic correlates and relation to suicide attempts. Psychiatry Research, 144, 65-72.

Nock, M. K., & Mendes, W. B. (2008). Physiological arousal, distress tolerance and social problem-solving deficits among adolescent self-injurers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(1), 28-38.

Yates, T. M., Tracy, A. J., & Luthar, S. S. (2008). Nonsuicidal self-injury among “privileged” youths: longitudinal and cross-sectional approaches to developmental process. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(1), 52-62.