City Research Online

Young Women's Experiences of Self-Harm: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis

Williams, S. (2007). Young Women's Experiences of Self-Harm: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


In this research Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 1997) was used to explore young women's experiences of self-harm and a from this a new model of self-harm was. constructed. This model is grounded in the participants' experiences, rather than in a particular theoretical paradigm or clinical perspective. The participants' experiences of treatment for self-harm were also investigated and many reported receiving treatment that was inappropriate to their needs. It is hoped that this research offers an alternative because current theory and practice is not based on investigations of individual experience or researched from the 'selfharmer's perspective' and consequently does not accommodate or reflect the range of experiences associated with self-harm. In contrast, the model presented here: SelfHarm - Informed Functional Theory (SHIFT), can accommodate diverse experiences and provides a comprehensive yet cohesive framework for conceptualising self-hann. SHIFT is based on the concept of a broad SHIFT continuum where self-harm can be located at one pole as a dysfunctional behaviour, across to the middle range, where self-harm may be conceived of as a functional response or a coping mechanism. At the other extreme of the continuum, self-harm that is experienced as a positive, exciting or euphoric phenomenon can be located. SHIFT can also guide and inform the therapeutic approach and a range of specific interventions corresponding to the identified functions of self-harm are outlined. Stages in the development of 'F.u nction Informed Techniques' (FIT's) are also described. It is hoped that the SHIFT & FIT model presented in this research provides an alternative to the current 'one-size fits alI' treatment offered to clients and represents a shift forward in the approach to self-harm.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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