Evidence-Based Psychosocial Treatments for Self-Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors in Youth



Catherine R. Glenn, Joseph C. Franklin & Matthew K. Nock

Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology

September 2014






The purpose of this study was to review the current evidence base of psychosocial treatments for suicidal and nonsuicidal self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs) in youth. We reviewed major scientific databases (HealthSTAR, MEDLine, PsycINFO, PubMed) for relevant studies published prior to June 2013. The search identified 29 studies examining interventions for suicidal or nonsuicidal SITBs in children or adolescents. No interventions currently meet the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologystandards for Level 1: well-established treatments. Six treatment categories were classified as Level 2:probably efficacious or Level 3: possibly efficacious for reducing SITBs in youth. These treatments came from a variety of theoretical orientations, including cognitive-behavioral, family, interpersonal, and psychodynamic theories. Common elements across efficacious treatments included family skills training (e.g., family communication and problem solving), parent education and training (e.g., monitoring and contingency management), and individual skills training (e.g., emotion regulation and problem solving). Several treatments have shown potential promise for reducing SITBs in children and adolescents. However, the probably/possibly efficacious treatments identified each have evidence from only a single randomized controlled trial. Future research should focus on replicating studies of promising treatments, identifying active treatment ingredients, examining mediators and moderators of treatment effects, and developing brief interventions for high-risk periods (e.g., following hospital discharge).









Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee