Adolescents' subjective experience of self-harm - a multiple case-study

Self-harm is an increasing health problem among adolescents, and is associated with several serious mental illnesses. Self-harm is carried out once by some, but repeatedly by others. However, we need more knowledge on individual differences among adolescents’ who harm themselves. The aim of this study is to explore the diversity and possible subgroups among adolescents' in a clinical population who harm themselves, and what they find helpful or not in treatment.

This study is a qualitative multiple single case study. Data are collected from adolescents (12-18 years) referred to a mental health clinic. Findings from an open interview (Life-form Interview) are analysed by an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to develop subtypes of subjective experience of self-harm. Findings are related to data pertaining to mental health (MINI), personality pathology (SIDP-IV) and attachment (Adult Attachment Interview adjusted for adolescents), for which we have data from a larger normative sample. Integrating different data sources is challenging, but enables triangulation of data across cases to generate more reliable hypotheses and develop concepts about possible sub-types of self-harming behaviour. A follow-up interview explores the adolescents’ treatment experience; what has, or has not, been useful (independent of treatment method).

Findings have implications for improving treatment; firstly, to increase clinicians' ability to discover and understand the adolescents’ inner world, secondly, to increase adolescents’ motivation and engagement in treatment, and thirdly, to increase their self-understanding. This can contribute to reduce treatment drop-out rate and correct a disturbed developmental pathway.

Research Activity 4

Health Category 10

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  • Sletting: desember 2023

Prosjektleder / prosjektansvarlig ved UiO

Line Indrevoll Stänicke

Ansvarlig enhet

Psykologisk institutt



  • Ph.d.-prosjekt

Helsefaglig forskning

  • Ja


  • Ikke besvart


  • Start: april 2015
  • Slutt: oktober 2019
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