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The experience of deliberate self harm : a grounded theory study Weinberg, Mark Robert

Abstract

This study utilized grounded theory methodology to examine the experience of transition towards, living with, and recovery from, deliberate self-harm from the perspective of people who had lived with these behaviours. The study aimed to transcend the tendency to focus on professional and clinical perspectives and to build a theory based on the direct experiences of people who have lived with deliberate self-harm. The grounded theory methodology (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) was utilized and consisted of in-depth interviews with 13 people who had recovered from deliberate self-harm as well as a registered psychologist who worked with people living with deliberate self-harm and a tattoo artist who practiced skin cutting as an art form. Interviews were coded and analyzed and a theoretical model was developed describing a process whereby: (a) exclusive and/or intrusive experiences play a central role in precipitating the discovery of deliberate selfharm, (b) a sense of loss of control results from these exclusive/intrusive experiences, (c) self-harming behaviours occur in an attempt to manage the sense of loss of control, and (d) continued exclusionary/intrusive experiences act to maintain self-harming behaviours. Recovery occurs in the context of an environmental shift, leading to the experience of Inclusion, which facilitates a sense of control. The findings of this study contribute to the field of counselling psychology by providing a model focused on client experience, and by building on a body of knowledge concerning a population that counsellors are encountering in increasing numbers (Zila & Kisela, 2001).

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