Description: This book, part of the Developmental Psychopathology at School Series, discusses nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) in a school setting, its etiology, assessment, and treatment.
Purpose: According to the authors, the book "is designed to provide school-based professionals with the information they need to be better prepared to identify, assess, and treat students with NSSI."
Audience: It is intended for school psychologists and allied educational professionals, but graduate students in school psychology obviously would benefit as well.
Features: The introduction defines NSSI: "First, critical to this definition is the word 'intentional' which indicates that NSSI is deliberate rather than accidental or ambiguous in intent. Second, NSSI is suggested to be 'self-effected.' This term is used rather than 'self-inflicted' because many individuals who engage in NSSI do so with the assistance of others. Third, the use of the phrase 'low-lethality' is important, as it makes clear that NSSI is not a suicidal behavior. Fourth, NSSI is primarily about 'bodily harm.' An individual may talk about, plan, or attempt to self-injure, but until a student actually engages in bodily self-injury there is no NSSI." The authors then discuss causes of NSSI, including behavioral/environmental model, affect regulation model, physiological/biological model, suicide model, interpersonal/systemic model, depersonalization model, and sexual/sadomasochism model. They acknowledge that NSSI is not a simple phenomenon to describe or understand. Chapter 4 details the critical topics of warning signs and the screening and referral process. One of the helpful figures in the chapter illustrates a suicide risk assessment summary sheet. The authors address safety contracts and provide suggestions for school personnel who interact with NSSI students. The most important chapter looks at differentiating self-injury from suicidal behavior. The book ends with treatment and prevention strategies. The chapter on diagnostic assessment references material from Simeon and Favazza (2001) which categorizes self-injurious behavior into the four categories of stereotypic, major, compulsive, and impulsive. The few tables and figures are very helpful and an appendix lists Internet resources. The book is easy to read and practical, integrating the latest research findings, and is full of references for further investigation.
Assessment: At 137 pages, the book obviously is not an exhaustive look at the topic, but it gives school personnel great suggestions on where to start the process with NSSI students. The authors provide current research studies as a foundation as well as intervention and prevention ideas. It is must reading for school personnel, who may be the first to uncover these behavioral issues.