Adolescent Self Harm – It’s a Complicated Matter

Bower Knowledge

Self-harm in young people is a compelling symptom that frightens parents and practitioners with it’s risk of suicide which encourages us to over focus on the individual. A narrative review by Fortune, Cottrell and Fife ( 2016) considers factors which may be addressed in family therapy  including ‘parent/child interactions, inter-parental relationships, child characteristics, parental characteristics, wider system factors, treatment needs and moderators’.

The authors conclude that the ‘epidemiological evidence on the importance of family-factors for adolescent suicidal behaviour is relatively robust’ and recommend that practitioners focus on ‘maximizing cohesion, attachment, adaptability, family support, and parental warmth while reducing maltreatment, scapegoating

and moderating parental control.’ However they move beyond the family boundary to recommend that attention is paid to the presence of bullying and ‘the vulnerability that gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender status and minority ethnic status may confer.’ Additionally, they recommend close collaboration with schools, child protection services and other wider systems who may be involved.

This paper attests to the importance of a comprehensive systemic response to a complicated and distressing presentation in adolescents.

Fortune ,S., Cottrell,D. and Fife, S.(2016) Family factors associated with adolescent self-harm: a narrative review  Journal of Family Therapy 38: 226–256

Bower Clinic

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We are able to provide a Bulk Billing service by a psychologist and Medicare accredited Mental Health Social Workers for clients who hold a Mental Health Care Plan from their GP.

We also work with clients covered by NDIS support plans.

Clients who are not covered by either a Mental Health Care Plan or the NDIS are able to access services within the Complex Needs Clinic at a low fee rate of $60 per 90 minute session.

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