Scratching beneath the surface of non-suicidal self-injury: the relationship between early maladaptive schemas and and non-suicidal self injury in youth

  • Annemarie Nicol

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a major public health concern. There has been little published research examining the early maladaptive schemas (schemas)1 of young people who self-injure. To date, no research has explored the relationship between the functions of NSSI, particularly to address difficulties in emotion regulation, and early maladaptive schemas. The purpose of this thesis is to address these gaps, with the overarching goal of incorporating early maladaptive schemas into existing emotional regulation conceptualisations of NSSI. There are four broad aims associated with the project. These are to:
1. Examine whether early maladaptive schemas can provide a framework for understanding psychopathology in youth.
2. Explore how adolescents who self-injure differ from those who do not self-injure in terms of their underlying schemas.
3. Determine whether schemas are associated with the functions of NSSI.
4. Test whether emotion regulation skills mediate the relationship between schemas and NSSI.
This thesis makes important contributions to research and clinical practice. Conceptually, a schema framework presents to self-injury researchers a vulnerability model with which to understand complex behaviour. Therapeutically, this approach offers clinicians a pathway to an integrated treatment approach by addressing not just dysfunctional behaviour, but the maladaptive schemas underlying the behaviour and the function of the behaviour.
Date of Award2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPhil Kavanagh (Supervisor), Anita Mak (Supervisor) & Kristen Murray (Supervisor)

Cite this