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Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology

Committee Chair

Alyson Williams, PhD


Self-harm is a challenging behavior that can cause serious problems and even death. As many as 61 % of adolescent psychiatric inpatients report engaging in selfharming behavior. Collaborative problem solving (CPS) is a theory used in many therapeutic settings to decrease challenging behavior. CPS conceptualizes challenging behavior as the result of cognitive skill deficits. No research exists looking at the use of CPS with self-harming behaviors despite its use with this population. This review investigated cognitive skill deficits of individuals who harm themselves. Research indicates individuals who harm themselves frequently experience cognitive skill deficits of: 1). Difficulty separating emotions from thinking. 2). Emotional responses impede capacity to effectively problem solve. 3). Difficulty expressing emotions, thoughts, needs, and concerns in words or being able to adaptively communicate with others. This information may assist in providing efficient and effective assessment and treatment of people who harm themselves, by narrowing the initial focus when determining cognitive skill deficits in individuals who engage in self-harming behaviors.


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