Attachment Orientation, Affect Regulation, and Coping Styles in Young Adults with Persistent, Transient, or Absent History of Deliberate Self-Harm
Gelinas, Bethany Lee
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The prevalence of deliberate self-harm (DSH) is on the rise, making clinicians more likely than ever to encounter DSH in their clinical practice (Klonsky, 2007; Nock, 2009), and consequently making research that informs such clinical practice increasingly vital. Past research has neglected to adequately explore the differences between absent, persistent, and transient DSH histories and the factors related to increased DSH frequency. Attachment orientation, coping styles, and affect regulation have been implicated as important to adjustment and psychopathology; however, the role of these constructs in DSH and specifically whether they can be successfully applied to explain the differences between DSH histories has yet to be explored. The purposes of this study were fourfold: (1) investigate the relationship between attachment orientation and likelihood of persistent, transient, or absent DSH; (2) determine whether motivations for engaging in self-harm, coping styles and affect regulation differ according to the individuals’ type of self-harm history; (3) investigate which constructs (attachment orientation, coping styles, affect regulation, or motivations) were most predictive of a particular self-harm history; and (4) develop a better understanding of the offset of DSH behaviour and how individuals managed to cease this behaviour. A battery of questionnaires was administered via an online survey to 139 university students in order to gain a better understanding of the relationship between these constructs and DSH history and frequency. The relative importance and predictive utility of these constructs, the differences between DSH histories, and the information obtained on DSH cessation could contribute to more successful treatment and more efficacious prevention. Findings are discussed in terms of clinical and scientific implications.