Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy

Research Article

Resisting Urges to Self-Injure

E. David Klonskya1 c1 and Catherine R. Glenna1

a1 Stony Brook University, New York, USA


The present study explored whether and how self-injurers attempt to resist urges to harm themselves. Participants were 39 young adults with a history of skin cutting and other non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors. A structured interview assessed the prevalence and perceived helpfulness of 48 methods for resisting self-injurious urges. Ninety percent of participants indicated that they had made efforts to resist urges to self-injure. These individuals had used an average of 16 different methods, and reported that they were successful in resisting the urges most of the time. “Keeping busy” and “Being around friends” were the most common methods used to resist self-injurious urges. However, “Doing sports or exercise” and “Removing the means/instruments typically used to self-harm from the home” were rated as being the most helpful for resisting self-injurious urges. Findings have implications for enhancing treatment and guiding future research.


c1 Reprint requests to E. David Klonsky, Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794-2500, USA. E-mail: