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Deliberate self-injury. A consumer-therapist co-run group. A choice or a necessity?

  • Efrosini D. Kokaliari (a1) and Kristen Lanzano (a2)

Aims — This aim of this paper is to discuss a consumer -therapist co-run pilot group on self-injury held at an American college. Deliberate self-injury has come to be a common phenomenon in schools and colleges. However the treatment and understanding of self-injury still remains a challenge. Most people who self-injure remain hidden in society and do not seek therapy, due to the shame-filled stereotypes and misconceptions that surround self-injury. Group therapy has been discussed as ineffective by many in the mental health field while individual treatment has been controversial for decades. Method — The paper will discuss how this group treatment was informed by consumer empowerment philosophy and how consumer and therapist facilitators worked together to turn it into a healing experience. Results — This group was indeed challenging but confirmed that consumer- run programs are able to function as a catalyst to facilitate healing. It confirmed that breaking away from traditional models that allocate all power and hope for change to professionals might not only be an important step but, in cases such as treatment of self-injury, a necessity.

Declaration of Interest: none.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Dr. E.D. Kokaliari. Social Work Department, Elms College, 291 Springfield street, Chicopee, MA 01013 (USA). Fax: +413-5948996 E-mail:
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Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
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