Self-Compassion and Recovery from Non-Suicidal Self-Injury: A Qualitative Analysis of Views from those with Lived Experience

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Gomez, Jenny

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University of Guelph


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a common and worrisome behaviour that is most often utilized to cope with difficult and overwhelming emotions. While there have been recent efforts to better understand the process of recovery from self-injury, further exploration is required in order to fully understand the nuances of this personal and unique process. One area that has shown promise with regard to self-injury recovery is self-compassion. Self-compassion is thought to be related to the recovery process through its emphasis on the capacity to meet adversity with increased kindness, connection, and an openness to being fully present, yet not overwhelmed, by painful experiences. The purpose of this dissertation was to better understand the role of self-compassion in NSSI recovery. It encompasses two studies, both of which focus on understanding the above through the lens of individuals with lived NSSI experience. Study one (chapter two), seeks to gain a better understanding of how self-compassion presents within accounts of NSSI recovery. Data for this study were obtained using in-person, audio recorded interviews and were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis. Study two (chapter three) builds on this and involves an exploration of how, from a lived experience perspective, individuals define and understand self-compassion. Also explored were barriers and facilitators of self-compassion development. Study two utilized online, short answer survey questions as a way of gathering lived experience perspectives and was also analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis. Overall, this research further contributes to the ongoing understanding of NSSI recovery, specifically, the role that self-compassion plays, as conveyed by individuals with lived experience.



NSSI, Self-Injury, Self-Compassion