The internet and self-injury: what psychotherapists should know

J Clin Psychol. 2007 Nov;63(11):1135-43. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20420.


The Internet affords information gathering and sharing previously impossible. For individuals who practice self-injury, this capacity allows rapid identification of others with shared history, experience, and practices. For many of those who self-injure, the ability to find others like themselves reduces the isolation and loneliness that so often characterizes the behavior. For others, however, active participation in online communities may effectively substitute for the real work required to develop positive coping and healthy relationships. Our experience suggests that regular assessment of self-injury Internet use is uncommon in therapeutic settings. Proliferation of self-injury message boards, informational Web sites, blogs, and YouTube posts is a clinical challenge. In this article, we review the research on self-injury and Internet use and then make a series of recommendations for clinicians.

MeSH terms

  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Communication*
  • Confidentiality
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Loneliness / psychology
  • Psychology, Clinical
  • Psychotherapy* / methods
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / diagnosis
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology*
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / therapy*
  • Social Isolation / psychology