Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

LaVonne Fox


Self Mutilation -- psychology; Self Mutilation -- therapy; Self-Injurious Behavior -- psychology; Self-Injurious Behavior -- therapy


“It is estimated that one to two million people in the United States intentionally and repeatedly bruise, cut, burn, mark, scratch and mutilate different parts of their own bodies. This estimate represents only the adolescents and adults who actually seek help for the behavior” (Ferentz, 2002). The reasons for self-mutilation behaviors span across a considerable range from post-traumatic stress disorder to hypersensitivity. The research indicates parallels between children who have been sexually, physically, or emotionally abused and self-mulitlation. Basically, it is an unhealthy coping strategy to deal with overwhelming and intense feelings. The current treatment regime varies and includes: medication, dialectical behavioral therapy, interpersonal group and talk therapies with the goal focusing on learning healthy coping strategies.

There is another approach for consideration: the use of sensory integrative techniques. The research was extremely limited but the fundamental assumptions of sensory integrative therapy lent itself to the challenges of self-regulation and modulation of the sensory system in the individual with self-mutilative behaviors. The purpose of this scholarly project was to review the literature regarding common diagnoses that included self-injurious behaviors and differentiated the purpose and relief the populations were receiving from self-injuring. Based upon the information elicited, a treatment protocol for sensory integrative techniques was developed that could be implemented in a facility for accommodating and recognizing the differences amongst those whose exhibit self-mutilative behaviors.

The results include a Sensory Integration Protocol for individuals who engage in self-mutilation. The Protocol includes treatment sessions using sensory integration techniques to reduce the amount of self-injury in clientele focusing on self-regulation and modulation and offer a different approach for consideration in coping strategies.