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Helping Teens who Cut: Addressing Adolescent Self-Injurious Behavior

Total Credits: 2 including 2 American Psychological Association, 2 California Board of Registered Nurses

Child Trauma - Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) |  Prevention and Intervention
Lesley A. Slavin, Ph.D.
Course Levels:
2 Hours
Audio and Video


In the wake of the COVID19 Pandemic, there is growing concern about youth mental health, and particularly the rate of youth suicide and suicide attempts. When youth injure themselves intentionally, adults are understandably worried, and they may assume it is a suicide attempt. Episodes of cutting or other self-injurious behavior may include both suicidal intent, but it often does not. This workshop will provide a framework for understanding and intervening with self-injury that is based on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (Linehan, 1993; Miller, Rathus and Linehan, 2007) . It will provide practical guidelines that can be used to organize the way a youth's therapist, parents, and other members of the treatment team respond to incidents of self-injury and work with the youth to eliminate the behavior.

Objectives: After this training, participants will be able to:

  • Provide several valid explanations for why youth may engage in self-injurious behavior.
  • Identify validating and invalidating ways of responding to youth's concerns.
  • Describe some basic guidelines for intervening with youth who self-injure.

Orginally recorded as part of IVAT's Webinar Trainings



Lesley A. Slavin, Ph.D.'s Profile

Lesley A. Slavin, Ph.D. Related seminars and products

Chief Psychologist

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division (CAMHD), Hawaii State Department of Health

Lesley A. Slavin, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in working with children and adolescents who have severe emotional disturbances and their families. In August of 2021, Lesley retired from her position as Chief Psychologist for the Hawaii State Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division (CAMHD) after 18 years of service, and she has continued working in this area on a volunteer basis. Lesley earned her BA in Psychology from Tufts University in 1977 and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Vermont in 1985. She has worked as a faculty member, and she practiced as a clinician and supervisor for eleven years as part of a community mental health team in New Hampshire before moving to Hawai`i. While at CAMHD, Lesley worked to develop policy and promote system improvement, wrote and administered grants, and supervised the division’s clinical psychologists. She provided training and clinical consultation in areas such as trauma informed care, trauma treatment, evidence-based services, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Lesley provided training regularly to Hawaii Mental Health providers on how to use concepts from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to address the needs of youth with severe challenges. DBT is a strongly evidence-based treatment for suicidal and parasuicidal behavior in adults, and there is growing evidence of effectiveness with adolescents. In the past, Lesley facilitated a weekly Adolescent Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) consultation team and provided both individual and group DBT treatment to adolescents in an outpatient setting. Lesley has pursued Continuing Education training on DBT, including attending a week-long intensive workshop on the adolescent DBT model, led by Alec Miller, Ph.D., the person who adapted Linehan’s (1993) DBT approach for use with adolescents. Most recently, she facilitated a monthly consultation/training session for therapists in CAMHD programs on Hawaii Island.