Addressing deliberate self-harm with EMDR: A case report


This is a case report of a sixteen-year-old adolescent Sri Lankan, Sinhalese girl who was referred for psychological interventions. She was diagnosed with moderate depression coupled with deliberate self-harm practices and psychological trauma related complaints. The DES scores during assessment were not high. Most of the manifestations of the complaints included regular acts of self-cutting and rage towards the parents over a period of two years. The self-harming practices had emerged after witnessing her parents being sexually intimate. Any triggers related to the incident experienced related to her parents sexual intimacy, brought about feelings of deep rage and self-harming behaviours. Following eight sessions of Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing her self -cutting behaviours significantly decreased. At the end of the eighth session, her anger towards the parents and feelings of depression ceased to a greater extent. Returning after the first session in which the assessment took place she did not report a single incident of cutting herself. The therapeutic outcomes were maintained at a 3 months follow up. The EMDR may be an effective treatment option in reducing repeated self-harm and depressive symptoms, where traumatic events are noted to be the precursor to deliberate self-harm. This case is special because the client was convinced she was having a problem that it was emotionally traumatising for her. Her willingness to continue with therapy without being defaulted even for a one session, contributed to the success achieved in treatment.






Chrishara Paranawithana

Original Work Citation

Paranawithana, C. (2014, January). Addressing deliberate self-harm with EMDR: A case report. In EMDR and depression/grief and mourning (Pamela Brown, Chair). Presentation at the 2nd EMDR Asia International Conference, Manila, The Philippines



“Addressing deliberate self-harm with EMDR: A case report,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 23, 2020,

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