Rings, Jeffrey A.

Committee Member

Softas-Nall, Basilia

Committee Member

Cardona, Vilma

Committee Member

Middleton, Valerie A.


Applied Psychology and Counselor Education


University of Northern Colorado

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Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



291 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


This dissertation study was written and conducted to explore the connections between racial identity and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) that people of color experienced during adolescence. This was explored through the use of a phenomenological, qualitative methodology. The researcher accessed individuals of color through online websites, forums, and blogs, and additionally through contacting diversity related cultural centers on university campuses. Individuals completed a prescreening questionnaire, and were then contacted to take part in semi-structured, individual interviews. Eight individuals described at length their experiences with their racial identity development and their experiences with NSSI. The following six themes regarding their experiences with their racial identity, their NSSI use, and the intersection of the two emerged through the analysis process: a) “Racial Undertones:” Coming into One’s Racial Identity, b) “I thought I was dealing with the problem:” Exploration of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury, c) The Intersection between Race and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury, d) Because she wouldn’t understand:” When Support is Missing, e) When Support is Provided, and f) We Shall Overcome! They additionally provided recommendations for the field of counseling psychology regarding this phenomena. The connections the themes had to current literature were then described, as well as the implications that can be drawn from the themes. Some of these implications include internalized racism playing a role in the use of non-suicidal self-injury among the participants, as well as ways the field of counseling psychology needs to attend to race and intersectionality. This dissertation ended with a discussion of the limitations.

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