The Psychology of Self-Injury

Parenting Youth Who Self-Injure, with Dr. Janis Whitlock

Episode Summary

Janis Whitlock, PhD, from Cornell University and Senior Advisor for The JED Foundation explains what parents and caregivers should look for if they suspect their child is engaging in self-injury. She also discusses how caregivers can effectively talk to their child about self-injury and when to seek therapy.

Episode Notes

If you suspect that your child might be engaging in self-injury, how do you start the conversation and how often should you check in with your child so that you are not being too invasive? How can parents safely set rules if they fear their child might self-injure in response to these rules? In this episode, we answer these questions and more as we talk about how parents and loved ones can foster healing for their children who self-injure as well as for themselves.

Dr. Whitlock’s book “Healing Self-Injury: A Compassionate Guide for Parents and Other Loved Ones” is available on Amazon ( Dr. Whitlock is a Research Scientist in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research at Cornell University and the founder and director of the Self-Injury & Recovery Resources (SIRR) research program, which serves as one of the best and most comprehensive collations of online resources about self-injury: It is a go-to resource for parents, therapists, friends, family members, schools, other caring adults, the media, and individuals with lived experience of self-injury. Follow them on Instagram @cornell_crpsir. 

Dr. Whitlock is also Senior Advisor for The JED Foundation. To learn more about The JED Foundation, visit

Follow Dr. Westers on Instagram and Twitter (@DocWesters). To join ISSS, visit and follow ISSS on Facebook and Twitter (@ITripleS).