Tag Archives: Janis Whitlock

The Cornell Research Program for Self-Injury Recovery is pleased to announce a unique set of evidence-informed and web-based education and training courses for individuals interested in understanding non-suicidal self-injury (also sometimes referred to as “cutting”) in youth. The courses are ideal for professionals who work directly with youth in schools or other community-based settings but will also be useful for clinicians and parents.

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury 101 (NSSI 101) was designed especially for professionals who work in schools or other youth-serving settings. Based on current, cutting-edge science, this training includes detailed information on the who, what, where, when and why of self-injury as well as evidence-informed strategies for detecting, intervening, treating and preventing. It also includes strategies for supporting the development of protocols for managing self-injury in school and other institutional settings.

This can be taken for continuing education credits (CEUs) from Cornell University or from the National Association of Social Workers. It is available as a self-paced course or as a 3-week facilitated course.

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury 101: A Web-Based Training

NSSI 101 can be taken as a self-paced or instructor-led course, is designed for individuals who need to know a significant amount about what self-injury is, where it comes from, what it is clinically associated with, how to respond individually and institutionally, and best practices in intervention and prevention.

There are two versions of the full 8-11 hour NSSI 101 course: a self-paced version and an instructor-led version. Both versions include videos, audio segments from well-known self-injury researchers and treatment specialists assignments and quizzes. The course will take between 8 and 11 hours, depending on the format you choose. There are discounts for students, groups, and parents. Scroll down for more information on discounts.

The content for the course is the same regardless of format but the facilitated version:

  • Offers a higher number of CEUs
  • Will allow discussion and strategies exchange with other students and with the instructor, an expert in NSSI
  • Allows for international participation and exchange
  • Increases the likelihood of course completion, since there are expectations about progress over the 3 week period.

Please note that we are working with Cornell’s premier e-education service provider, e-Cornell, to make this offering possible so you will be asked to sign up for an account at e-Cornell when you register.

What’s covered?
The course is designed to provide participants with broad grounding in non-suicidal self-injury, particularly as it shows up in adolescence and young adulthood. It contains material related to:

  • Adolescent development: Although a review for some of you, this section focuses on the features of brain, body, and identity development that affect self-injury onset, maintenance and recovery in the adolescent and young adult years. Since self-injury is most common during this time, understanding the way they are linked is useful.
  • Non-suicidal self-injury basics: In this section we get into the who, what, where, when and why of self-injury. We also discuss the important but poorly understood relationship between non-suicidal self-injury and suicide thoughts and behaviors, common myths, and factors that influence contagion.
  • Detection and intervention: Here we cover what you need to know about effective detection and responding, managing contagion, and common treatment approaches. There are also dedicated sections on effective intervention strategies and on and the nuts and bolts of developing protocols for handing self-injury in institutional settings.
  • Recovery: This section focuses primarily on how and why self-injury ends, what to expect as recovery happens, how you can best support the recovery process, and how self-injury can open opportunities for psychological growth.
  • Prevention: The final section covers prevention of self-injury behavior.

Are you a NYS Cornell cooperative extension educator?

All versions of Non-suicidal self-injury 101 are free to NYS Cornell cooperative extension educators. If you are an educator interested in enrolling in the course, please call (607) 255-6179 or e-mail us at self-injury@cornell.edu.

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Reprinted from the Cornell Chronicle, May 25th, 2016

By Olivia M. Hall

The cuts, burns and scars of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) are rarely seen, as they are inflicted in private and hidden under pant legs and sleeves.

Janis Whitlock

Janis Whitlock, Ph.D.

Janis Whitlock, Ph.D. ’03, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery (CRPSIR) and a research scientist in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, hopes to spotlight the issue by launching a set of web-based education and training courses. Working with eCornell, the university’s online learning subsidiary, she is showing how researchers can use the internet to broaden their reach well beyond campus.

The curriculum, aimed at individuals who interact with youths in school, community and clinical settings, as well as parents, offers research-based information paired with intervention and prevention strategies to address a phenomenon that is widespread but not yet fully understood.

“It’s a scary thing to encounter,” said Whitlock. “It’s just not your typical, run-of-the-mill risk behavior.”

Individuals practicing NSSI – upward of 15 percent of adolescents and young adults try it at least once – deliberately damage their bodies, for example by cutting, burning or carving their skin or punching objects or themselves to inflict harm. Whitlock cites 15 to 17 percent lifetime prevalence of NSSI among Cornell students, according to surveys.

Although the surface wounds may look like suicide attempts, Whitlock pointed out that NSSI is, in fact, a coping mechanism for individuals trying to deal with intense feelings or attempting to reconnect from a sense of dissociation that stems from a history of trauma or abuse.

After first hearing about NSSI among otherwise functional, nonclinical adolescents more than a decade ago, Whitlock launched epidemiological studies, founded CRPSIR and brought together colleagues to form the International Society for the Study of Self-Injury in 2006. “Now we have so much literature coming out, I can’t keep up with it,” she said. But research on techniques for intervention in schools and families is still nascent, and findings do not always reach those in need.

“When I give presentations in schools, even elementary schools, I can pack a house talking about self-injury – it’s really pretty sad,” said Whitlock. “People come up to me asking for follow-up information. Clearly we need another dissemination vehicle.”

Paul Krause ’91, CEO of eCornell and associate vice provost for online learning, agreed: “We quickly recognized that it would make sense to work together because eCornell has all the capabilities to support the development, delivery and marketing of an online NSSI course.”

Best known for its professional development courses in such areas as marketing, finance and hospitality, eCornell also applies its experience and best practices to specialized curricula such as Whitlock’s to extend research-based education to learners beyond Ithaca.

Some 40 participants have enrolled since the first, self-paced version of the NSSI 101 courselaunched in February. This month, Whitlock is facilitating co-experts on NSSI by teaching the first iteration of a three-week version that offers eight to 10 hours of interactive instruction and continuing education credits. Shorter, abridged courses are also in development for medical professionals and parents of children who self-injure.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us,” said Krause, under whose leadership eCornell doubled the number of faculty members it works with to more than 100 over the past year. “We have faculty who are leading experts in their fields. eCornell’s mission is to help them use online learning to reach people all over the world.” (Whitlock’s first registrant was from South Korea.)

“The audiences with whom we seek to engage – be they parents, educators or others – need information that is high-quality, based in sound research, is compelling and that they can access on their own schedule,” added Rachel Dunifon, associate dean for research and outreach in theCollege of Human Ecology. “Working with eCornell to deliver research-based programming allows us to take a cutting-edge approach to our public engagement mission, broadening our reach and enhancing our impact as we seek to fulfill our college mission of improving lives.”

Olivia M. Hall, Ph.D. '12, is a freelance writer and anthropologist.