There are no psychosocial therapies of any kind that have a strong evidence base for reducing suicidal or self-harm tendencies in adolescents, according to a review of the scientific literature by Harvard University psychologists published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.
“The purpose of this study was to review the current evidence base of psychosocial treatments for suicidal and nonsuicidal self-injurious thoughts and behaviors in youth,” wrote the researchers. They found and examined 29 relevant studies published prior to June 2013. “No interventions currently meet the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology standards for Level 1: well-established treatments,” they concluded.
They identified six types of treatment as “probably” or “possibly” efficacious, including cognitive-behavioral, family, interpersonal, and psychodynamic therapies. The evidence to support even this weak level of endorsement, however, was sparse. “(T)he probably/possibly efficacious treatments identified each have evidence from only a single randomized controlled trial.”
The researchers suggested that, “Future research should focus on replicating studies of promising treatments, identifying active treatment ingredients, examining mediators and moderators of treatment effects, and developing brief interventions for high-risk periods (e.g., following hospital discharge).”
(Abstract) Evidence-Based Psychosocial Treatments for Self-Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors in Youth (Glenn, Catherine R. et al. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. Published online September 25, 2014. DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2014.945211)