The role of coping self-efficacy in emotion regulation and frequency of NSSI in young adult college students

Melanie F. Midkiff, Cynthia R. Lindsey, Elizabeth A. Meadows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Among young adults, nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a common emotion regulation (ER), or coping, strategy. Most studies have sought to clarify the role of self-injury as a coping strategy, and while this research is central to the understanding of those who self-injure, factors that influence coping behaviors may affect treatment and prevention efforts. This study examined the mediational effect of coping self-efficacy (CSE) on the relationship between emotion dysregulation and frequency of NSSI. The sample included 187 self-injuring university students between the ages of 18–26, and was predominately female (76.5%) and Caucasian (67.4%). Participants completed the Difficulties with Emotion Regulation Scale, the Coping Self-Efficacy Scale, and the Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Assessment Tool. Results indicated that CSE did not act as a mediator between difficulty with ER and frequency of NSSI. However, greater difficulty with ER predicted increased frequency in NSSI. These results highlight the importance of ER skills in the prevention and cessation of NSSI. It is imperative that mental health practitioners working with young adults focus on actual skill building rather than increasing CSE, as increased ER skills are likely to both increase CSE and reduce NSSI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalCogent Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Nonsuicidal self-injury
  • college students
  • coping self-efficacy
  • counseling
  • emotion regulation
  • self-harm


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