Announcing the Self-Injury Institute

KISI logo, (c) 2013 Kahn Institute for Self-Injury, used by permission. Any external use requires separate permission.Non-suicidal self-injury is newly in the DSM-5, which is a welcome change reflecting a new scientific understanding of the phenomenon. It just isn’t where you might expect it, as I wrote last week on the new blog for my friend and colleague Angela Kahn’s new institute: The Self-Injury Institute.

I’ve been lamenting over the past few months that as the dynamic first-generation leaders in the family therapy profession have been passing on, there really haven’t been loud, passionate voices ready to take their places. Kahn, however, is just such a voice. She offers a full-throated defense of family-based treatment for most cases of self-injury. The crowded rooms and warm receptions she has received at conferences put on by NAMI, AAMFT-CA, and AAMFT show just how much of a hunger there is for her work and her insight.

Based in Los Angeles, SII was born partly out of necessity. There are few places in the country specializing in self-injury treatment, and few if any of them seem to offer what Kahn does: An understanding and treatment of self-injury based in family dynamics. As word of her family-based treatment has spread, she has found herself with more clients than she can take on — and no one who provides similar local services who she could refer clients to.

The Institute is starting with trainings and treatment. KISI offers family-based, outpatient therapy for self-injury through Kahn and several registered MFT interns. The first official KISI training for mental health professionals will be July 12 in Los Angeles, with Kahn herself as the instructor. Complete information and registration is at

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been assisting the Institute in getting started, and hold the title of Fellow there. But it’s a volunteer role, and I would be happily cheering SII on even if I weren’t directly involved. This institute will be great for the family therapy profession, and more importantly, for the many families struggling with self-harm who have spent far too much time with diagnoses that don’t really match their problems, and in treatments that, far too often, don’t work.

Welcome to the world, SII. We need you.

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Your comments are welcomed. You can post them in the comments below, or email me at ben[at]bencaldwell[dot]com.