This research was aimed at the lack of knowledge with regards to the nature, causes and disruptive behavioural patterns as a consequence of adolescents with self-destructive behaviour, and the way in which it limits effective intervention. A lack of research and literature, especially within the South-African context, contributes to this lack of knowledge. As a result, therapists tend to distance themselves, misinterpret and even ignore this behaviour. Some therapists, especially social workers, fear this behaviour, are frustrated by and even disapprove of clients who present self-destructive behaviour. The goal of this study was to address the lack of knowledge with regards to self-destructive behaviour in adolescents within a social work perspective. A knowledge framework has been developed by investigating the nature, causes and disruptive behavioural problems as a consequence in adolescents, which will serve as a reference for therapists. In order to reach the required goal, a number of objectives were set. This included the development of a knowledge framework by means of a literature study as well as consultation with experts in the field of self-destructive behaviour in adolescents. An empirical study was undertaken during which a collective case study was utilised as strategy for the gathering of data. During these interviews, the researcher tried to gather information about the nature, causes and disruptive behavioural problems as a consequence in adolescents who demonstrate with this behaviour. Three participants took part and the three case studies were compared. Applied research was used as the researcher aimed to explore the problem (namely adolescents with self-destructive behaviour) scientifically in order to develop a knowledge framework. The researcher used a qualitative research approach and in this way, qualitative empirical information was gathered. This study embraced research of a relatively unknown research field. This led to the researcher utilising an exploratory study design in order to investigate a research question, which comprises of limited information. The research question that was formulated for the means of this research was: What are the nature, causes and disruptive behavioural problems as a consequence of self-destructive behaviour in adolescents? Empirical data was gathered by means of case studies and led to the development of a research framework which contains the following information: 1. The nature of self-destructive behaviour 2. The causes of self-destructive behaviour 3. The link between self-destructive behaviour and suicide 4. The “therapeutic value” of self-destructive behaviour Thus, the research indicated that adolescent self-destructive behaviour is a common problem which therapists must face without appropriate knowledge and skills. Therefore, it is of outmost importance that social workers be trained accordingly in order to handle the problem of self-destructive behaviour in a constructive manner.
Dissertation (MSD (Play Therapy))--University of Pretoria, 2006.