cutting and self harm treatment centers

Warning Signs of Self-Harm in Teens

When parents should seek residential treatment for their teenager

Cutting and Self Harm Treatment Center for Teenagers

October 22, 2015

When children or teenagers deliberately harm themselves and individual therapy is not effective, parents should consider placement in a therapeutic, residential setting like Elk River Treatment Program. Removing the child from their comfort zone allows them to focus on underlying feelings or beliefs that drive maladaptive behaviors. Once identified, these unhealthy behaviors can be addressed and replaced by adaptive behaviors.

According to research reported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, self-injuries that resulted in emergency room visits grew from 1.1% to 1.6% between the years 2009 and 2012. The statistics represent information collected from a national trauma database of more than 286,000 10 – 18-year-olds that were treated in emergency rooms during that time period. The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Signs of self-injury

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, signs that might indicate that a teen has a problem with self-harming behavior include:

  • Cuts or burns on arms, legs and abdomens
  • Knives, razor blades or other sharp objects that are hidden
  • Isolation after a bad day at school or family conflict
  • Teen picks or pulls at skin, hair or wounds

Why do adolescents self-harm?

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry self-injury is a complex behavior and symptom that results from a variety of factors. Adolescents who have difficulty talking about their feelings may show their emotional tension, physical discomfort, pain and low self-esteem with self-injurious behaviors. Although some teenagers may feel like the steam in the pressure cooker has been released following the act of harming themselves, others may feel hurt, anger, fear and hate. The effects of peer pressure and contagion can also influence adolescents to injure themselves. Even though fads come and go, most of the wounds on the adolescents’ skin will be permanent. Occasionally, teenagers may hide their scars, burns and bruises due to feeling embarrassed, rejected or criticized about their physical appearance.

What can parents and teenagers do about self-injury?

Parents are encouraged to talk with their children about respecting and valuing their bodies. Parents should also serve as role models for their teenagers by not engaging in acts of self-harm. Some helpful ways for adolescents to avoid hurting themselves include learning to:

  • Accept reality and find ways to make the present moment more tolerable.
  • Identify feelings and talk them out rather than acting on them.
  • distract themselves from feelings of self-harm (for example, counting to ten, waiting 15 minutes, saying “NO!” or “STOP!,” practicing breathing exercises, journaling, drawing, thinking about positive images, using ice and rubber bands)
  • Stop, think, and evaluate the pros and cons of self-injury.
  • Soothe themselves in a positive, non-injurious, way.
  • Practice positive stress management.
  • Develop better social skills.

For more information about Elk River Treatment Program, contact an admissions adviser at 866-906-8336 (TEEN) or email [email protected].