Finding out that your teenager is cutting herself or himself often comes as a frightening surprise to parents. Confused parents wonder why their teen would be cutting themselves. Teens usually explain that they engage in cutting behaviors as a way to distract themselves from, control or alleviate the emotional pain they are experiencing. For them, cutting becomes an unhealthy coping mechanism that helps to regulate feelings and emotions through physical harm. But what starts as a compulsive attempt to make the teen feel better, can become an addictive behavior as the brain releases endorphins when the emotional pain the teenager feels becomes a physical release.
Teen therapists and teen counselors at GroundWork Counseling in Orlando explain that adolescents typically begin to cut or engage in other self-harming behaviors in their early teens, or even in their pre-teen years. Counselors fine that teens are often introduced to cutting by peer groups or learn about cutting and self-harming behaviors from Internet sites that glorify cutting and sucidal ideation. Also, many celebrities who are role models for some teenagers have come out with their stories of self-harm, including Angelina Jolie, Demi Lovato, Amy Winehouse, Megan Fox, and Johnny Depp.
GroundWork Counseling’s Orlando teen counselors explain that self-harming methods can also include skin picking, burning, scratching, biting, purging, and hitting. However, cutting is the most common method of self-injury.
A recent study printed in the journal Pediatrics asserted that 7.6 of third graders and 12.7 percent of ninth graders engaged in self-harming behaviors. The study found that teenage girls were three times more likely to cut themselves or engage in other self-harming behavior than teenage boys.
Risk factors for cutting or other self-harming behaviors include:
- Friends who cut
- Strong, extreme emotional reactions to various situations
- Difficulty expressing emotions
- Poor coping skills
- Poor impulse control
- Teen Depression
- Teen Anxiety
- Experiencing a difficult event such as a divorce or death in the family
- Breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend
- Feeling that no one understands them
- Loosing a friend
- Being bullied
If you have learned that your teenager is cutting herself or self-harming in any way, it is important to remain calm, non-confrontational, and nonjudgmental and immediately seek out the help of a mental health professional who has experience with this issue. An experienced teen counselor can help your adolescent learn healthier coping skills, so she can better deal with anxiety, depression, peer relationships, and other distressing emotions in the future. Counseling and therapy during adolescence can help teenagers change and improve the way they think of themselves, and about situations and circumstances so they can make the necessary changes that will help them to feel better and cope with their emotions in healthier ways.
It is important to note that many teenagers who cut themselves do not intend to cause themselves serious injury and typically do not intend to commit suicide, however this can be a cry for help. And some teens do indeed have suciiadal thoughts during this act. However, if your teenager’s self-injury is severe and poses a potential risk it is important to contact emergency medical services immediately by dialing 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando we have counselors who have experience working with teens who cut and self-harm, and offer family support and guidance as well as teen intervention through coping skills and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Meet Our Team of Orlando Counselors at GroundWork Counseling
Speak With A Counselor Directly – 407-378-3000