Teen and Adolescent Self Injury

Posted on September 11, 2011

Teens are under incredible stress.  From keeping up in school to friends and peer pressure to and an array extra-curricular activities, teens have many areas in which to excel and feel pressure.  Problems with teens can arise when they cannot properly deal with all of the stress they are under.  There are several reasons that teens self injure, and the more you understand the better able you will be to help.

Why do teens self injure?

·         It is a method of coping with life stress.

·         Relief from feelings

·         Control over their body

·         Self-punishment

·         Expressing pain outwardly

Psychological Factors

Self injury is believed to regulate emotions by relieving pain and hurt. It is easier to deal with physical pain than emotional pain. For some, the only way to release the pressure that builds up inside is through self injury.

•      Relieving anger: many self-injurers have bottled up anger and are afraid to express it outwardly, so they injure themselves as a way of venting these feelings.

•      Escaping numbness: many who self-injure do it in order to feel something, to know that they’re still alive.

•      Sense of security: self injury is always available.

•      Punishing oneself for being “bad“.

•      Diverting attention to physical pain rather than painful inner feelings

•      A sense of control over one’s body

 

How to Talk to a Self Injuer

•      Offer support by talking to your teen and being understanding.

•      Don’t focus too much on the method of self injury; instead, focus on the emotional experience they are going through.

•      Be there for them if they want to talk, but don’t pressure to talk or show you their scars. 

•      Let them know that you will be available to listen when they’re ready to talk. 

Rebecca Heger is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor in the Indianapolis area.

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==