How to cure teen and adult cutting

How to cure teen and adult cutting

Cutting help and cutting treatment is available and is effective. Self-injury cutting is a possibly lethal form of self-harm that injures many people per year.

Cutting treatment can be provided in residential facilities, in outpatient programs, in groups or even one-on-one. Anyone who wants to stop self-harm can do it by engaging with cutting help and treatment for cutting.

Cutting is any form of self-harm that breaks the skin and causes bleeding. Any form of cutting should be taken seriously because while likely not a direct suicide attempt, self-harm is correlated with a higher-than-average risk of suicide. (More on self-harm and suicide and the effects of self-injury)

Inpatient Cutting Help

Some facilities offer inpatient (live-in) cutting help and treatment. This type of cutting treatment might be a good idea for someone who has previously tried and had unsuccessful treatment or for someone who frequently cuts and believes they cannot stop without direct supervision. An inpatient cutting treatment program may include: 1

  • Different types of therapy such as individual, group and family
  • Self-injury evaluation
  • Impulse control management classes
  • Education on self-harm
  • Medication management (where needed)
  • Case management
  • Collaboration with other professionals
  • Planning for care after leaving the facility

Programs that offer cutting treatment often involve multiple professionals to aid in care. Part of the program might be:

  • A psychiatrist
  • A psychologist
  • A registered nurse
  • Support staff
  • Specialized therapists

Inpatient programs can be very expensive ($20-30,000/month) and intense and so require a commitment on the part of the patient that they do want to stop cutting and will try their hardest during cutting treatment.

Outpatient Cutting Treatment

Some cutting treatment programs are still very intensive but operate on an outpatient basis; where the patient attends treatment during the day but continues to live at home. This type of cutting help often includes similar types of services to inpatient cutting treatment but requires greater individual responsibility over not cutting due to the lesser oversight.

When attending cutting treatment, the patient is often asked to sign a document promising they will not harm themselves while in the program. A patient may also be asked to identify alternative self-injury coping methods up-front and be expected to use these instead of self-harming. (Self-Injury Self-Help: Self Help Coping Skills for Self Harm)

Therapeutic Cutting Help

A person may instead elect to seek out less intensive cutting therapy. This may be in the form of group therapy or individual counseling. Therapists who are licensed and specialize in self-harm are the best choice for cutting help. This type of therapy might be found through a treatment center but can also be found in the community or through mental health organizations. Common forms of therapy for cutting treatment include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy

Medication Cutting Help

Medication is rarely prescribed for cutting treatment, when cutting or self-harm is the only problem present. Many people who cut, however, also have underlying mental illnesses and so those must be treated when undergoing treatment. These underlying illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, depression or borderline personality disorder, may require the use of psychiatric medication and other specialized treatment.

Cutting — using a sharp object like a razorblade, knife, or scissors to make marks, cuts, or scratches on one’s own body — is a form of self-injury.

It can be hard to understand why anyone would hurt himself or herself on purpose. Learning that your own teen is doing it can leave you feeling shocked and upset — and not sure what to do or how to help.

About Cutting

For most, cutting is an attempt to interrupt strong emotions and pressures that seem impossible to tolerate. It can be related to broader emotional issues that need attention. Most of the time, cutting is not a suicide attempt.

Cutting affects many teens and preteens — even beyond those who self-injure. Many teens worry about a friend who cuts or face pressure from peers to try cutting as a daring thing to do.

In many cases, cutting and the emotions that go along with it are something teens struggle with alone. But because of growing awareness, more teens can get the help they need.

Parents can help teens who cut — and the earlier, the better. Cutting can be habit-forming, and sadly, many people underestimate the risks of getting seriously sick or hurt that go along with it.

What Parents Can Do

If your teen is cutting, there ways to help. By coping with your own feelings, learning about cutting, finding professional help, and just being there to love and believe in your teen, you’ll provide the calm, steady support that he or she needs.

Accept your own emotions. If you know or suspect that your teen is cutting, it’s natural to feel a whole range of emotions. You might feel shocked, angry, sad, disappointed, confused, or scared. You might feel hurt that your teen didn’t come to you for help or feel guilty that you didn’t know about it. All of these emotions are completely understandable. But it’s not your fault, and it’s not your teen’s fault.

Take time to identify your own feelings and find a way to express them. This might mean having a good cry, talking with a friend, or going for a walk to let off steam or quietly reflect. If you feel overwhelmed, talking with a therapist can help you sort things through and gain some perspective so that you can provide the support your teen needs.

Learn all you can about cutting. Find out all you can about cutting, why teens do it, and what can help them stop. Some teens cut because of peer pressure — and once they start, they can’t easily stop. Other teens feel pressure to be perfect and struggle to accept failures or mistakes. And still others contend with powerful moods like anger, sadness, worthlessness, and despair that feel hard to control or too heavy to bear. Cutting is sometimes the result of trauma and painful experiences that no one knows about.

It can hurt to think that your child might experience any of these feelings. As difficult as it is, try to keep in mind that exploring what pressures prompt your teen to self-injure is a necessary step toward healing.

Communication Is Key

Talk to your child. It can be hard to talk about such a painful topic. You may not know what you’re going to say. That’s OK. What you say won’t be nearly as important as how you say it. To open the conversation, you might simply say that you know about the cutting, and then convey your concern, love, and your willingness to help your child stop.

It will probably be hard for your teen to talk about it, too. He or she might feel embarrassed or ashamed, or worried about how you’ll react or what the consequences might be. You can help ease these worries by asking questions and listening to what your teen has to say without reacting with punishment, scolding, or lectures.

Let your teen know that cutting is often related to painful experiences or intense pressures, and ask what difficult issues your teen may be facing. Your teen might not be ready to talk about it or even know why he or she cuts. Even if that’s the case, explain that you want to understand and find ways to help.

Don’t be surprised if your teen resists your efforts to talk about cutting. He or she might deny cutting, get angry or upset, cry, yell, or storm off. A teen might clam up or say that you just don’t understand. If something like this happens, try to stay calm and patient. Don’t give up — find another time to communicate and try again.

Seek professional help. It’s important to seek assistance from a qualified mental health professional who can help you understand why your teen cuts, and also help your teen heal old hurts and develop new coping skills.

Therapy can allow teens to tell their stories, put their difficult experiences into words, and learn skills to deal with stresses that are part of life. Therapy also can help identify any underlying mental health condition that needs evaluation and treatment. For many teens, cutting is a clue to depression or bipolar (mood) problems, unresolved grief, compulsive behaviors, or struggles with perfectionism.

It’s important to find a therapist your teen can feel open and comfortable with. If you need help finding someone, your doctor or a school counselor might be able to provide guidance.

Staying Positive

Offer encouragement and support. While your teen is getting professional help, stay involved in the process as much as possible. Ask the therapist to guide you in how to talk with and support your teen. And ask your teen how you can best help.

For example, it may help to:

  • Let your teen know you’ll be there to talk to when feelings are painful or troubles seem too hard to bear.
  • Help your teen create a plan for what to do instead of cutting when pressures get strong.
  • Encourage your teen to talk about everyday experiences and put feelings, needs, disappointments, successes, and opinions into words.
  • Be there to listen, comfort, and help your teen think of solutions to problems and offer support when troubles arise.
  • Spend time together doing something fun, relaxing, or just hanging out. You might take a walk, go for a drive, share a snack, or run some errands.
  • Focus on positives. While it helps to talk about troubles, avoid dwelling on them. Make sure what’s good about life gets airtime, too.

Set a good example. Be aware that you can influence how your child responds to stress and pressure by setting a good example. Notice how you manage your own emotions and deal with everyday frustrations, stress, and pressure. Notice whether you tend to put others down, or are self-critical or quick to anger. Consider making changes in any patterns you wouldn’t want your teen to imitate.

Be patient and be hopeful. Finding out that your teen is cutting may be the beginning of a long process. It can take time to stop cutting — and sometimes a teen doesn’t want to stop or isn’t ready to make the changes it involves.

To stop cutting takes motivation and determination. It also takes self-awareness and practicing new skills to manage pressures and emotional distress. These things can take time and often require professional help.

As a parent, you might need to be patient. With the proper guidance, love, and support, know that your teen can stop cutting and learn healthy ways to cope.

How to cure teen and adult cutting

Statistics on teen cutting are hard to come by because so few studies have been done on the subject.

Broad estimates are that about one percent of the total U.S. population, or between 2 and 3 million people, exhibit some type of self-abusive behavior. But that number includes those with eating disorders like anorexia, as well as those who self injure. (1)

A 2002 study published in the British Medical Journal estimated that 13 percent of British 15- and 16-year-olds purposely injure themselves. (2)

In the U.S., it’s estimated that one in every 200 girls between 13 and 19 years old, or one-half of one percent, cut themselves regularly. Those who cut comprise about 70 percent of teen girls who self injure.

Two of the most alarming facts about teen cutting are these:

  • the number of cases is on the rise, and
  • without treatment, many who begin cutting themselves as teens will continue the behavior well into their adult years.

Treatment visits for teens who self injure have doubled over the past three years. And those numbers are expected to grow as life becomes more complex for teenagers. Directors at self-injury treatment programs refer to this growth trend as an epidemic that reaches even into middle schools.

The profile of a typical self-injurer looks like this. She’s female in her mid-20’s to early 30s, and has been cutting herself since her teens. She’s intelligent , middle or upper-middle class, and well educated. She also comes from a home where she was physically and/or sexually abused and has at least one alcoholic parent. (3)

A 2008 publication by the US National Library of Medicine reports the following nonsuicidal self injury (NSSI) statistics: (5)

  • 1/3 to 1/2 of US adolescents have engaged in some type of self injury.
  • Cutting and burning are the most common types of non-suicidal self-injury.
  • 70% of teens engaging in self-injury behavior have made at least one suicide attempt.
  • 55% had made multiple suicide attempts.
  • 55% of self-injurers said, “I wanted to get my mind off my problems”. (5)
  • 45% said, “It helped me to release tension or stress and relax”. (5)

Parents who discover their child is cutting typically are shocked and immediately blame themselves for failing as a parent. Therapists say that parental self-blame is NOT helpful.

Remember, cutting is a behavioral sign of a deeper underlying problem. The goal should not be to get your child to “stop cutting,” but to treat the deeper problem so your teen develops more mature coping skills and no longer feels the need to self-injure.

Here are some tips for dealing with this serious issue.

Don’t

  • React with anger.
  • Go into denial about the problem.
  • Assume this is a “phase” your teen will outgrow.
  • Say “What did I do wrong as a mother (father) for you to do this to yourself.”
  • Ask “Why are you doing this to yourself?”
  • Try to hide sharp objects. It’s an ineffective deterrent. If your child wants to self-injure, he or she will probably find a way.

Do

  • Admit you and your child need help.
  • Take the problem very seriously. This is not just attention-seeking behavior.
  • Be completely supportive.
  • Immediately seek treatment for your child.

If you suspect your teen is cutting, talk to your family physician or your local public health department to find a mental health treatment program that can help.

Parents are cautioned to understand that treatment probably won’t simply be a matter of medication and/or a few visits with a therapist. Treatment often includes medication combined with individual and family therapy over a sustained period of time.

Don’t assume that your child is “okay” once he’s in treatment and making progress. As with treatment for any habitual behavior, setbacks are not uncommon. Some teens report cutting episodes even after a year of therapy, although episodes typically become less and less frequent the longer a teen is in treatment.

Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.

Adah Chung is a fact checker, writer, researcher, and occupational therapist.

Cutting is a type of self-harm in which teens deliberately cut or scratch themselves with knives, razor blades, or other sharp objects, but not with any intention of trying to commit suicide.

Other self-harm behaviors can include head-banging, branding or burning their skin, overdosing on medications, and strangulation.

These behaviors are more common than you might think with an estimated range of 6.4% to 30.8% of teens admitting to trying to harm themselves.  

Why Teens Cut Themselves

Parents and pediatricians often have a hard time understanding why teens would cut or do other things to harm themselves. Not surprisingly, cutting is a complex behavioral problem and is often associated with a variety of psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.   Teens who cut themselves are more likely to have friends who cut themselves, low self-esteem, a history of abuse, and/or thoughts of committing suicide.

While it is sometimes seen as an attention-seeking behavior, cutting is a way for kids to release tension, relieve feelings of sadness or anger, or distract themselves from their problems.

Of course, any relief is only temporary. While some teens who cut may have a friend who cuts or may have read about it or seen it on TV, most kids who start cutting say that they were not influenced by anyone or anything else and came up with the idea themselves.

Signs of Cutting

Cutting is most common in teens and young adults—especially among teen girls—and often starts around age 12-14.  

Teens who cut themselves are usually described as being impulsive. Some are also described as being overachievers.

In terms of warning signs and red flags, your teen may be cutting if she:

  • Always wears long-sleeved shirts or long pants (even when the weather is warm) to cover new cutting marks or older scars on her arms, wrists, or thighs (those are common areas of the body where cutting occurs)
  • Routinely has suspicious cuts, scratches, or burns on her belly, legs, wrists, or arms
  • Is developing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or alcohol abuse  
  • Has trouble controlling her emotions (like if your teen doesn’t know how to handle herself when she feels sad or angry)

If you think that your child is cutting, ask them about it gently. If the answer is yes, it’s important not to get mad or overreact. You don’t want to make them feel bad for doing it. Keep in mind that cutting is often a symptom of a larger problem, and you, as a parent, can help your child figure out the underlying cause by seeking professional help (more on that below).

Treatments

It is critical to seek treatment for your teen right away if she is cutting, both to help treat any underlying psychiatric problems, like depression or anxiety and to prevent cutting from becoming a bad habit. The longer a teen cuts herself, the harder it becomes to break the habit.

Cutting can also lead to more problems later in life. In fact, the S.A.F.E. Alternatives (Self Abuse Finally Ends) treatment program describes cutting as ‘ultimately a dangerous and futile coping strategy which interferes with intimacy, productivity, and happiness.’

These are some forms of treatment that may help your teen quit cutting and learn healthier coping strategies.

Psychotherapy

Teens who cut should be evaluated and treated by counselors or psychologists who have experience in treating teens with this particular condition. These types of professionals are skilled at talk therapy and can provide a safe, non-judgmental space in which your teen can speak openly about the problems that she’s facing.

Remember, it can sometimes be hard for a teen to completely open up to a parent, so talking to someone who is removed from their everyday lives might be easier for your child.

Psychiatry

An evaluation by a child psychiatrist (a medical doctor who can prescribe drugs) might also be a good idea for further treatment ideas, which might include antidepressants when necessary.

Treatment Center

You might look for a treatment center in your area that specializes in cutting. The name of the treatment center might include the phrases “self-harm,” “self-injury,” or “self-mutilation.”

Support Group

Your teen might also find help by joining a self-harm support group. Meeting others who cut might help her feel less alone and might help her learn how others have successfully stopped cutting themselves.

Treatment for cutting will likely focus on helping the teen develop healthier coping mechanisms when faced with feelings of anger, stress, or sadness. It will also help boost a teen’s self-esteem, help manage any underlying psychiatric problems, and help make sure that the teen isn’t having thoughts of suicide.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Do you suspect a teen you care about is engaging in self-harm or cutting?

Everyone experiences stress, anxiety, and low moods at times. But stress and emotional shifts can feel different for different people, particularly for teens navigating the murky waters of adolescence. While some teens might feel jumpy or afraid when they’re under stress, others might feel elevated frustration and anger, overwhelming sadness, or fear and anxiety. Some teens turn to self-harm to cope with these complicated emotions.

From 2009 to 2015, emergency rooms in America saw a sharp rise in treatment of girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 24 who intentionally injured themselves. JAMA reports that within that hike of 8.4 percent of ER visits over six years, among girls between the ages of 10 and 14, rates of ER visits for self-harm surged 18.8 percent yearly between 2009 and 2015.

What is Self-Harm or Cutting?

Self-harm or cutting means hurting yourself on purpose. Cutting into the skin is the most widely known form of self-harm, but burning the skin, picking at wounds to prevent healing, picking at skin, biting or scratching at the skin, ingesting poison or pills without intent to die by suicide, and pulling out hair are all methods of self-harm.

Self-harm is a sign of emotional distress. Teens engage in self-harm to relieve feelings of stress, anxiety, or emotional pain. Self-harm can relieve tension momentarily, which gives teens the false belief that this maladaptive coping strategy actually works. The physical pain they inflict numbs the emotional pain they experience, and they feel like this potentially dangerous practice is helpful. In reality, it’s a temporary escape that can result in a lifetime of maladaptive coping if they don’t learn how to manage their emotional pain.

Teens who self-harm are either looking to release tension or looking to feel something. Some might use it to distract themselves, to avoid processing their emotions, to get attention from adults or peers, or to punish themselves. Though teens who engage in this behavior often describe a temporary feeling of relief, it can also result in an overwhelming feeling of shame.

Worried you may be suffering from a mental health disorder?

Take one of our 2-minute mental health quizzes to see if you could benefit from further diagnosis and treatment.

Why Do Teens Cut?

Self-harm is not a mental disorder, but it is associated with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. It also indicates a lack of effective coping skills. Other risk factors include a history of trauma, neglect, or abuse.

Self-harm might begin with feelings of anger, frustration, or emotional pain. In some cases, the self-injury stimulates the body’s pain-killing hormones and provides a temporary feeling of uplifted mood. In other cases, teens might turn to cutting to feel pain in an effort to get away from a feeling of emotional numbness.

Following cutting, teens can experience feelings of shame and guilt. This perpetuates the cycle of overwhelming emotions followed by negative coping strategies. It can become a dangerous cycle that is difficult to break.

Self-harm is not the same as suicidal behavior, but there is an elevated risk of suicidal behavior for teens who self-harm.

Does Social Media Trigger Self-Harm?

Despite efforts by social media sites to curb posting images, videos, and other disturbing content that promotes or normalizes self-harms, and clear guidelines (if you read the guidelines), images and content continue to emerge. If you search for #cutting on Instagram, for example, a pop-up window appears on your screen to warn you about content within the hashtag ask if you need help. This is a step in the right direction. The problem, however, is that it’s easy to decline the offer and proceed to the potentially triggering content.

Teens sometimes turn to social media to find support, but they also turn to social media to validate or normalize their self-harm. There are hashtags specifically created to help people who self-harm support one another in making positive choices when they feel the urge, but there are also hashtags that show some fairly disturbing content. Given that teens are savvy social media users, they also create new hashtags to get around banned hashtags or hashtags that are watched by social media sites. While #selfharm might be on the radar of social media sites, #selfharmmmm might not.

It’s difficult to draw a direct link between social media use and exacerbated self-harm behaviors among teens without sufficient data, but self-harm hashtags and communities online certainly can normalize the behavior.

How to Help a Teen Who Self-Harms

Teens who self-harm are depressed or overwhelmed by anxiety, stress, or pressure. They also tend to be skilled at hiding their pain from friends, parents, teachers, and coaches. They can post anonymously online to find support and a community. If they find a recovery community, they can share their experiences through journaling, messaging, or even art. This can be helpful for teens. If, on the other hand, they stumble upon on a community that supports the self-harm behavior, it can result in teens feeling helpless and continuing the behavior.

Teens who self-harm need treatment. The first step is to seek a referral for a psychiatrist or psychotherapist who specializes in adolescents and self-harm. Depending on the underlying triggers and emotions beneath the self-harm behaviors, there are different types of therapeutic interventions:

• Psychodynamic therapy helps people explore past experiences and emotions
• Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on recognizing negative thought patterns and learning positive alternatives
• Dialectical behavior therapy can help teens learn positive coping strategies
If there is an underlying anxiety or depressive disorder, medication might be prescribed. Group work can be beneficial in helping teens connect with other teens and support one another through the recovery process.

If symptoms are severe or potentially dangerous, hospitalization might be necessary.

If you are concerned that your teen is engaging in self-harm it is important to remain calm and talk about the behavior with your teen without judgment. It’s essential that you seek treatment right away. With proper supports in place, teens can learn positive coping strategies to target overwhelming emotions and learn to manage their emotions in an adaptive way as they grow.

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by Dr. Christopher Chang, last modified on 4/13/21

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Tongue tie (otherwise known as ankyloglossia) is when the tip of the tongue is anchored to the floor of the mouth. Tongue tie may extend all the way to the tip or it may extend partially to the tip resulting in a partial tongue tie. There is also a condition called posterior tongue tie in which the tongue tie is hidden under the tongue lining.

Although this condition is mainly discussed from the perspective of infants and breastfeeding, some teenagers and adults may choose to get this treated. Why?

It’s mainly due to problems that stem from inadequate tongue mobility. Such problems may include:

  • Speech difficulties causing a lisp especially with sounds requiring a mobile tongue tip (sibilants and lingual sounds)
  • Unable to “French Kiss”
  • Serious wind instrument players where the tongue’s relative immobility is limiting how well they are able to play
  • Lecturers where the tongue’s relative immobility causes tongue pain after talking for prolonged periods of time

Regardless whether dealing with a newborn or an older child/teenager, the treatment is the same. Keep in mind that treatment is recommended ONLY if the tongue tie is causing a problem. If no symptoms are present, one does not need to pursue any treatment.

It should also be mentioned that contrary to what others may report and read on the internet, it is our opinion that tongue tie in adults does NOT cause or contribute to allergies, sleep apnea, neck pain, shoulder pain, facial pain, airway obstruction, and other systemmic problems beyond the tongue itself.

Treatment itself is fairly straightforward and can be performed in the clinic as long as the patient is fully cooperative.

Although we generally perform tongue tie releases using the scissor technique as shown below, we can also perform this procedure using a

is the preferred technique as it minimizes bleeding as the cut is made. Read more about LASER vs scissor technique.

Steps to procedure (scissor technique shown):

Step 1:

The tongue tie is visualized and topical lidocaine is applied using a Q-tip or cetacaine sprayed to the area. Depending on the age and how thick the tongue tie is, injection of numbing medicine may also be performed.

Step 2:

The tongue tie is clamped across for about 10 seconds. Care is taken to clamp above the salivary duct openings (Wharton’s duct), but below the body of the tongue.

This maneuver crushes the blood vessels closed so when the cut is performed, minimal bleeding occurs.

can be used to make this cut without any mucosal clamping. There are pros and cons for each technique, but in the end, outcomes are excellent regardless of which method used. Read more about LASER vs scissor technique.

Step 3:

The clamp is released and scissors (or

) are used to cut right along the tongue tie where the clamp was placed. Rarely a stitch is placed.

That’s it! This whole procedure usually takes no more than a few minutes.

How to cure teen and adult cutting

After Care

After the procedure, tylenol or motrin alone (if even that) is enough for pain control. No antibiotics are needed. Active bleeding (if occurs) typically stops within 15 minutes. There may be a drop or 2 of blood that may sporadically appear in the area for the next few hours.

Avoid foods that require biting with the front teeth (apples, carrots, etc) which would cause the food to dig into the surgical site for about 1 week. Stick with soft foods. After that, a normal diet may be resumed.

It is not unusual for a white eschar to appear along the cut edge. Do not worry if this happens. It is just a scab that is wet (recall what a scab looks like on your hand if you get it wet. it turns white). It will disappear in about 1 week.

Stretching exercises 3x per day for the first 2 weeks can also be performed to prevent reattachment if a posterior tongue tie was present and a stitch was not placed. Otherwise, stretching exercises are not typically necessary. Stretching exercises, if performed, mainly entails pushing the tongue tip towards the roof of the mouth while pinching the wound closed.

Posterior Tongue Tie

There is a relatively uncommon and under-diagnosed type of tongue tie known as submucous tongue tie (more commonly known as “posterior tongue tie”).

This condition is when the tongue tie is hidden UNDER the mucus lining of the tongue/mouth. You can’t see this type of tongue tie that easily, but you can feel it if you run the finger underneath the tongue from side to side where the tongue tie would be. One would feel a tissue band (speed-bump sensation with finger sweep) where the tongue tie would be.

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  • Breastfeeding Problems: Infant Factors
  • There’s Always Someone With a Bigger Mouth
  • Should Boys Also Get Vaccinated for HPV?

On This Page:

  • What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
  • What is Self-Harm Behavior?
  • Cutting and Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is an effective form of treatment for self-harm issues such as cutting. DBT is unique in the ways it engages patients and helps to reshape their viewpoints about themselves and their personal interactions.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral-psychotherapy developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan. It was originally developed as a way to treat borderline personality disorder.[1]

DBT works to eliminate unwanted behavior through the enhancement of an individual’s self-image, interpersonal skills, and decision-making skills. DBT often includes the use of cognitive role-playing and talk-based therapy.

During a DBT session, the counselor will often re-enact certain events from the life of the patient. Through a series of questions the counselor establishes how the individual can change his behavior in order to bring about a different, more productive outcome. This allows the therapist to make suggestions to modify the individual’s behavior without seeming controlling or judgmental.

Dialectical behavior therapy has been proven effective in the treatment of several different conditions including self-harm and cutting, drug addiction, alcohol addiction and borderline personality disorder.

What is Self-Harm Behavior?

Individuals who injure themselves without the intent of committing suicide are referred to as self-harm patients. The behavior is generally seen through cutting, hair pulling or picking at the skin compulsively.

Self-harm behavior has its roots in a variety of events and mental conditions, including:

  • Past physical abuse
  • A history of sexual abuse
  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Eating disorders (such as bulimia or anorexia)
  • Low self-esteem.

Self-harm behavior is a dangerous practice. Normally, self-harm is most commonly seen in young people around 12 years old and continues (if left untreated) throughout the teenage years and on into the early twenties.[2]

Cutting and Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Therapists have found success in treating individuals with cutting issues through the use of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. DBT engages the individual in ways that standard therapy may not. Some examples include:

  • The use of role-playing helps the individual learn how to form stronger personal relationships. These activities raise his self-esteem and diminish the feelings that can lead to cutting behavior.
  • Teaching the individual how to cope effectively with stressful situations. Stress is one of the most common factors behind self-harm. By using talk therapy as a means of creating individualized strategies for coping with stress, the DBT helps reduce the need for self-harm.
  • Enhance the world-view of the individual so he understands the impact his actions have on friends, family and the rest of society.

Michael’s House is a residential drug rehabilitation facility that uses dialectical behavior therapy to treat individuals with self-harm issues, drug addiction as well as a number of other conditions. As one of the leading DBT-friendly facilities in California, Michael’s House is at the forefront of this exciting new treatment modality. If you would like more information, please call us today. One of our admissions counselors will be glad to answer your questions. Please contact Michael’s House at 760-548-4032 now.

Firstly, teen attachment issues are common and treatable. When we educate ourselves and reduce the stigma around mental health concerns, we heal our families.

Teen Attachment and Parents

No parent wants to hurt their child. Early life issues can lead to mental health challenges or substance abuse. Sub-optimal parenting means kids sometimes don’t bond with caregivers. Furthermore, that can lead to emotional issues. As a result, teens may have a hard time with relationships.

This understanding is known as attachment theory. According to attachment theory, a strong attachment to a caregiver is critical to development. If that bond doesn’t happen, children suffer from attachment disorder. According to one study, 40 to 50 percent of babies are insecurely attached.

The Four Styles of Attachment

Attachment theory originates with British psychoanalyst John Bowlby. The American developmental psychologist Mary S. Ainsworth developed many of Bowlby’s ideas. She studied the way small children reacted when separated from their parents. In addition, she analyzed how they reacted when parents returned. Consequently, she used this research to categorize children in one of four attachment styles.

Therefore, these four styles of attachment are:

  • Secure: upset when parent leaves, easily soothed upon return
  • Also—Insecure anxious: upset when parent leaves, difficult to soothe when they return
  • And—Insecure avoidant: does not register outward distress when parent leaves, ignores them when they return
  • Insecure disorganized: displays anxious and avoidance characteristics in an unpredictable way

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How Parental Behavior Can Create Attachment Disorder

Two types of parental behaviors can result in insecure attachment:

  • Enmeshment: Parents are too involved in the child’s life and the child feels suffocated. In addition, or alternatively, the child takes on the role of the parent. This can leave kids responsible for the parent’s emotional needs.
  • Lack of availability: Parents who are unavailable emotionally or physically, and thus are unable to meet needs. Or, parents only meet the needs part of the time. A parent may be unavailable due to mental health issues.

In addition, a child who is severely neglected or abused can suffer from a serious form of attachment disorder. Therefore, this is called Reactive Attachment Disorder.