Therapy for Cutting and Self-Harm—Counselors in Sterling, VA
George would like to retire but is not sure when that may ever happen. Kellie just graduated from college and is searching for her first full-time job. Jase is 14, and he makes straight A’s, plays three different sports, and volunteers at the local library. The outward appearance of George’s, Kellie’s, and Jase’s lives seem distinctly different, but they have much in common—they are coping with life’s stresses through self-harm. Women and men of all ages struggle with cutting and other forms of self-injury. For many people, damaging their own body is the only way they know to handle their emotional pain.
“It was a way of expressing my own shame of myself on my own body. I was matching the inside to the outside. And there were sometimes where my emotions were just so built up, I didn’t know what to do…” –Demi Lovato
Many people can resonate with Demi’s experience. Many people are experiencing severe emotional pain and do not know what to do. The pain from trauma, poverty, victimization, and more have to be expressed somehow, and for many, that expression takes the form of cutting.
There is an old saying, “When we know better, we do better.” People who cut are probably utilizing the only resource they know of to find a moment of relief. As people heal from self-harm, they often do so through learning different coping techniques—how to deal with the pain in a healthy and hopeful way.
You or someone you love may be cutting or using another form of self-harm. If so, know that you are not alone. If you are ready to learn different coping skills, you do not have to build those emotional skill alone. The mental health professionals at Thriveworks Sterling are ready to help and support you. We have helped many people who self-injure find healing for their emotional wounds and find new coping strategies for the pain life can bring.
Self-Harm’s Symptoms and Signs
So many people think of cutting when they think of self-harm, but the truth is that cutting represents just one of many types of self-harm. Examples of self-injurious behavior include burning, branding, pinching, carving, or scratching oneself. In certain cases, people may pull out their hair. Others may pick at stitches, pull off scabs, or interfere with how their body heals. Certain people turn to self-harm during stressful times, others give themselves injuries regularly.
The types of self-injury people can participate in greatly varies as do the symptoms they display when they harm themselves. Some symptoms are common activities while others are more telling. If a person is utilizing self-injury to cope, they may…
- Always have recent wounds: burns, cuts, bruises, or scratches.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants, even in hot weather.
- Possess weapons that they utilize to give themselves injures.
- Be doubting themselves, their identity, and their purpose in life.
- Have difficult relationships with teachers, bosses, friends, family, and more.
- Act impulsively and unpredictably.
- Feel hopeless, worthless, or helpless.
What Causes People Injure Themselves?
Often, people begin cutting or participating in other forms of self-harm for very personal and tender reasons. How, when, and why an individual might cut are unique; however, speaking generally, there are certain situations and scenarios that may increase a person’s chances of coping through self-mutilation.
Psychological pain and self-harm are strongly linked. Specifically, a common thread among many who injure themselves is child abuse. They may have survived various forms of maltreatment and neglect in their childhood and are dealing with the aftermath. Many people who self-harm deal with strong feelings of guilt, worthlessness, anger, confused sexuality, panic, rejection, and/or self-hatred.
When people turn to self-harm, they are often seeking an…
- Expression for their experiences.
- Distraction from their suffering.
- Sense of control over anything.
- Emotion other than numbness, even if it is pain.
When people self-injure, they may feel a momentary sense of relief, but inevitably, their challenging feelings return. Often, these difficult feelings are exacerbated by the self-harm in the long-term.
Someone You Love May Be Cutting
If you think someone in your life is using self-harm as a coping mechanism, then there are a few things you can do to show you love and support. Often, being a loving presence is the best care you can give:
- Allow your loved one to speak without interruption or judgment: Let the words flow as they are able. Do not push, just be ready to listen.
- Express your willingness to help: If you loved one is seeking help, offer to ride with them to an appointment, pick up their medications, or support their recovery in any tangible way.
Therapy for Self-Injuries at Thriveworks Sterling
Remember that old saying? “When we know better, we do better.” Many people who have utilized cutting as a coping mechanism are learning new coping skills. If you are ready to join them on that journey, know that Thriveworks Sterling is ready to help you find your way. We offer therapy for cutting and other forms of self-harm.
When you call our office, know that we accept most forms of insurance. A real person answers our phones (not a voicemail or automated teller). Many new clients meet with their therapist within 24 hours of their call. We also offer evening and weekend appointments.
Let’s learn new coping skills. Contact Thriveworks Sterling today.