Self-Harm and Cutting in Austin, TX—Therapists and Counselors
A 14-year-old is about to high school. She makes perfect grades and has perfect attendance. Her parents are also going through a divorce, and she has no idea which school she will attend. A 30-year-old single dad is putting in long hours and burning the candle at both ends. He knows he cannot keep up this pace, but he also feels stuck. A 56-year-old grandmother is beginning a new job after her husband passed away. They had no savings and no life insurance, and she is worried about if she can make ends meet. Each of these individuals’ life and stress is unique, but the way they are handling it is not—they are coping through self-harm.
“Other times, I look at my scars and see something else:
a girl who was trying to cope with something horrible that she should never have had to live through at all. My scars show pain and suffering, but they also show my will to survive. They’re part of my history that’ll always be there.”
― Cheryl Rainfield, Scars
People cope with traumatic life events in the best way they know, and at times, the only way they can process their emotional pain may be through causing themselves physical pain. No one asks for difficult circumstances, but the shame that people feel as a result can easily be turned inward—upon themselves.
When people are ready to learn new ways for handling the pain—hopeful and life-giving ways—they are often turning to mental health professionals for help. Thriveworks Austin has seen many clients forge a new way. Our counselors have helped many people learn and practice healthy coping skills.
Different Ways to Self-Injure
People commonly associate self-injury with cutting, and cutting certainly is one form. However, there are many ways people choose to express their pain through self-harm.
Examples of the different ways people may self-injure include…
- Pulling out their hair—painfully plucking large portions of their body hair.
- Interfering with how their body is healing—pulling scabs, untying stitches, et cetera.
- Branding, carving, or tattooing—attaching a word, symbol, or picture to one’s psychological pain.
- Hitting, biting, punching, and/or pinching oneself.
- Burning—employing matches, candles, ropes, heat, cigarettes, or more to cause bodily harm.
- Cutting—Using a knife or sharp object to slash, stab, pierce the skin.
Some people use self-injury during particularly stressful times in their lives and cycle through seasons of self-harm and other coping mechanisms. Others use self-injury as a ritualized coping mechanism, doing so on a routine basis—daily, weekly, monthly.
Risk Factors for Self-Mutilation
People who experience the following face a higher risk for engaging in self-mutilation:
- Drug or Alcohol Use: One study looked at cases of self-injury at a Northern Ireland hospital. In over 60 percent of the patients, alcohol was involved in the incident. Many times, drug use or alcohol use is a factor in the decision to self-harm.
- Psychological Pain: One common situation that many people who self-harm have faced is child abuse and neglect. Domestic violence, bereavement, toxic relationships, and poverty are just a few of the traumatic situations that can trigger intense psychological pain.
- Mental Health Diagnosis: While not an individual diagnosis, self-harm is frequently a sign or symptom of certain mental illnesses. Depression, conduct disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder, borderline personality disorder, and certain phobias can trigger self-injury.
Looking for an Alternative: Learning Healthy Coping Skills
If self-harm has been the only way you know to handle the pain you feel, know that there are other ways. Many people have learned healthy coping skills that have filled their lives with hope and healing. For most people, they have worked with a therapist or counselor to learn how to…
- Build up a support network. Think about friends and family members who care. Know that there are groups of people who struggle with self-harm and support each other as they learn to stop. A counselor can guide you through healing exercises.
- Make their physical and emotional safety a top priority. For most people, certain situations and people are triggering, but they can learn how to protect themselves. Safety is important, and a big part of healing can be learning how you feel safe.
- Practice mindfulness. Becoming more aware of one’s own emotions is a big step toward healing for many people. There are many ways to practice mindfulness—take a yoga class, journal, be quiet for five minutes each day.
An experienced mental health professional can help people discern which coping mechanisms may help them the most. Each person is unique and what is effective for one may not be effective for another. Counseling may also help people identify the underlying psychological wound that is causing the psychological pain. Deeper healing can then be applied.
Counseling at Thriveworks Austin for Self-Harm
Do you want to meet with a counselor to learn new coping techniques? If so, know that Thriveworks Austin has appointments available for self-harm. Our counselors have worked with many people, healing deep wounds and teaching healthier forms of handling pain.
When you reach out to Thriveworks Austin, a person will answer your call (not a voicemail). We accept most forms of insurance, and many new clients have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call. Our office also makes evening and weekend sessions available.
We want to help heal the psychological pain. Contact Thriveworks Austin today.