Self-Injury Counseling – Counselors and Therapists in Short Pump, VA
Self-injury is the act of deliberately hurting oneself as an unhealthy way to cope with emotional pain, anger, or frustration. While suicide is an act of self-injury, most self-injury acts are non-suicidal. Self-injury, also known as self-mutilation or self-harm, is a danger that affects people worldwide.
In most cases, people self-injure to cope with their internal emotions or handle the challenges of untreated depression and mental health issues. The practice of self-harm is not limited to teens. Self-harm is prevalent in adults as well.
While self-injury statistics are available, accurate information about trends and the number of people affected are difficult to gather. This is because many acts of self-mutilation are concealed or never come to the attention of anyone other than the person injuring themselves. The lack of reporting for self-injury makes it hard to pinpoint an exact rate of prevalence, but approximately two million cases of self-injury are reported annually in the United States.
Life-threatening injuries are not usually intended by those who harm the surface of their body to cope with difficult emotions. However, self-injury can lead to more serious, and even fatal, outcomes over time.
What Are Common Behaviors of Self-Injury?
Because self-injury is an action taken for several reasons, the signs and symptoms vary. In general, self-injury is a way to deal with very strong emotions. For those who have difficulty with emotional expression, self-harm is a coping mechanism that can communicate distress and control aggressive emotions. This can be a hidden problem that goes on for years without proper diagnosis and treatment.
Those who self-injure are usually triggered by an urge to hurt themselves when something upsets them. In some cases, people self-harm a few times then stop. In some cases, this is a long-term, repetitive behavior. Behaviors common amongst those who self-injure include:
- Intentionally breaking one’s bones
- Picking at or reopening wounds that were healing
- Punching or hitting oneself
- Inserting sharp objects into the skin
- Pulling hair
- Carving words or symbols into the skin
The most frequent targets of self-injury can be seen on the arms, legs, and torso. But some injuries are better hidden and cannot be easily identified. The following are common signs and symptoms of self-injury:
- Open cuts or other wounds
- Keeping sharp objects close to oneself
- Wearing long sleeves or long pants, especially during warmer weather
- Avoiding people
- Difficulties with relationships
- Emotional instability
- Being impulsive or unpredictable
- Talk of hopelessness or worthlessness
Thriveworks Henrico Self -Injury Counselors are experts identifying the signs of self-injury. It is important to know that these signs may be different between children or teenagers and adults. While any of the above-mentioned signs and behaviors can be an indication of self-harm in children, the most common are unexplained cuts and bruises, changes in behavior, and small linear slices in the arms and legs that appear regularly.
It may be more difficult to notice the signs of self-injury in adults. In many cases, adults who engage in self-mutilation have been doing so for years. Unfortunately, this is a vicious cycle. As they begin to get immune to the pain, adults may inflict more serious injuries upon themselves that can lead to infection or more serious outcomes. Scars are a common indication of self-injury in adult patients and can open the door to less visible signs of self-injury.
If you are injuring yourself, or know someone who engages is self-mutilation the Therapist at Thriveworks Henrico are here to help. Self-injury is often a sign of a bigger issue that needs to be addressed. Self-injury can be associated with many other mental health disorders including:
- Substance abuse
- Eating disorders
- Conduct and oppositional disorders
- Borderline personality disorder
Outpatient therapy is an effective way to treat self-injury behaviors. Some people who engage in self-harm have difficulty coping with internal emotions, managing stress, communicating depression, or controlling bad feelings. In some cases, a person might be looking for a way to punish themselves, overcome emotional numbness, or obtain a sense of belonging. Regardless of the reason for self-injury, the first step in treatment is self-injury counseling.
Through psychotherapy, an individual who struggles with self-injury can develop the skills needed to change this behavior. Psychotherapy starts by identifying and managing any underlying issues that may be causing self-harm behaviors. The self-injury counselor helps patients learn skills to manage stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationship and social skills.
While some treatments center around family or group therapy, the following individual therapies have been known to be helpful in treating self-injury behaviors:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy identifies the negative beliefs that lead to unhealthy behaviors and replaces them with positive ones.
- Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches skills to tolerate stress, manage emotions, and improve relationships.
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy focuses on past experiences and personal issues that lie at the root of the emotional difficulties.
- Mindfulness-based therapy focuses on the present, helps to reduce anxiety and depression, and improves the patient’s wellbeing by effectively perceiving the thoughts and actions of those around them.
Medication is not generally prescribed to specifically treat self-injury behaviors. A Thriveworks Henrico Self-injury Counselor will determine whether the behaviors are linked to an underlying condition, such as anxiety or depression. If so, medication may be prescribed to treat the disorder compelling the patient to injure themselves.
In addition to professional treatment, self-care is important in overcoming self-harm tendencies. Supportive Counselors at Thriveworks Henrico can assist you or loved one to develop a plan. Self -injury should not be left untreated. Reach out to a Thriveworks Henrico Counselor or Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner today.