Self-injury treatment

How is self-injury treated?

One danger connected with self-injury is that it tends to become an addictive behavior, a habit that is difficult to break even when the individual wants to stop. As with other addictions, qualified professional help us almost always necessary. It is important to find a therapist who understands this behavior and is not upset or repulsed by it.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy may be used to help the person learn to recognize and address triggering feelings in healthier ways.

Because a history of abuse or incest may be at the core of an individual’s self-injuring behavior, post-traumatic stress therapies may be helpful.

Interpersonal therapy is also the main treatment for the underlying issues of low self-worth that allowed this behavior to develop.

Hypnosis or other self-relaxation techniques are helpful in reducing the stress and tension that often precede injuring incidents.

Group therapy may be helpful in decreasing the shame associated with self-harm, and in supporting healthy expression of emotions.

Family therapy may be useful, both in addressing any history of family stress related to the behavior, and also in helping family members learn to communicate more directly and non-judgmentally with each other.

In some situations, an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication may be used to reduce the initial impulsive response to stress, while other coping strategies are developed.

Adolescent Self-Injury: A Comprehensive Guide for Counselors and Health Care Professionals


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