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Saving Self-Harming Teens


Saving Self-Harming Teens


Discovering that your adolescent child is self-harming can be a spine-chilling experience. Many thoughts will cross your mind – most of them unpleasant, even scary. Despite the nagging fears that it may breed, stay calm. Saving a self-harming teen requires that you remain composed to be able to understand the issues surrounding their unhealthy behavior and to make sound decisions while being loving, caring and supportive at the same time.

Knowledge and understanding of self-harm can help direct you to the right decisions, including seeking professional help for effective interventions. Rather than dwell on your guilt or avoid the issue, strive to be empowered and to seek the right kind of help from a qualified professional.


As a first step, here are some facts about self-harm.


  • Defining Self-harm: Self-harm is also known as self-injury. Though there is deliberate hurting of one’s body, it is usually done without the intent to end life. Thus, it is also often referred to as “nonsuicidal self-injury” (NSSI). It can be present among teens who carry negative emotions – anger, sadness, fears, grief, and guilt. Teens are especially vulnerable because they are in a developmental stage when they are experiencing vast changes in their minds, bodies, emotions, and relationships.


  • The Causes: It isn’t easy for stable adults to fathom the motives behind teen self-harm. Considering the many issues and concerns that they face and live with, the cause can be anything – from crushes and sibling rivalry to academic pressures or clique pressures. With the advent of social media, the Internet, and many other advancements, today’s teenagers are getting more distressed with extraordinary social pressures. For those who have been abused or traumatized, it could be a way to punish themselves when they perceive they did something “bad” or unacceptable. Self-harm may also be an indication of an undiagnosed or untreated emotional condition.


  • The Risks: Self-harm isn’t considered an emotional condition or disorder, but it could be a symptom for one. It is a common symptom for people with bipolar disorder, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, eating disorders, or schizophrenia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a “history of depression or other emotional illness” can also be among the factors that may contribute to self-harm.


CDC also says that there is a higher tendency for youngsters to commit self-injury when they have emotional incapacities, such as intellectual disability and autism. Thus, “youth with depression, anxiety disorder, and conduct disorder have a higher chance of self-violence, including suicide, than children without these disorders.” Considering their emotional challenges, it is important to seek out real professional help because there is always that chance that they can seriously hurt themselves. They need professional help to quit the habit and an aftercare program to stay away from it completely.


  • The Signs: Regardless of the cause or the reason for cutting or harming oneself, one thing is certain – your teen is in deep emotional turmoil and needs help. To provide the necessary help, it’s important to recognize the signs of self-injury first. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to do, because it is generally done in secrecy and the marks are typically concealed. If you know your child enough, it is important to pay attention when they are manifesting signs or symptoms that may indicate emotional turmoil. Are they excessively irritable, sad or fearful? Are they having difficulty getting along with others or socially avoiding people?


According to NHS Choices, some specific signs of self-harm to watch out for are:


  • Unexplained cuts, bruises or cigarette burns, usually on their wrists, arms, thighs and chest
  • Keeping themselves fully covered at all times, even in hot weather
  • Signs of depression, such as low mood, tearfulness or a lack of motivation or interest in anything
  • Self-loathing and expressing a wish to punish themselves
  • Not wanting to go on
  • Becoming very withdrawn and not speaking to others
  • Changes in eating habits or being secretive about eating, and any unusual weight loss or weight gain
  • Signs of low self-esteem, such as blaming themselves for any problems or thinking they’re not good enough for something
  • Signs they have been pulling out their hair
  • Signs of alcohol or drugs misuse


  • “Victims” Profile: Self-harm is a growing concern around the world because its victims are getting younger. The number of preteens and teenagers aged 12 to 19 engaging in self-harm is reportedly ever-increasing in number. According to Mental Health America, youngsters aged 10 to 14 are especially at risk of self-harm with stats as high as 15 percent. Studies also indicate that this concern is occurring at rates ranging from 17 to 35 percent among those in college.


Research also indicates that more than 10 percent of teenagers have experimented with self-harm. Among the American youngsters, there are estimates that suggest one in every 200 adolescent girls repeatedly engaging in self-harming behaviors. Reports from treatment centers reveal that the number of self-injuring have doubled in the recent years.


  • Diagnosis and Treatment: “Self-harm is not a problem that kids simply outgrow…” says, David Rosen, director of the Section for Teenage and Young Adult Health, University of Michigan Health Systems. If you suspect your adolescent to be self-harming, it is critical to consult a licensed health professional without haste. It is important to remember that it carries inherent risks. It can also be an indication of an emotional condition that may need to be treated.


The assessment of the symptoms can help in determining the individualized treatment for your son or daughter. In general, cognitive/behavior therapy alone or in combination with other treatments are effective. You can find the right help by contacting Carolina Counseling Services in Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks.


Self-harm is unhealthy. Regardless of the reason for self-harm, one thing is apparent – your child is in distress and help is necessary. Injuring themselves is an unhealthy way meant to assuage their emotional hurt, anger, frustration, guilt, and/or confusion. And regardless of how well you understand their motives, you need to turn to qualified and experienced professional to save your self-harming teenaged child.  Therapy can help your self-harming teen.


Self-injury could just be the “tip of the iceberg.”  The underlying causes, the other aggravating factors, and the repercussions could be more complex than you expect or can face on your own. This isn’t the time to “wait and see.” You need to act fast and be firm in your decision. To help resolve self-harm, choose the right professional to work with – find that professional from one of the many licensed therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services in Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks. Don’t delay, call now!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Tricare Prime, Tricare Select, Extra, Retired, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express


Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

Credit cards:  


Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Holly Ring, LMFT

Specializes in: (Ages 7+) Adolescents, College Students, Individuals, Couples, and Families, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma (child and adult, TFCBT certified), Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, Adjustment Disorders, Life Transitions, Suicidal Ideation, Self-esteem, OCD, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Skills, LGBTQ
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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Carolina Counseling Services - Cameron, NC
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Cameron, NC 28326

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Fayetteville, NC 28311

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