Self-harm, an expression of deep, inner pain.
Most teens will tell you that they know of at least one classmate who cuts. For most it is not an attempt to commit suicide, but rather a means of expressing deep psychological pain. It is a physical expression of what is happening on an emotional level. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions surrounding cutting or self-harm. Some believe that it is way of drawing attention or manipulating others, but the truth is that individuals who cut experience a certain degree of relief by doing so. Thus, it is as an attempt to manage and control their own intrapsychic pain.
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In dealing with self-harm we start by investigating the underlying causes of the pain, e.g. What are the root causes? How are they being maintained? And, how do we cope with each of these pain-inducing situations? Secondly, we explore adaptive ways of alleviating emotional pain without having to resort to self-injurious behaviours. It is believed that most individuals who engage in cutting, do so out of necessity due to a lack of effective outlets for expressing their pain. Thus, by creating alternative coping mechanisms we seek to eliminate the need for self-harm. Finally, we look to build on/or reactivate existing support systems (e.g. friends and family members) to help prevent future incidents and maintain gains made in therapy.