Self injurious behaviors in various forms, such as cutting, has become a wide spread behavior among teens, especially young girls. Any form of cutting or self-mutilation is considered a Self-Injurious Behavior. (SIB) SIB’s are not considered recreational, casual, or frivolous, but rather a matter of serious concern. Most often, self-injury is an indication that the individual is attempting to deal with some mental stress or emotional pain that is being caused by an underlying problem. Thus, SIB’s are actually the person’s attempt to solve a problem.
It is wise for parents to be worried if they discover that their child is cutting or is engaged in some other SIB. However, when this behavior reveals itself, an opportunity is opened for solving the problem at its source by getting the help the person may need to learn how to deal with life stress in healthy and productive ways.
There are professionals familiar with treating SIB’s. Finding the best social worker or psychologist to help is a worthwhile process. I advise parents to start by consulting with their child’s doctor, or local hospital. They can recommend local providers who are trained to treat SIB’s. The professional can help to uncover underlying stressors that may be troubling the individual, begin to teach the corrective strategies that can form the basis of a treatment plan. In most cases the SIB can be treated on an out patient basis.
It is important to keep an open mind where SIB’s are concerned. When an SIB is discovered in a member of the family, the parents may feel guilt and shame. What did we do wrong? Bear in mind that finding out that your son or daughter is cutting is an opportunity for healing on many levels. It is not a statement about your worth as a person–or theirs. Get help, involve yourselves in the treatment, and rejoice when the truth is out.