Adolescence can be a time filled with change, curiosity, and never-ending drama. Teens are experiencing the pressures of grades, friendships, first loves, and heartbreaks. Unfortunately, it is easy for that once exciting independence to transform into loneliness. Often, in these difficult emotions, teens turn to unhealthy coping skills like self-harm that may need the support of teen counseling to address.
Identifying Self Harm Triggers
Identifying triggers for your teen’s mental health can be a first step in helping them reduce distress. This could include stressful situations, pressure at school, and social media. Or, bullying and difficulty with friends.
Creating a Plan to Help
Secondly, support your child in making a safety plan to use healthy coping skills. Approach the teen with a calm and non-judgmental approach. Reiterate that you are here to support them through this difficult time. Listen and learn about what has been most challenging for them.
Strategies for Reducing Self Harm
It can be scary to think about self-harm. But, there are many strategies available that can reduce these urges. Try these strategies to reduce self-harm tendencies with adolescents.
“T” – temperature
Grab ice cubes and squeeze them with a closed fist for one minute. Or, apply an ice pack to your face and cheeks. These methods can soon decrease the intensity of the emotion and stimulate pain receptors in a healthy way. But, please do not attempt this skill if you have a cardiac or body temperature regulation issue.
“I” – intense exercise
Engage in intense exercise for 15 to 20 minutes. Doing so will let your body process any adrenaline hormones in a natural way.
“P”s – paced breathing and paired muscle relaxation.
There are many apps or videos for encouraging these techniques. But, the goal is to slow your breathing down to 6 to 8 breaths per minute (or roughly every 10 seconds). This breathwork can be matched with progressive muscle relaxation. This occurs by tensing your muscles as you inhale and then relaxing them as you exhale. For clients with breathing difficulties, please have caution when trying these exercises.
Other Strategies to Try
These displacement strategies help trick our minds into perceiving an injury. But, without inflicting any physical harm. By creating a fake injury with makeup or food coloring, a person can express their emotional distress. All without engaging in self-injurious behavior. Some teens have used body paint or nail polish in places they might usually self-harm.
Alternative Rebellion Acts
These are activities someone might do that might seem crazy, rebellious, or defiant. Some of the suggestions include:
- Shaving your head
- Getting a piercing or tattoo
- Eating a hot chili pepper
- Wearing face paint in public
- Or dancing in the rain
Above all, these suggestions are to reinforce a person’s goals to decrease self-harm behaviors. Examples of this can include making a list like “Why I don’t want any scars or bruises in the summer.” Or, using glow-sticks to snap and waiting for the glow to disappear as a reminder to wait it out.
In conclusion, many times self-harm involves distortions. These may be surrounding their self-image, depression, anxiety, or self-esteem. It is vital to support these youth to develop a positive narrative about themselves.
Furthermore, there are many organizations, support groups, and a crisis line that can help teens struggling with self-harm.
Begin Teen Counseling in Fuquay Varina, NC, Wake Forest, NC, or Raleigh, NC
Are you interested in counseling for yourself or your teen? If so, please reach out to Foundations Family Therapy. Our team currently offers in-person and online therapy in Fuquay Varina, Raleigh and Wake Forest. To start your counseling journey, please follow these simple steps:
- Start coping with challenges in a more positive way!
Other Services Offered at Foundations Family Therapy
Teen counseling isn’t the only service offered from our Wake Forest, Raleigh, and Fuquay Varina offices. We are happy to offer a variety of services for children, families, and couples. Other services include counseling for addictions, anxiety, grief, infertility, depression, and trauma. Feel free to learn more by visiting our FAQ, blog, or team pages today!