Editor’s Note: In this post Dylan Broggio, LCSW, responds to questions many readers had about what to do if they know someone they love is cutting or if they are struggling with cutting themselves.
Firstly, thank you all so much for the great comments, questions and support you have offered on my post “What To Do If Your Teen Is Cutting”. This article really struck a chord with our readers, so I thought I would answer some of the questions that have come up in this important conversation.
Question: “I just found out my child is cutting, how can I talk to them about their cutting without upsetting them and causing more cutting?”
Answer: Parents, if there aren’t open bleeding wounds that need a trip to the hospital you can give yourself time to get to a calm(er) place (that may mean enough time to call your pediatrician, do some internet reading and speak to a counselor). Speak calmly and start by letting them know you love them and are concerned about them. As the teens who commented on our blog reiterated: Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen to what they have to say. Best case scenario, you could have consultation appointments made with a few specialists, and allow your child to choose who they feel comfortable with.
Question: ”How can counseling help if what I really need is to talk to my parents?”
Answer: Great question! One of the best things about counseling is that you can tailor it to your needs! If what you really need is to talk with your parent(s), by all means you and your therapist can bring them into session and do some family therapy. Most often, family therapy in addition to individual therapy is an integral part of the healing process for a child or teen.
Question: “I don’t want therapy.”
Answer: Yup, I always laugh out loud and am horrified when I see how therapy is portrayed in movies and TV shows- you’ve seen it, laying on a couch with the therapist incessantly nodding saying “uh huh, uh huh”. Please! SO not the case! Therapy these days involves no lying on couches. It’s casual, comfortable, nonjudgemental and supportive. Find someone you’re comfortable with and give it a try, it WORKS!
Question: “Help, my adult child is cutting, what can I do?”
Answer: Ok, that’s a tough question. Mostly, because once a person is an adult, it’s completely up to them if they participate in treatment or not. We can express our concern, offer treatment options (counseling, psychiatric care, etc.). Only if you believe your loved one is at imminent risk of harming themselves or others, then you could call 911 or, if such a service is available in your community, an urgent care psychiatric evaluation center. The best thing for you to do may be going to see a good therapist yourself. A good therapist could help you cope with this very distressing situation.
Question: “What do I do if my friend/sibling is cutting?”
Answer: I get a lot of questions from teens who have friends or siblings they are aware are cutting themselves. Hands down, the absolute best thing you can do for your friend (yup-even if they get mad at you) is to let an adult know what is happening (think teacher, counselor, your parents, their parents). Anyone you know who will take action in getting them some help.
Thank you for all of the great questions and comments and sharing on the previous post. The best care for yourself or your child is provided by a licensed professional who can sit down and assess your child face to face. That may be a physician, psychologist, or mental health counselor.
Elvira G. Aletta, PhD, Founder & CEO
Executive & Personal Coaching, Individual & Relationship Counseling
Life gave Dr. Aletta the opportunity to know what it’s like to hurt physically and emotionally. After an episode of serious depression in her mid-twenties, Dr. Aletta was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that relapsed throughout her adulthood. While treatable, the cure was often as hard to bear as the disease. Later she was diagnosed with scleroderma, another chronic illness.
Throughout, Dr. Aletta battled with anxiety. Despite all this, Dr. Aletta wants you to know, you can learn to engage in life again on your terms.
Good therapy helped Dr. Aletta. She knows good therapy can help you. That’s why she created Explore What’s Next.
Today Dr. Aletta enjoys mentoring the EWN therapists, focusing on coaching and psychotherapy clients, writing and speaking. She is proud and confident that Explore What’s Next can provide you with therapists who will help you regain a sense of safety, control and joy.
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