Teen Self Injury Disorder Treatment

The majority of teens who are turning to self-injury or harm are struggling with an impulse-control disorder. These disorders drive people to cause themselves physical harm in order to bring on psychological relief from some sort of angst, be it emotional or mental. Teens with low feelings of self-worth who carry some sort of guilt or shame may also find pain to be a form of self-inflicted punishment. Others are merely hoping to be distracted from their pain. In some cases, teens will experiment with self-harm before progressing to the point where they consider attempting suicide.

The human body releases endorphins to help you deal with injury or pain. As a result, a teen may become addicted to pain because they enjoy the endorphin rush. They’ll make up any number of excuses, like needing to stay awake to study. Some seek out more extreme ways to cause injury or harm. The majority of teens who cause themselves injury are struggling with at least one other mental health disorder.

What Does Teen Self-Injury Look Like?

  • Teens who self-harm tend to try to hide their injuries. They may wear baggy clothing or use armbands to hide scars.
  • Some teens who self-harm are hoping for help. They don’t understand their emotions and feel intense pain, but can’t verbalize it or are afraid to ask for help.
  • Some teens who self-harm will pretend to have active social lives to hide their symptoms, while others will isolate themselves.

Signs of Teen Self-Injury

Scars on the body (especially arms and legs)

Scars on the body (especially arms and legs)

Wearing seasonally inappropriate clothing

Wearing seasonally inappropriate clothing

Making up stories about self-injuries

Making up stories about self-injuries

Excessive, harmful nail biting

Excessive, harmful nail biting

Taking too many risks

Taking too many risks

What Causes Self-Injury?

Mental Health Issues - Teens with other mental health disorders often look to pain for relief; it becomes a distraction. These disorders may include Depression, Anxiety, Personality Disorders, and even Psychosis. Because the disorders often intertwine, it can be difficult to pinpoint the teen’s goal in self-harm. It is very common for teens who feel hopeless to attempt this practice.

Emotional Pain - In some cases, self-harm is the first symptoms and a mental health disorder develops later in response to the mental or emotional pain the teen is experiencing. Triggers can include assault, the death of a close family member or friend, other forms of abuse, stress, and even academic expectations. A teen may feel that self-harm is a way to cope with stress without actively asking for help.

Abuse - Teens who have been abused (especially sexually) can develop feelings of shame or guilt. They blame themselves for what has happened and turn to self-harm as a way to block their emotional pain or, in some cases, to punish themselves for whatever it was they think they did to deserve the abuse to begin with.

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Teen Self Injury Disorder Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco


increase in self-harm among girls over the past few years.


of all teens self-injure; rates increase during the college years.


of self-injurious teens engage in cutting.

How Can I Help with Teen Self-Injury?

Build Trust - Your teen has to trust you. This isn’t easy, as teens and parents tend to butt heads in generally healthy relationships. Let your teen know that you will always be there for them with a non-judgmental ear, as long as they are honest with you.

Let’s face it, sometimes teens (or parents) break trust. You need to get past it and move forward from a place of trust and support again. Discuss it and make it clear you are moving forward with a clean slate.

Discuss Treatment - Support isn’t about idly standing by while your teen does what they want. It’s about working together to create healthy lifestyle habits. Discuss seeking professional teen self injury disorder treatment and then support them through the process, help them manage their meds, and help them stay on track with appointments.

Give your teen options. Allow them to look at different forms of therapy. Do they want to try a new hobby? Support them (within reason, of course). Look for ways to relax and have fun together. Feeling as though one is achieving some sort of success is incredibly important to the evolution of one’s mental health.

Focus on Self-Care - Take care of yourself. Parents tend to get so wrapped up in taking care of their teen’s needs they end up neglecting themselves. Talk to other family members about making sure your teen has a varied support network. This will give you the support you need to take time for yourself whenever you need.

What Types of Teen Self Injury Disorder Treatment Are Available?

The type and length of treatment for a teen with self-harm issues varies depending on the severity of the symptoms and the coexisting mental health disorders. No matter what the underlying cause, therapy is critical to preventing future episodes of self-harm. Therapy may include individual sessions, family therapy, and even group therapy.

Talk Therapy

Almost all forms of self-harm disorder begin with some sort of mental health disorder. Your teen’s therapist will help them identify the underlying cause of their need to inflict pain upon themselves.

Therapy also empowers your teen by helping them to understand why their mental or emotional pain leads them to self-harm as a method of coping. Teens will eventually come to understand why this isn’t healthy and will learn more effective ways to deal with their feelings. Then, therapists teach them how to become better at communicating and discussing their fears.

Therapy is incredibly effective when it comes to helping teens identify the emotions that lead to self-harm so that they can stop themselves before causing injury. Sometimes, having a therapist witness an episode allows them to act as a buffer, pointing out irrational behavior and talking through better coping methods.


Medications are usually used to help with the emotional lows that lead a person to feel helpless, depressed, or anxious. Certain drugs can help to lift the fog so they can more clearly see why what they are doing doesn’t make sense. They’re better able to assess their own behaviors and and understand their actions. Medication can help them to more clearly see why self-harm isn’t logical.

Family Therapy

Self-harm is very common among teens who for some reason feel abandoned or alone. They often feel as though they’ve looked for help but could not find any, so they turn to self-harm because they can’t logically see any other choice.

This form of therapy, also known as interpersonal therapy, helps teens learn to better communicate. Family involvement will help everyone in the house better understand where their teen is coming from. They will leave with a better understanding of the conditions leading to self-harm so they can better support their teen’s mental health later on.

Teen Self Injury Disorder Treatment at Paradigm San Francisco

Paradigm San Francisco’s gorgeous locations are surrounded by nature. They are filled with compassionate team members who know how important it is for your teen to receive individualized treatment and care in order to heal. We understand how complicated treating self-harm disorders can be, especially considering the existence of other mental health disorders.

A healthy environment and a tailored treatment plan will ensure your teen learns to cope in the world without turning to self-harm. They’ll leave with the tools necessary to completely avoid future episodes.

A Relaxing Change

Paradigm San Francisco strives to create a calm, nurturing environment for the teens who spend time with us. We know how stressful the teenage years can be. Giving your teen a chance to get away from school and work stress, while completely immersing themselves in a different atmosphere, is important to allowing them to relax enough to embrace therapy.

Learning to Enjoy Life

The main focus of treatment is to work through a teen’s individualized plan of therapy. That said, this is also a time for your teen to explore new hobbies and interests while socializing with those who know what they’re going through.

Teens who have the freedom to explore their own interests often discover creative outlets they hadn’t previously considered. They may feel pressured to show others that they know what direction their lives will take, but during the teen years, it’s normal to not know what you want to do quite yet. This is a time of exploration, fun, and figuring out who they are. Our treatment programs focus on helping teens manage daily stress while at the same time remembering how to have fun and live a satisfied life.

“ The best place for adolescents seeking treatment. Some of the best staff I have ever encountered. It is very structured which I feel is important to the success of recovery in minors. “

– Rose M.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Self Injury

What if I don’t want anyone to know I hurt myself?

A lot of teens feel conflicted when it comes to letting someone know they have a problem or hiding it. We know those feelings can be overwhelming, but we also want you to know that you do deserve help.

Self-harm is a sign you need more support, especially if you do it knowing you will probably continue to do so in the future. The longer you wait, the more trouble you will have controlling the way you feel and, subsequently, how you behave.

You are not worthless and you are not alone. Many of the dark feelings you have are unrealistic and make very little logical sense. We can help you to get past them --- all you need to do is ask.

What should I do if someone I love is self-harming?

Talk to that person and let them know you’re worried about them? Don’t be judgmental. Let them know you understand they are struggling but that self-harm isn’t a safe or healthy way to deal with their problems. Let them know you’re there for them and ask if them they would like to seek help. Some will be willing to seek help right way, but you may have to be patient with those who need more convincing.

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