Adolescents and Self-Injury
Adolescents’ self-harming behavior appears to be on the rise today. These days, adolescents are faced with more decisions, stressors, and transitions than ever before. As a means to cope with these changes, some have turned to a behavior called “cutting” or other means of self-injury as an outlet to cope with painful and distressing emotions; there are many beliefs as to why this has been on the increase.
Self-injury can include a variety of behaviors but is most commonly associated with:
· Intentional carving or cutting of the skin
· Sub dermal tissue scratching
· Ripping or pulling skin or hair
· Swallowing toxic substances
· Self bruising
In today’s competitive, fast-paced cultural environment, there is tremendous pressure put upon teenagers to achieve academic excellence, to outperform peers in classes and activities, on top of higher academic standards and heavy course loads. In addition in many families, parents put in long works hours and less time to spend in family pursuits, leaving many adolescents feeling frustrated and disconnected from family members.
Many self-harming adolescents have voiced their concerns about feeling emotionally disconnected and invalidated in the various social contexts in which they interact on a day-to-day basis. They will often report that they are having difficulty managing their self-defeating thoughts and painful or angry or depressed feeling related to stressors. Self-injury become and efficient way to gain quick relief from emotional distress or other major stressors in their lives.
There are many ways to treat self-harm. One effective method is that of cognitive-behavioral skills training, which includes having the adolescent identify the activating events leading one to self harm, the cognitions, beliefs and attitudes one has in response to these events, and the emotional or behavioral response that follows. By developing such skills in identifying how one has self-defeating thoughts that lead to self-injury, adolescents, via skills training, learn how to stop these negative thoughts, patterns and learn other effective ways of channeling this energy into something positive.
In addition to skills training, the therapist must also provide to clients an arsenal of techniques and strategies for managing any emotional distress they might be experiencing. The more of these techniques the adolescent can utilize on his or her own, the less likely he or she is to self-injure. For example, such strategies can take the form of relaxation training, visualization, meditation, and exercise. Deep breathing is an effective way to assist one in soothing oneself when faced with stressful events, as is visualizing a “safe place” one can focus on. Mindfulness is another form of meditation that offers both deep relaxation and insight. It promotes a way of being that focuses on “what is” what is present, where one can cultivate a deep acceptance and ability to relax more fully in the present moment rather than focusing on other stressors that cause discomfort.
Family therapy is another effective means of helping adolescents build connections in order to build strong, supportive and meaningful relationships. By exploring family communication and how family members interact with one another, in addition to exploring strengths and resources within the family, patterns can be altered in order to promote healthier family interactions, which support the adolescent.
The therapists practicing at Inner Light Counseling and Holistic Center work effectively with adolescent utilizing various therapeutic techniques in order to assist adolescent clients who self-harm. Clients, in conjunction with their therapist, devise a treatment plan based on short and long-term goals, where the adolescent is an active participant in the therapeutic process. In a caring and supportive environment, adolescents can address concern regarding self-injury and work toward healing that will improve and enhance their psychological and behavioral well-being.
Attention Deficit Disorder
A Brief Description: ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders. The main symptoms displayed by children with ADHD involve difficult paying attention and concentrating, difficulty controlling behavior (impulsivity) and hyperactivity.
For diagnosis a child must have 6 or more of the symptoms listed below for a period of at least 6 months:
1) Easily distracted, forgetting easily
2) Difficulty focusing, switching from one activity to another quickly
3) Easily bored (unless it is something they enjoy a lot)
4) Difficulty organizing and completing tasks whether at home or with regard to school work, losing or misplacing materials necessary to complete tasks
5) Difficulty completing homework
6) Poor listening skills
7) Easily confused, daydreaming
8) Difficulty following instructions
When related to impulsive behavior:
1) Impatient- beyond normal child impatience (difficulty waiting for things)
2) Emotionally reactive; unable to control behavior or comments regardless of possible consequences
3)Interrupts people when speaking
1) Fidget and move around a lot when sitting
2) Talk incessantly
3) Constantly moving, touching things, playing with everything in sight
4) Difficulty staying calm and quiet during activities which call for calm and quiet
What you can do as a parent to help
It is only natural that some frustration, anger and blame may build up on parents especially before a diagnosis is made and treatment is underway.
Alternatives to Medication:
Seek out help from a professional for yourself as well as your child. Your physician or child psychologists specializing in children with ADHD are good places to start. Parental support has proven to be very beneficial for the parents, diagnosed child and other family members.
Mental health professionals can educate and guide parents to develop new skills, attitudes and structured environments for the child.
Use a system of reward and consequences to help change child’s behavior.
Ignore or redirect behavior you want to discourage.
Time outs (removing the child from the upsetting situation) will help your child calm down.
Spend quality tiem with your child engaging in an activity that you child enjoys and is good at. Praise him/her during this time spent together.
Divide chores and tasks into small portions. Give one task at a time (as opposed to a list).
Keep your own emotions in check as best you can when relating to your child. Mediating or learning stress management techniques may be very helpful.
Making time for yourself each day.
Family therapy may be important to assess all family members as everyone is affected by ADHD.
Keep the same routine everyday—schedule a specific time for homework, playtime, and chores.
Display the daily schedule in a place where your child can easily see is such as the refrigerator or bulletin board.
Keep everything in its place. Use homework and note book organizers
Be clear and consistent.
Give praise and/or rewards when rules are followed.
For More Information thestr3ssball.blogspot.com/2011/03/attention-deficit-disorder.html