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Self Harm- Helping Teens who Cut

All smiles here because we’ve worked for it as a family. Late last year we were faced with one of the most difficult challenges we never saw coming. Our middle school teen disclosed she had been cutting. We had no words when, as therapists, we were supposed to have ALL the words. Any parent will tell you that when you receive information that you’re kid is self harming everything else in the entire world becomes secondary. We immediately headed to the hospital, found her a therapist not named us or that we had any relationship with that had experience in anxiety and self harm and proceeded to try and educate ourselves as much as we could on both our daughter and the clinical research that specifically addressed cutting.
The #1 self-reported reason for self-harm is dealing with emotions, such as anxiety or anger. In therapy, we discovered more about her than we ever knew and we are parents that spend most days at home. She discussed a gamut of issues she kept bottled up inside: the political climate, racial injustices, her feelings of a lost parental relationship with a biological parent she didn’t see often, physical changes, & the fact that middle school sucks for everyone & puberty doesn’t make it any easier. Her pain was hers and she deserved to discuss it, Parents tend to minimize our children’s emotional weight by saying, “what do you have to complain about living debt free!” Forgetting that once upon a time, they were children that struggled as well.Cutting is real and far more common than admitted.
Researchers estimate that roughly 17 percent of adolescents in this country engage in self-injury behaviors such as cutting—using sharp objects like razor blades and tweezers, or sometimes even just their fingernails to make themselves bleed.We have 10 children (11 if you count one amazing daughter in law) who have their own unique personalities, struggles, successes, etc. they are people and all different. If your teen is cutting, there are ways to help. We list tips below. Our daughter is flourishing now and we are so thankful she allowed us to join her on this journey to self actuality.

Tips for Parents:

1.Realize you will have your own emotions but don’t make it all about YOU. The child’s number one goal is to please the parent. Don’t make them feel as though they have to take care of you. They will try.
2. Learn all you can about cutting. There are incredible resources you can find at
3. Talk to your child differently, slow down and take some time. They do not communicate in the way you do and if the do they may be doing it more fir you than themselves, being less honest than they could be.
4. Consult with friends that have children around the same age. You’d be surprised at what parents endure yet never discuss.
5. Be encouraging but also seek professional help. Your child needs to talk and no matter how much of a friend you think you can be to your child, you are still the parent and should be.

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Posted by:

Charlie and Arienne Williams

With degrees in Psychology, Clinical Mental Health, and over 25 years of direct care clinical experience as psychotherapists. Charlie and Arienne are true clinical professionals with a passion for life and each other that’s only equally matched by their humorous, lighthearted demeanor and wit. As keynote speakers they are an entertaining and informative twosome who are as comfortable on...

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