Alternatives to self-harm: sensory and emotional substitutes, Author MissLunaRose12 (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)
We continue our examination of the relationship between child abuse and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) or cutting. Up to 79% of those who self-injure report having experienced child abuse [1A].
Because NSSI tends to be a compulsive behavior, professional help is important .
- Adults engaged in cutting should be urged to seek medical and mental health treatment [3A]. Accusations and threats should not, however, be used.
- Young children can initially be assessed by a pediatrician [3B]. Tweens and teens should be encouraged to confide in a parent or trusted adult (a teacher, school counselor, or the like) [3C].
Treatment must be individualized to the patient.
It is essential that the abuse which gave rise to the cutting be addressed [4A]. Emotional abuse and neglect are not always obvious, since they do not lead to physical bruising. Medical professionals working with children must be aware of this.
The person engaged in self-harm – whether child, tween, teen, or adult – must learn healthier coping strategies for stress management [3D].
There are alternatives to cutting . Sensory substitutes include applying an ice cube to the skin, snapping a rubber band on the wrist, intense exercise, cold showers, and listening to loud music. Emotional substitutes include writing on the skin, journaling, creating a unique playlist, and dancing. Continue reading