The MHS Journals

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Treatment Strategies for Self Injurious Behaviors

May 28, 2024

Treatment Strategies for Self Injurious Behaviors 

Self-injurious behaviors include any type of behavior that could cause injury to the individual. Over time, these behaviors can increase, leading to more significant symptoms and, ultimately, serious harm to the individual. However, many patients can learn how to redirect themselves and avoid those behaviors with treatment.

Self-harming behaviors are most likely to occur during the teen and young adult years but can occur at any point in a patient’s life. Friends and family members can help identify symptoms of those dangerous behaviors.

Defining Self-Injurious Behaviors

Self-injurious behaviors are behaviors that cause harm or injury. They may include:

  • Cutting
  • Burning oneself
  • Banging, hitting, or punching objects with a part of the body, often with the intent to cause harm or pain
  • Scratching

These behaviors often occur not due to a mental illness but because of a lack of coping skills. Often, self-injury occurs because of an inability to cope with other sensations, either physical or mental.

What Causes Self-Injurious Behaviors

Patients may engage in self-injurious behaviors for many reasons. Individuals with learning disabilities or mental health conditions may be more likely to engage in those behaviors.

Lack of Coping Skills

Often, patients engage in self-injurious behavior because they lack effective coping skills. Injuring themselves in a small way may make them feel as though they are more in control of a situation, especially if they are suffering from painful emotions or struggling with a lack of control in other areas of their lives. A lack of coping skills may cause patients to try to take control in whatever areas they can, including engaging in self-harming behaviors.

Emotional Dysregulation

A patient who struggles with high levels of emotions, including severe distress or anxiety, may turn to self-harming behaviors because they feel that the physical pain brings a sense of relief from the emotional struggle.

Need for a Sense of Control

Causing physical pain to oneself has the potential to help many patients feel as though they are in more control of their situations and surroundings. As a result, they may engage in self-harming behaviors to restore that feeling of control.

Are There Effective Treatment Strategies for Self-Injurious Behaviors?

There are a variety of treatment strategies for self-injurious behaviors that can help patients cope with those concerns and reduce harmful behaviors. Therapy often aids patients in dealing with emotional dysregulation and other challenges that can lead to self-injurious behaviors. Therapy strategies may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, in which you identify negative behaviors and thought patterns and replace them with more positive or effective coping mechanisms and strategies
  • Mindfulness-based therapies which can encourage patients to identify the emotions they feel and work through them more effectively
  • Dialectal behavior therapy, which helps with behavioral skills and emotional regulation

In addition, receiving support from friends and loved ones can help many patients avoid further self-harming behaviors. Working with a mental health professional to deal with self-injurious behaviors is essential. A mental health professional can help patients identify the ideal strategy for their needs.

Reach Out for Professional Help Dealing with Self-Injurious Behavior

If you or a loved one are dealing with self-injurious behavior, help is available. At Mental Health Services, we provide a variety of therapy options that can help patients learn how to cope with the challenges they are facing and develop emotional regulation skills, effectively reducing self-harming behavior. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help.

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