San Francisco Therapy for "Cutting" Behavior
For Teenagers and Adults

Self Injury – “Cutting”

It’s not just “cutting.” Self-injury is the deliberate harm, mutilation, injury of the body or a body part, without the intent to commit suicide. The harm, injury or mutilation serves a purpose and can involve cutting, burning, scratching, hitting, biting, kicking, head banging and pulling hair out.

Why do people self-harm?

  • to release tension
  • to express anger, or other unacceptable feelings
  • to "numb out"
  • to feel "alive"
  • to have control
  • to relieve feelings of emptiness
  • to stop "bad" thoughts
  • to calm down
  • to feel euphoric

What you can do

  • be available to provide emotional support
  • don't get angry
  • listen without saying anything back
  • try to understand
  • don't punish or lecture
  • don't hide objects of harm
  • don't assume anything
  • don't be intrusive (snooping, invade privacy)
  • no blaming or guilt trips

Kirsten works extensively with adults and teenagers who are or have self-injured to find ways to manage and process distressing emotions rather than act in self-destructive ways. If you or a loved one is self-injuring, you should take this behavior seriously and seek professional help. If you are a parent considering having your teenager see a therapist, here are some common questions that teens have about therapy. It can be difficult to stop this behavior without the help of a professional who understands how to work with self-injury.