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Daughter is cutting

answered 02:30 PM EST, Thu July 28, 2011
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I had seen my daughter with some scratches on her arms a couple of times recently but hadn’t thought much of it. But then yesterday, when she thought I was at work but I had actually come home with a headache, I walked into her room and found her cutting her arm with a razor blade.

At first I thought she was trying to kill herself and I went nuts but then she calmed me down and tried to tell me that it was no big deal and that she was just bored and it was just something to do. I tried to act calm on the outside to keep the dialogue going, but inside I am really worried and freaked out about the whole thing.

Her mom died last year and it’s been just her and me and her mom would have known a lot better than me what to do here. She is still the super achiever she always was, but the losing her mom really changed her and she never quite seemed to get her old happiness back.

I want her to see somebody, but I have no idea what type of doctor or therapist works with this kind of stuff. Can you tell me who is the best type of person to help her?

Jody Hansen Says...

Jody Hansen J. Hansen
MA, LPC, NCC, FAPA

I am glad that you were made aware of your daughter's struggle. It is unfortunate, but not uncommon, for some kids to cut. This happens frequently in middle school as a result of having known or heard of someone else's cutting behavior. This self harming is usually indicative of someone in pain. The act of cutting is usually a way of numbing the internal pain by feeling external pain. People self harm in many other ways not just by cutting. Some burn, and hit themselves, and it is even thought that sometimes excessive tattooing and piercing can be another way of self abuse. Various parts of the body can be involved, with places on the body that are usually hidden by clothes or even places like between the toes, or creases of the body. Although cutting is usually not an attempt at suicide, accidents can happen and this behavior cannot go unaddressed. Your daughter needs to be seen by a therapist as soon as possible and most have experience with "cutters" and self mutilators. Check any licensed professional such as a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker of a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Double check that they experience in this area. You may also read about cutting on the internet and there are also books available for additional help. Good luck to you and your daughter. There is help.

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Page last updated Jul 29, 2011

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