Self harm: 9 signs a young person may be at risk

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As much as we don’t like talking about it, self harm is extremely prevalent in society. It can take many forms, and often carries the stigma that the person doing it is seeking attention. This is not true—self harm of any form is a cry for help, but that doesn’t mean a person struggling with it will automatically tell you they need your support.

So how do we identify the signs that a young person might be engaging in this harmful behaviour? Pretty Powerful Girls recently published a blog written by Colleen for Australia Counselling titled: Self harm: 9 signs a young person may be at risk.*

Take a look, and if you recognise any of these signs in someone you know, approach them gently. Remember, a lot of shame comes with self harm, and acting panicked or aggressive won’t help the situation.

Instead, speak to them about how they are feeling and encourage the person to seek further help. If you struggle with self harm, read this Hope Movement blog for more details on how you can find healing and use safe alternatives to manage your pain.

*Please note: This blog contains language and references to methods of self-harm, which may be triggering to some people.

Are you struggling with self harm? Please call 000 or 911 in an emergency or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  For crisis hotlines in other countries, visit Hope Movement’s International database here. 

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

7 Benefits To Having Your Teenager Attend Counselling

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“Counselling? You’re kidding! You mean I have to lay on a couch while some shrink asks me how I’m feeling?”

If you’ve ever talked to your teenager about the possibility of seeing a counsellor, it’s highly possible this is how they responded. Don’t be shocked if this happens–we know that therapy isn’t discussed very much in our culture, and the media often portrays it in a condescending and useless manner. So why send your teen to counselling, and what are the benefits?

I first entered a counsellor’s office at age 10 due to issues at school, and invariably went in and out all through my teenage years. Because of this, I can attest to the fact that counselling can be invaluable for a young person. It can be difficult to overcome his or her notion ‘no one else is doing it’ (that’s a lie) and, ‘there’s nothing for me to talk about’ (also a lie). In fact, seeing a therapist empowers young people to overcome and deal with their struggles, while also allowing them to feel understood.

If you want to have a conversation with your teen about attending counselling, then these 7 benefits (all of which I have experienced), will show you why it’s so useful.

  1. They experience independence

Independence is long pursued by some young people, and feared by others. Either way, seeing a counsellor is a healthy way for your teen to experience this as they take ownership of their feelings, experiences and their mental health. It also enables you to ‘let go,’ knowing they are in safe hands.

  1. It provides for a smoother transition

The transitions from child to teenager and teenager to adult are complex and fraught with conflict for the entire family. A counsellor will help your teen to navigate these transitions, empowering them to step into a new stage of life.

  1. Your teen is given space

Personal space and time apart from the family is a gold mine for most teens. They need to be understood. A counsellor is a safe outsider who your teen will feel validated by, rather than feeling like a child.

  1. It benefits their mental health

Puberty is like a glowing light that attracts every single feeling, emotion, experience and temptation into your child’s life. Your young person needs support in this time. Depression and anxiety are often seen in young adults, and self-medicating practices or self-injury are all too common. Wherever your teen is at, seeing a counsellor can help them care for their mental health.

  1. It benefits the family

Inevitably, when a young person attends counselling it will uncover behaviours and beliefs that permeate through the family unit. Having your teen attend counselling, and then listening and supporting them through it (or even attending yourself), can create a much more stable and happier environment at home.

  1. They are kept accountable

If you ask your young person where they’ve been, you’re likely intruding on them. If you fail to do this, it’s perceived that you don’t care. Living with a teenager is hardly a win-win situation for them or you. Allowing them to see a counsellor provides an alternate avenue to keep them accountable. Rather than feeling victimised for their behaviours, a counsellor will give them the space to explore why this is happening, and how to move forward.

  1. Your teen feels valued

Within the extreme emotions your teen feels every day, they simply want to know that they are ok. The world, their peers and even their family is telling them to do things better, or to do less of something else. They feel like they should be a completely different person and act as a chameleon each day depending on who they are with. The overarching need to feel valued, understood and accepted is what your young person is desperate for during this stage of life. A counsellor provides this in their sessions, allowing your teen to explore their place in the world in a safe environment.

Are you concerned about your young person? Would you like your teen to experience the benefits of counselling? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Rachel on 0422 177 193 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you or book online now.

How To Help Your Young Person Manage Stress

As we head towards the end of the year, you may have noticed your teen or young adult feeling stressed about their studies. End of year exams are coming, final assignments are due, and they are feeling more pressure than ever to have their lives figured out. In this infographic by OnlineCollegeClasses.com, we learn about the real affect stress can have on our loved ones physical health, mental wellbeing and overall quality of life. 1 in 5 students have felt too stressed to study, and time has shown us that students are more stressed than they were three decades ago. Feelings of being overwhelmed have increased, and today only 52 per cent of freshmen say they have above average mental health.

With stress can come physical symptoms and a lower immunity. Your young person may develop rashes, experience insomnia, have headaches, develop ulcers and can even develop impotence from such high levels of stress. Stress can also have a detrimental effect on mental health, with 60% of students feeling sad and 50% feeling depressed. This in turn affects their quality of life, their studies and their wellbeing. So what can you do to help your young person through this stressful period?

Encourage them to talk about their feelings

Whether they meet with a friend for coffee, talk to a parent or see a counsellor, give them the space to vent and express their feelings. Encourage them to make time to relax and enjoy life.

Change up their routine

If sports or friendships have been put on hold for their study, encourage your young person to make time for these things again. These activities will help relieve stress and ultimately better their study experience when balanced with their work.

Encourage them to be healthy

Instead of staying up late studying (or partying), suggest your young person gets a good night sleep even if only for their exam season, so their mind is clearer. Fitting in exercise during study breaks and eating healthy will keep them alert and boost their physical and mental health.

Have a look at the infographic from OnlineCollegeClasses.com for more information on stress and how you can help your young person. Then tell us below, how do you help your young person manage their stress?

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Is your young person stressed? Is stress affecting their physical and mental health? If so contact Watersedgecounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

Self Harm and Cutting: 7 Ways To Help a Young Person Who is Self Harming

 One of my greatest challenges of being a parent was ‘letting go' of my children. Right from the moment they began to cautiously make their first steps I  experienced  anxiety at a new level. The environment suddenly became a minefield of potential dangers to my vulnerable children. Do I need supporting evidence? There was that day when my 18 month old daughter pulled the television and the supporting cabinet beneath it, over, landing on top of her little body (thankfully there were no broken bones) and the day that her 2 year old sister almost drowned herself when, in a moment of unbridled excitement  she headed straight into the water with no knowledge of how swiftly the ground dropped beneath her feet (she still survives). Need I go on? From the moment my children learnt to walk, I felt like my heart had grown arms and legs and was happily engaged in exploring the world outside my body. Of course, you know that this is the way it should be but it doesn't prevent you from going on the emotional roller-coaster ride that having children takes you on. Your instinct and priority as a parent, is to protect your children from all potential harm. What do you do then, when you realize that your young person is harming themselves? How do you feel? Angry? Helpless? Anxious? Your own children may be adults with their own lives now however you may know other young people who are going through this.

Unfortunately, self-harm is not uncommon, especially among our young people, and the more you know about what is helpful and what is not helpful, the better your support will be. So let's have a talk about the issue of self-harm and strategies to deal with it.

 

What is Self Harm?

 
Self-harming behaviors are acts of doing intentional harm to your body and include cutting, burning, biting, and scratching. There are conflicting views on what is and isn't self harm. For instance, are eating disorders acts of self-harm,  or would you consider body piercing self-harm? My personal view is that any behavior that has a negative impact on the body and is intentionally acted upon is a form of self-harm. 
 
Self-harming behavior has the power to confront you in ways that few other things might. You may be feeling angry, helpless, anxious, overwhelmed, sad or all of the above. In my own experience, I was terrified of losing my young person and, feeling helpless to ‘fix' it, I swiftly became depressed which actually had the effect of amplifying my young persons self-harming behavior further. 
 

How can you help your young person? 

 
1. Try not to overreact. Self harm behavior is often initiated by stress, anxiety and /or conflict in a person's life and by overreacting you can increase these unwelcome feelings and unwittingly exacerbate the need your child feels to harm themselves. Remember that self-harming behavior does not imply that they are suicidal.
 
2. Understand that self harm is not “attention-seeking” behavior but a genuine cry for help and needs to be taken seriously. ‘Just ignore it and it will go away' will not work in this circumstance.
 
3. Attend to your own emotions, so that you can be present to your young person  without judgement, blame, anger or anxiety. Take the time to see a Counsellor so that you can talk about your own feelings and ‘contain' what you feel when you are with your young person.
 
4. Be attentive and available to your young person. Understand that they may not feel ready to talk to you when you want them to talk. Try to be sensitive to them and understand that they are experiencing enormous emotional pain. They do not have the coping ability to deal with your own anxiety or frustration. 
 
5. Encourage them to get help from a helpline, or a qualified doctor or counsellor. These helping professionals have the skills to help your young person. Often a young person needs to talk to someone other than family and friends.   This is not a reflection on your inability to understand them or their rejection of you, but a need for your young person to be able to explore their own experience without feeling embarrassed or ashamed and in a confidential and objective context.
 
6. Self harm is not something that your young person can ‘just stop' doing. Self harm behavior is triggered by a variety of stressors including stressful situations, depression, self-hatred, and unresolved past issues. It can take a person a long time to overcome the need to self harm.
 
7. If your young person does hurt themselves seriously, contain your own emotional response – in particular anger, blame or frustration. Respond with first-aid and if necessary get medical help immediately.
 
It is not always obvious that a young person is self-harming and it is a difficult and confronting conversation to have. In a following  article I  talk about some of the signs that may indicate a young person is self-harming.
 
If you would like to know more about how to help a young person who is vulnerable to self harm  or need support yourself contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.