Self-Harm in Teens

We’ve all gotten a paper cut or hit our leg on a chair hard enough to bruise. But while many people often try to avoid pain as much as possible, some seek it out as a way to cope with poor mental health. It can lead to unhealthy habits that can start a slippery slope to more dangerous actions.

Self-harm is exactly what it sounds like. When you try to find temporary relief from overwhelming emotions by hurting yourself, you can be making a long-term impact on your mental, emotional and physical health. But the good news is that Lightfully Teen can help you address the root of your behavior and help you work toward a happier and healthier future.

What is Self-Harm?

Self-harm, sometimes known as self-injury, refers to any physical behavior that causes you to be injured on purpose. Self-harm behaviors are unsafe coping mechanisms that some teens use as a way to find relief from overwhelming negative emotions. If you’re feeling empty and emotionally numb, self-harm is used as a way to feel something, even if that something is painful. Common self-harm behaviors include:

  • Cutting, scratching, or burning
  • Wound picking or puncturing skin with sharp objects
  • Self-hitting or pulling out hair

Why Do Teens Self-Harm?

Self-harm is often used as a way to make a person feel in control when everything else in that person’s life feels out of their control. People who perform self-harm behaviors report feeling calm after they inflict the injury, but their feelings quickly switch over to shame.

Self-harm is often a symptom that stems from other mental health disorders, which means proper treatment for the correct disorder can help reduce self-harm behaviors.

Self-harm can be a symptom of:

  •  Major depressive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

Self-harm behaviors can have short- and long-term effects, both physically and psychologically, including:

  • Scarring
  • Nerve damage
  • Infections
  • Isolation from others due to guilt and shame of the wounds
  • Increased risk of suicide


It’s important to note that self-harm is not that same as suicidality, though it can eventually lead there.

How Can Lightfully Teen Help Treat Self-Harm?

If your self-harm is becoming more severe, or you’re experiencing severe suicidal thoughts, call emergency services or speak to your mental health provider about being admitted into an inpatient treatment center. You can also call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988.

If you’re not in a mental health crisis, then Lightfully Teen can help you get to the root of your mental and emotional distress behind your self-harm. We use process-based therapy (PBT), a personalized clinical model that makes sure that you’re treating your entire well-being, not just your mental health disorder or symptoms.

Teens can progress their mental health journey by going through PBT integrated interventions, such as values clarification and motivational enhancement, to see measurable results. The interventions stem from four core processes that may contribute to self-harm:

  • Difficulty with emotions
  • Difficulty with thoughts
  • Difficulty with behaviors
  • Difficulty with relationships

How Can Lightfully Help With Your Self-Harm Behaviors?

Process-based therapy can help your self-harm in our three levels of care: Residential Treatment, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also called our Day Treatment Program.

Get Connected Today

We’re here when you’re ready. Send us a message using the link below or give us a call at 916.269.5371. Let us help shine a light on your path.

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