Patented Q & A Database


I recently found out through my daughters diary that she has been cutting herself.I am not mad or upset I just feel kind of numb. My daughter is 14 and i am a single parent. We have been seeing a therapist for about 3-4 months now. She had to fill out a worksheet before meeting with him and on the sheet she admitted to trying to harm herself. I never knew this and of course I was upset to tears. So far we have not addressed this in therapy, we have been talking about the same subject for the entire time we have been going to him. I don't know if this is normal or not. She admitted to my mother that she hasn't cut herself in 2 yrs. I don't believe that because in an entry dated Dec 07 she said she was back to her "wrist habit" this is what she calls it. I called her therapist and he didn't seem too concerned. He was just like oh Jeez, and said that I should go through her room to look for more razors. he said she didn't mention anything to him. Well I guess not, she is the one in therapy and yet he tells me to sit in the room also for the entire time. I would think she would be reluctant to speak about a lot with me sitting right there. However if I wasn't there I don't know that she would discuss anything with him. I asked if I should check her into a mental health facility and have her evaluated and he said no. I am thinking of switching therapist but it was hard enough to find him. My insurance company gives me a list of people who say they deal with children and when I call, they either don't see children, don't accept insurance, or never answer the phone.I called the boystown hotline and the person I spoke with said I should sit down and tell her that i know about the cutting and just talk about it but to find another therapist. I know her relationship or lack of a relationship with her father plays a major part in her acting out and her mood swings, he doesn't seem too concerned about this situation either. Am I over reacting? Do you have any other suggestions?


Debra Brooks Replied: First, you are not over-reacting. Self-injuring can develop into a habit. It is best to address it now. See if you can talk to your daughter's therapist without her present so that you can let him know that you are seriously concerned. After talking with the therapist, sit down and tell your daughter that you are aware of her cutting. Don't be judgmental, but let her know that you want to help if you can. It may help her to know that someone is aware of the level of her pain. Isolation accelerates behaviors such as self-injury. Your daughter's urge to cut might be triggered by strong feelings that she can't express — such as anger, hurt, shame, frustration, or alienation. Cutting might seem like the only way for her to find relief or express the pain. In the meantime, help your daughter to find alternative ways to deal with her anger/stress/pain; hitting a pillow, playing loud music, singing loudly, and dancing are but a few of the things she could do.
Posted On 2010-05-18 16:44:44
Norman Hoffman, Ph.D. Replied: Wow! You certainly have a lot on your plate. However, to attempt to respond to your first question, your daughter has a serious problem, especially, from what I can surmise, she is not talking about her very important issues with her "therapist." Issues of lethality or self-mutilation, must be dealt with before any meaningful therapy can begin. This must be done in an open and carefully planned manner by a licensed mental health professional who is educated, experienced and trained under "good" supervision, with specific child developmental skills that allow the therapist to comprehend and work with your daughter. There must be an open plan, that you should be involved in, to assist with your daughter's therapeutic progress. With regard to your second issue, you will need legal advice to determine if there is cause to "terminate parental rights" of your former spouse. If not, he has a right to be in your daughter's life. This is a very sticky matter and should be best handled by a solid family attorney in your location. I hope I have been of some help to you with your very serious matter. I can be available to you with further questions.
Posted On 2008-07-26 07:59:05
Charlotte Cowan, M.D. Replied: You are absolutely right to be concerned about your daughter's cutting of herself. It sounds to me as if you have several longstanding issues that need to be addressed (one is communication, another is trust)and you are to be commended for seeking psychological help for your daughter and yourself. This is not easy but it is critically important: good for you!! I have a number of suggestions: 1. You could make an appointment with your pediatrician to discuss your concerns. Ask your pediatrician whether she would like to see just you or the two of you together. Ask her about the therapist and tell her what your observations have been. She may well know other psychologists in your health plan who might be a better fit. 2. You could take these concerns into your next session with the therapist and your daughter. You are clearly concerned about your daughter's cutting behaviors, and the issue that you read her diary needs to be handled out in the open. A good therapist will help her to see that your violation of trust (reading her diary) was out of love and he will also suggest more appropriate means of learning about your daughter's life. 3. It is unusual for the therapist to be seeing both of you together. It might be a good idea to ask him for a referral just for you. That way your daughter could have a primary and confidential relationship with him which is entirely appropriate for an adolescent. And you could have a relationship in which you could air your concerns and get advice without frightening or upsetting her. Of course there are times when it is appropriate to confront issues together. Good luck!
Posted On 2008-07-25 09:19:40
Press Esc to close