Today’s podcast topic is the troubling issue of physical self-harm among children. Dr. Donald Greydanus writes in the Psychiatric Times that “deliberate self-harm is a behavior in which a person commits an act with the purpose of physically harming (themselves) with or without a real intent of suicide.”
Self-harm is an effort to cope with unmanageable emotional pain. While the effort might be maladaptive, it is also effective. Dr. Joe Franklin writes, “One of the most common reasons individuals give for injuring themselves is that it reduces emotional pain. That may be because the physical pain relief that follows a self-injury event, (the relief when the physical pain is over), basically tricks the brain into perceiving relief for emotional pain, too”.
Unfortunately, that relief is temporary and does nothing to ameliorate the underlying issues that led to self-harm in the first place. A vicious cycle can follow, with self-loathing, judgement from others and an increase in depression and anxiety. In fact, the risk for eventual suicide increases following each subsequent incident of self-harm.
In this episode, our guest is with Daniela Ruiz-Cedeno, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at The Guidance Center’s San Pedro Clinic. Daniela is our certified lead in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT. DBT is a mental health treatment developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan from the University of Washington, which has been shown to be highly effective with chronically suicidal clients and those who have eating or substance abuse disorders or engage in self-injurious behaviors. Daniela treats our highest crisis clients and trains her peers in the provision of DBT care.
In My Backyard is brought to you by The Guidance Center, a children’s mental health agency in Long Beach, CA. In My Backyard is produced by Tricia Costales and Matthew Murray. Thank you to Jay Vincent B for original music. All other music licensed through SoundStripe. Thank you to our listeners and supporters.
Please visit tgclb.org or text HOPE to 562-262-5689 to make a one-time donation or join our Hope and Healing Club to become a monthly donor today. And subscribe to In My Backyard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.