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Raising Mentally Healthy Kids with Michelle Nietert

Nov 2, 2021

In the second half of my conversation with Certified Licensed Professional Counselor Lori Vann, we’re continuing our discussion about non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) including why it can be dangerous to punish or ignore a child engaging in self-harm, what’s involved in a good treatment plan from a specialized counselor, and what to do when you don’t see your child’s behaviors improving.

Key points from our conversation:

💣 It can be dangerous to punish or ignore a child involved in self-harm. Although self-injury is not a suicide attempt, there is a suicide correlation. The intent matters.

🗣️ It’s vital to find a counselor who specializes in self-injury. Interview the counselor and ask general questions. There are a lot of resources and different therapies that are effective.

✍️ For a coping skill to be effective, it needs to match the trigger for self-harm. Often the child wants people to know how they’re feeling, but they don’t have the words. It can be helpful for some kids to draw on their skin. Skin-to-skin touch can be a calming technique and it grounds them on a visual and physical level.

😔 It’s important the child doesn’t feel shame. Model self-compassion and be a safe family to talk about emotions feely. Meet the child where they are and help them manage their emotions in different ways.

✨ Perfectionism and self-injury have a connection. There’s a control dynamic. It’s not an act of rebellion, it’s a cry for help.

🤝 Treatment should be a collaborative effort among the counselor, parents, and child. Parents should get updates and tips from the counselor to better understand what’s happening. If the parents and child are in conflict, it can be beneficial to get family counseling from a different counselor. Good family therapy addresses the family’s communication style and rules as well as how they deal with emotions.

🩹 If you have previously engaged in self-harm, be honest with your child about it. Teach them the coping skills that helped you learn how to get through it. You don’t need to go into detail or give a lecture. Let them know you’ll answer any questions.

Resources mentioned:

Lori interviews Dr. Phil about Self-Injury and Suicide
Institute for Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Instagram

Lori Vann has been privileged to be called by her professional peers “the Guru” and an “authority” on Non-Suicidal Self-Injury, in addition, to being considered one of the top counselors in the Metroplex when it comes to developing interns into highly ethical and professional counselors who are sought after by counseling centers.  Her 20+ years of counseling experience in a variety of locations from inpatient psychiatric, non-profit, school districts, outpatient clinics to private practice has provided her with a unique, well-rounded perspective that benefits not only her staff, her interns, the licensed counselors she trains during her ethics’ events, but also the community.

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