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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Self-Injury Help

Q. Can you please tell me if there is a hospital or facility with an understanding staff which deals specifically with self injury? I have a relative who inflects self injury and would like to try to get help without making the situation worse by committing him to a mental hospital. Who are the experts in this area?

A. There are quite a few experts on self-injurious behavior (SIB), but it probably makes more sense to find out who is close to your relative. The treatment of SIB often requires months or even years, and that means finding someone who is readily available for outpatient treatment. I would suggest logging on to a very helpful website that has many resources listed world-wide. This site is http://www.kidsindrugfreesociety.com/~llama/psych/intro.html. Alternatively, you can try calling 800-366-8288 (1-800-DON'T-CUT) for referrals.

Another approach is to find a therapist with expertise in a form of psychotherapy called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, pioneered by Dr. Marsha Linehan. DBT is often helpful for individuals with certain personality disorders in which SIB is very common. All that said, any competent psychiatrist or clinical psychologist could be of help to your relative. Since there are medications that may be quite helpful with SIB, a psychiatrist might be in a better position to provide the most comprehensive treatment approach. I hope your relative is able to get help soon.

Other Resources:

June 2001
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