Some people might say “teens choose the wrong path; they choose to follow friends that had a bad influence on them” but you really have to thank God when your teenager turns out to be a productive, responsible, healthy person. Some teens get on the wrong path because there were other issues that they faced in their critical years of life (5 – 8 years old) that caused them to do various things to numb the pain of the past. Cutting and self-harm is one such behavior.
Teens that hurt themselves on purpose are engaging in self-harm or self-injurious behaviors. One form of self-harm is cutting. This is when a teen cuts themselves using a sharp object to break the skin or to draw blood. Self-harm and cutting signal a greater problem – emotional or psychological distress. A teen that cuts herself when feeling stressed or depressed does so by choice and by her own will. She may tell you that she has an uncontrollable impulse to hurt herself by cutting, but she understands that the idea comes from her own mind. Teens who self-injure may be feeling levels of distress that can lead to suicidal feelings or actions.
Some signs that your teen may be cutting are:
- Cut or burn marks on arms, legs abdomen
- Discovery of hidden razors, knives, other sharp instruments and rubber bands
- Spending long periods of time alone, especially in the bedroom or bathroom
- Wearing clothing inappropriate for the weather, such as long-sleeve or pants in hot weather.
Parents who find out that their teen is cutting or self-injuring may have a range of reactions from shock, denial, anger, frustration, to empathy, sympathy sadness and guilt. When parents learn that their teen is self-injuring they should address the problem immediately and not assume that their teen will “grow out of it.”
Treatment for Cutting and Self-Harm
The increased desire to spend time with peers is a normal developmental aspect of adolescence. However, it can be difficult for parents because it causes conflict in the family when the parents are worried that self-injury episodes are triggered or worsened by peer interactions. At Columbus Girl’s Academy the issue of cutting is approached as another form of addiction and destructive behavior that is used to mask deeper issues within the person. We believe that Jesus Christ is the answer to heal these deeper hurts.
Our mission is to “offer life-transformation to individuals through Christ-centered programs. The Columbus Girl’s Academy is not a boot camp where the program is more punitive than redemptive, but rather, we help parents learn how to manage their teenage daughter by taking the necessary steps for the teen to gain control of their emotions through discipline, love and responsibility. We help parents recognize that we are as much committed to the health of their child and the health of the family. Therefore we teach our parents tough love; when parents spend thousands of dollars year after year on treatment for a child and the child continues to violate and runaway, then other solutions become necessary.
The parents are taught how to respond to the child in a healthy way; “We value you, we love you, we feel this is the best treatment for you at this time but if you will not accept the help we are offering through the Teen Challenge Columbus Girl’s Academy , you are not welcomed to come back home until you have completed the therapeutic program.
The Columbus Girl’s Academy operates a very structured environment where there is a balance of academics, spirituality, hard work, fun and fellowship. We have a 200 acre property with a huge lake and boating house, a swimming pool, basketball court, softball and baseball fields and a prayer trail. Our counseling sessions are geared to help the student identify the triggers of their behavior, how to control these triggers and respond instead of react to situations. Counseling is done on a one-on-one basis, group counseling and family counseling. Parents are taught how to pick their battles and not argue with the teenage daughter who is constantly in a power battle with the parents. They are encouraged to give positive feedback to their child as the situation warrants and staff and students are encouraged to affirm each other. Phrases such as “please,” “thank you,” “I believe in you,” “I am proud of you” are constantly part of the vocabulary here at Columbus Girl’s Academy.
Our residential program is administered by qualified staff who work twenty four hours per day to promote and support the emotional well being of every student. We offer accredited classroom work where students are able to graduate with their high school diploma or have their credits transferred back to their school. The Teen Challenge Columbus Girl’s Academy has a balanced combination of academics, spirituality, athletics, therapy, social and life skills.