Noted Psychologist Shares What You Should Know About Adolescent Cutting

Erin Leonard photo

Cutting is a terrifying and serious epidemic plaguing adolescents. Recent studies have found that one-third to one-half of adolescents in the US have engaged in some type of self-injurious behavior.

As a psychotherapist who specializes in treating teens who self-harm, I have been baffled by this for years. This act of mutilation makes no sense. After all, youth is fleeting and adults are desperate to maintain their health and vitality, so why do the young intentionally compromise their own?

Three phenomena help explain why an adolescent is compelled to cut. The first is developmental. Secondly,  an adolescent is more vulnerable to the anxiety that proceeds self-harm due to a decrease in outside time. Lastly, free play, which systematically helps a child master anxiety by providing a continuous feeling of control, as well as the chance to be creative and work out inner conflicts, has largely diminished in young people’s lives.

Read the full article here including useful tips for parents and caregivers to help facilitate a healthy mind and body connection. Dr. Erin Leonard’s post originally appeared on in March 2017.