Hi Dr. Raj,
I’m having a bit of a problem finding the right psychologist for my problem. I’m 21 and have been self-injuring since I was 12. Do you know of any good resources in the New York area for people suffering with this issue? Thanks for your time.
First of all let me acknowledge your commitment to wanting to learn how to better manage your mental and emotional life; as you know, it’s anything but simple; I think some of the most powerful individuals are those who are seeking insight into understanding themselves and why they do the things they do; thus, your ahead of many in that you seem committed to wanting to learn about yourself and how to manage your feelings.
With that said, I would suggest that the most important thing to monitor for anyone who has thoughts of self-injury is their safety; if anyone feels that they are not going to be able to control their urge of wanting to self injure, then they must check into a hospital to make sure that they stay safe; remember that a 3 – 5 day stay in the hospital is not a huge amount of time in the big picture.
The next issue to address is why people self injure; one reason they do so is in moments they feel emotionally overwhelmed; in fact there is a specific type of therapy that has been developed called DBT to help teach skills that help in such moments; DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy; this is a psychosocial treatment developed by Marsha Linehan specifically to treat individuals who have difficulty managing their emotions.
The basic idea is that at one end of the spectrum is emotional mind where at the other end of the spectrum is logical mind: those individuals that have difficulty managing their emotions and sometimes engage in self injurious behaviors live on the emotional end and have a difficult time accessing the logical parts of their mind; thus, DBT is designed to help access the logical mind and achieve the state of mind referred to as mindfulness.
Logical Mind — — — — — — — — -Mindfulness — — — — — — — — — -Emotional Mind
It has been shown to help manage one’s emotions which in turn can lead to a decrease is self injurious behaviors.
With regards to resources in NYC, I know that Roosevelt Hospital in NYC has a DBT based program that you may find helpful; they are located at 59th and 10th; their number is 1 – 212-523‑6983; remember that as you learn to manage your emotions more efficiently, it will get easier; we can overcome unhealthy behaviors as long as we seek support and treatment by the right individuals.