Case Study: Addressing Self-Harm with a 14YO Girl

communication mental health relationships what to do when Nov 09, 2020

Case Study: Self-Harming 14-Year-Old Girl

by Julie Watson, MA, MHS, LMFT

Introduction: This case study revolves around a family facing a crisis as their 14-year-old daughter engaged in self-harming behavior due to online bullying. The parents sought assistance to understand and address the underlying issues causing their daughter's distress.

Problem Statement: The parents were deeply concerned about their daughter's moodiness, withdrawal, and self-harming tendencies. The girl yearned to "feel normal again," while her mother felt paralyzed witnessing her daughter's suffering. The excessive use of technology within the family also posed a significant challenge.

Methodology: An in-person meeting was arranged to gain insight into the family dynamics and the daughter's struggles. The focus was on identifying the reasons behind the excessive technology use. Several tension points within the family were observed, leading to the escape into technology. A relationship evaluation was conducted to address these issues, prioritizing key factors and needs. The family established a shared vision, mission, and objectives through open discussions. This provided the foundation to create boundaries and expectations around technology usage.

Results: The family transcended blame and shame, collaborating to develop a plan and vision resonating with all members. A tech-free night allowed them to feel more connected. During a follow-up session, the mother reported that although technology was still present, implementing the plan had significantly improved family dynamics. Three months later, both parents expressed satisfaction, feeling they had reclaimed their daughter and a sense of family unity.

Testimonial: The parents initially felt apprehensive but were comforted when the consultant, Julie, arrived. Julie's understanding and ability to quickly uncover the underlying challenges put them at ease. She provided valuable insights and crafted an action plan that proved invaluable. The parents appreciated Julie's expertise, which allowed them to identify and address the root causes of their struggles, significantly impacting their family.

Conclusion: This case study demonstrates how a family overcame the challenges of a self-harming 14-year-old girl and excessive technology use. The family achieved unity by identifying core issues, establishing a shared vision, implementing boundaries, and regaining their daughter's well-being. It highlights the importance of addressing underlying problems and fostering open communication within families facing similar challenges.