"Dr. Allison Kress is well known to us at S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES®, as a clinician who has dedicated herself to the understanding and treatment of those who self-injure. We highly recommend her to anyone in need of such services. Dr. Kress truly goes above and beyond in helping people who are in need of therapy and her dedication to treating self-injurers never wavers."
Wendy Lader, Ph.D., M.Ed.
Co-Founders, S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES®
If you or someone you love is suffering from cutting or self-injuring, you may feel isolated and alone in your struggle. I am here to answer your call and help you through the process of recovery.
As one of the leading national experts – and one of the few therapists in California and Washington – specializing in cutting and other types of self-injury, I have successfully helped many adolescents and adults overcome and end self-injury. I trained with world renowned experts in the field, Dr. Wendy Lader, Ph.D. and Karen Conterio from the inpatient program S.A.F.E. Alternatives, and I blend their treatment philosophies and treatment interventions with my own approach.
I wrote my doctoral dissertation on adolescent females who engage in cutting, and used my years of research and clinical practice in this area to develop a unique treatment workbook as a hands-on guide for my clients as they reflect on and change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In addition, as a highly sought after speaker, I often present to schools, agencies, and the media on this topic. I also consult with parents and professionals to help them gain an understanding of self-injury and how to help those needing their assistance and support.
"Thank You Dr. Kress, for being the one therapist who was able to reach my daughter. We had almost lost hope -- having been to several other professionals who claimed to have the ability to cure our daughter’s self-mutilation. You brought us out of our despair with your gifts for understanding. The practical tools you gave our daughter made the difference in bringing her through this difficult and scary time."
—Parents of 15 year old girl, Aliso Viejo, CA
"Dr. Kress, when I first came to see you, I had pretty much given up hope. I had been self- injuring for some time, and I just thought it was the way I was going to have to live my life. I had tried several times to stop before, but nothing seemed to work. That is until I found you. You helped give me the strength, tools, insight, and determination to overcome this battle. We worked as a team, at my pace. You intuitively knew when to challenge me and when not to, and your genuine and caring nature made sharing my most personal stories, thoughts, and feelings very comfortable and natural. Because of our work together, I can confidently say for the first time in my life that I know I can live my life self-injury free."
—27 year old female, San Diego, CA
"When we first brought our daughter in to see you, she was cutting herself almost daily and told us she was not going to talk to you because she didn’t need help. By the time she walked out of her first session with you, something in her had clearly changed. Not only did she want to return to see you, but she was actually open to the idea of stopping her self-injury. As I write this approximately a year later, my daughter has not only stopped cutting herself, but she is a much happier, confident, and well-rounded girl. Our family will be forever grateful for the work that you did with her. Her life is now going down a very good path."
—Parents of 13 year old girl, Irvine, CA
Warning Signs That Someone You Care About
Scars on arms or legs, lots of secrets, seems physically or emotionally absent, seems distracted or distant, or disappears frequently.
Clear Warnings Include:
- Starts to offer flimsy or the same excuses for wounds, and gets anxious, annoyed or vague when you ask for details. Example: excuses are things like: a cat scratch, sports injury, or a clumsy accident that doesn’t seem like it would happen to the person.
- Starts wearing long sleeves and long pants in warm weather.
- You find odd objects like bent paper clips, pieces of glass, and razor blades in unusual locations.
Behavior and Emotional Changes Include:
- Withdrawal from friends and family, work or school.
- Sensitivity, difficulty handling anger, negative comments about themselves, feelings of extreme shame, worthlessness, or self-loathing.
- Eating disorders, alcohol or drug abuse, or stealing
Did You Know:
- Cutting plagues millions of Americans
- Cutting is treatable and 100% recovery is possible.
- In general, cutting is a cry for help, a way of showing that a person is suffering and is in emotional pain.
- 12-22% of adolescents and young adults have at one time harmed themselves.
- 75% of people who have self-injured once will repeat the injury.
- Cutting in men is on the rise.
- In general, cutting is a progressive behavior: It usually does not get better without professional treatment.
What Parents Can Do:
If you think your son or daughter is hurting himself or herself, take action right away because this behavior is very damaging if it is not treated. Here are 5 steps you can take:
1. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’ve been very concerned about you. I see all these scars on your arms, and I think you may be hurting yourself. If that’s the case, I want you to know that you can talk to me about it. I just want to help.”
2. The person may need to know that he or she won’t be punished.
3. Be a good listener, non-judgmental, and understanding.
4. Try to put aside your feelings about the situation and see things from their point of view. Questions like “Why are you doing this?” may make them clam up. He or she may not know why she is doing it.
5. Encourage your son or daughter to acknowledge the problem and his or her need for support and professional help. This may be hard to do, so suggest that if the behavior is not really a problem, then this will be confirmed by talking to an expert like a psychologist.