Self Harm

"Conquer the mind"

WHAT IS SELF HARM?

Self-harm is any behaviour carried out as a way to intentionally hurt yourself. Self-harm is more than just a physical act. It’s often used as a way to manage overwhelming emotional distress.

Some people use self-harm as a form of self-punishment or in an attempt to stop feelings of dissociation and numbness. Others may use it as a way to make emotional pain visible. Very often, it’s a combination of all of these factors that leads a person to self-harm.

 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF SELF HARM:

  • Cutting or severely scratching your skin Burning or scalding yourself
  • Hitting yourself or banging your head
  • Punching things or throwing your body against walls or hard objects
  • Sticking objects into your skin
  • Intentionally preventing wounds from healing
  • Taking overdoses with tablets or toxic chemicals

While self-harm may provide some temporary relief in the moment, it can lead to serious injury. If you’re currently engaging in self-harming behaviours, it’s important that you reach out to your GP or a therapist.

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TREATMENT FOR SELF HARM

Self-harm often has its roots in trauma and for this reason, talking therapy is the most effective treatment. In therapy, you will learn healthier copy strategies for managing difficult emotions so that self-harm no longer feels like the only option.

One of the most effective treatments for self-harm is dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). DBT aims to understand the sequence of events and triggers that can lead to an episode of self-harm. It is a non-judgmental therapy that works to increase your understanding around why you resort to this behaviour. DBT will teach you a range of emotional management strategies and it can be delivered either as individual therapy, in a group or as a combination of the two.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

When should I get help for self-harm?

If you have started to engage in self-harm in order to deal with difficult emotions, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. People can put themselves at high levels of risk in order to manage their emotions and self-harm can have serious consequences. Please consult your GP or seek the support of a psychologist or psychiatrist as soon as possible.

What are the most effective treatments for self-harm?

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Schema Therapy are the most effective treatments for self-harm.

My self-harm is superficial - should I still seek help?

Yes, you should definitely still seek help. The fact that you are engaging in self-harm indicates that you are experiencing high levels of stress and you don’t have the sufficient coping mechanisms in place to deal with these emotions. It’s important to intervene as soon as possible before self-harm becomes more of a long-term pattern.

MANAGING harmful behaviours

  • Reach Out for Professional Help: Consult with a mental health professional, such as a therapist, counsellor, or psychiatrist, who can assess the underlying issues contributing to self-harming behaviours and guide you through effective coping strategies.
  • Establish a Support System: Share your struggles with trusted friends, family members, or support groups. Having a reliable support system can offer understanding, empathy, and encouragement during challenging times.
  • Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms:Identify and practice alternative coping mechanisms to replace self-harm. This could include engaging in activities that bring joy, relaxation, or a sense of accomplishment, such as exercise, art, music, or mindfulness.
  • Create a Safety Plan: Work with a mental health professional to develop a safety plan that outlines steps to take when you feel overwhelmed or tempted to self-harm. Include emergency contacts, coping strategies, and calming activities.
  • Understand Triggers: Identify situations, emotions, or stressors that trigger self-harming tendencies. Learning to recognize and manage these triggers is a crucial step in preventing self-destructive behaviours.
  • Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Explore mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation exercises to help manage stress and stay present in the moment. These techniques can enhance emotional regulation and reduce impulsivity.
  • Keep a Journal: Document your thoughts and emotions in a journal. Writing can be a therapeutic outlet, helping you gain insight into your feelings and track patterns that may contribute to self-harm.
  • Stay Connected: Maintain regular communication with your mental health professionals and support network. Regular check-ins can help prevent isolation and ensure you receive ongoing support.

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