Self Harm

Self Harm

By Clare Smart, LifeWorks Consultant

Self Harm

What is self harm?
Self harm is a common problem and many people are struggling to deal with it. Perhaps you feel or have felt the need to harm yourself, perhaps you have been self-harming for some time or maybe you have a friend or family member who is self-harming and you want to help them.

Many people find it difficult to understand why people harm themselves and how it could possibly help them to feel better. By deliberately hurting their bodies, people often say that they can change their state of mind so that they can cope better with emotional pain. The physical pain may distract from the emotional pain or it may give a sense of release or a way of feeling something when they feel otherwise numb.

Because there is a big stigma attached to self-harm, people tend to be secretive and feel guilty which can lead to other problems for that person.

Self-harm includes lots of things that a person may do to themselves in a usually deliberate and hidden way;

  • Cutting
  • Burning
  • Scalding
  • Banging or scratching your own body
  • Breaking bones
  • Pulling hair
  • Swallowing poisons or objects

  • Self-harm is not just a problem for children, adolescents and young people, it can also affect people throughout adulthood. The reasons that people give for self-harming tend to be as a means of getting rid of feelings of anger, hurt and pain and because the person does not know how else to cope with these feelings and they feel that there is no other option.

    Self-harm is NOT about seeking attention. Most self-harm is done in secret for a long time and it can be very hard for people to seek help.

    Self harm is NOT an attempt to commit suicide. Most people who self-harm are not trying to kill themselves and for many it is a way of staying alive and coping. However, many people who commit suicide have self-harmed in the past and that is one of the reasons that self-harm should be taken very seriously and not viewed as 'attention seeking.'

    Talking about self-harm.

    If you are self harming, you should tell somebody. It is possible to get good support from people who understand self-harm and can help you with your feelings.

    It can be very hard to tell someone and to decide who to tell. It shows great courage and can be a relief to let go of such a secret.

    The reaction that a person gets when they disclose their self-harm can have a massive impact on them accepting help to recover. If someone tells you that they are self-harming try to be accepting and open minded. They need understanding, care and concern for their injuries as well as non-judgemental encouragement to talk about their feelings. Offer to help them find professional help.

    How can Counselling help with Self harm?

    Many people have said that having someone to listen to them and to help them to work out a solution to their problems is the most helpful thing of all.

    Counselling is a way of guiding a person to find out what makes them happy, sad, angry, isolated, vulnerable or strong. The counsellor will then help the person to start developing other ways of coping with these feelings and situations as well as learning distraction methods to help the person to cope and find a release without doing any real harm.

    Clare Smart - Consultant

    LifeWorks :

    PH: 04 3942464
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