People who harm themselves deliberately do so as a way of surviving – they do not want to die (although it is high risk behaviour and deaths do occur). It is the only way that some people know to try to cope with extreme distress.
We all self-harm to some extent – whether it is by drinking too much alcohol, eating too much sweet or fried food or having too much screen time, etc. We tend to do these things when we are feeling stressed. And stress is the result of emotional needs not being met in balance.
When people deliberately harm themselves, it is an extreme form of the above.
The complicating factor is the addictive nature of self-injury – the neurochemicals that are naturally released in response to injury – opioids and serotonin. These can be addictive, as they induce pleasant feelings (similar to the effect of heroin) of calm and well-being.
How I can help with self-harm:
- By listening – understanding and empathising with the emotional distress behind the behaviour
- Understanding that it is an attempt at coping
- Helping you identify triggers
- As a specialist in trauma, I can help you deal with any unresolved psychological trauma related to the self-harm
- Setting realistic goals for behaviour change
- Learning how to manage emotions, calm down and relax
- Helping you understand how self-harm tricks our brain
- Where appropriate, agreeing a safety plan
- Identifying needs not met and a strategy for meeting these needs
- Exploring alternative, positive coping mechanisms
- Relapse prevention