Self-harm

Despite the common stereotypes, self-harm is not ‘attention-seeking’. Many people will ‘suffer in silence’ for a long time, and it can be very hard to find the courage to ask for help. This may be due to feelings of shame and guilt, amongst other emotions.

Self-harm describes any behaviour where someone causes harm to themselves, usually as a way to help cope with difficult or distressing thoughts and feelings. It most frequently takes the form of cutting, burning or non- lethal overdoses. However, it can also be any behaviour that causes injury – no matter how minor, or high-risk behaviours.

There are all kinds of ways and reasons that someone may feel the need to hurt themselves. These include: expressing or coping with emotional distress, trying to feel in control, a way of punishing themselves, relieving unbearable tension, a ‘cry for help’, or in response to intrusive or distressing thoughts. Self-harm may be linked to bad experiences that are happening now, or in the past, but sometimes the reason is unknown.

Psychological therapy, specifically DBT skills, can help offer alternative ways of managing intense emotions that will be less harmful to you in the long-term; helping to empower you with choices and encouraging goal-directed actions.