What is self-harm?

Life can be distressing, and at times, our emotions can be overwhelming and difficult to manage. For some people, the only way to cope with these feelings is to inflict damage on themselves. This is known as self-harming. There are many reasons why someone might self-harm, though it is often linked to anxiety, depression, and past trauma. Although self-harm can be linked to suicidal feelings, it often has other functions. For example, someone might self-harm to punish themselves for certain thoughts or behaviours, to communicate unbearable distress, to reduce their emotional pain by focusing on physical pain, or as a way to make themselves feel alive if they feel numb inside.

Some forms of self-harm include:

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

Whilst self-harming might offer you some brief relief, it doesn’t change or solve any of your problems, and instead it can damage your body and make you feel guilty, ashamed, and even lower than you felt before. Whilst you may not have suicidal feelings, self-harm is strongly related to suicide with over half of people who die of suicide having a prior history of self-harm. If you feel that the above applies to you, it might be useful to confide in your GP about your emotional difficulties. Therapy can also greatly help you to overcome this issue by identifying and working through the underlying psychological issues that make you vulnerable to self-harm, and by teaching you new effective coping strategies for managing your feelings so that self-harm no longer feels like the only option.

Which therapies might help?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
Schema therapy
Cognitive analytic therapy

The highly specialist team at My Online Therapy all have expertise in the management and treatment of self-harm and can help you.