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