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.

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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

If you have started to engage in self-harm in order to deal with difficult emotions, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. People can put themselves at high levels of risk in order to manage their emotions and self-harm can have serious consequences. Please consult your GP or seek the support of a psychologist or psychiatrist as soon as possible.

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

Yes, you should definitely still seek help. The fact that you are engaging in self-harm indicates that you are experiencing high levels of stress and you don’t have the sufficient coping mechanisms in place to deal with these emotions. It’s important to intervene as soon as possible before self-harm becomes more of a long-term pattern.

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Athena Lazaridou

Athena is a Pilates instructor with 8 years’ experience in the field. After completing a Power Pilates Mat Certification in Athens, she went on to complete the Full Comprehensive Classical Pilates Certification with Equinox in Kensington.  She has been teaching Pilates at Equinox for the past 6 years in addition to her own private clients who she trains both face to face and virtually.

Athena has a passion for helping people get stronger and fitter as well as helping those recovering from injury regain their strength and mobility.  Over the years, she has worked with athletes to incorporate Pilates into their training and improve performance. Athena has also worked with prenatal and postnatal women who may be experiencing depression or other mental health difficulties and used Pilates to facilitate a positive impact on their mental health.

Athena is very passionate about improving physical and mental well-being and has recently incorporated Sound Healing into her work, as she believes it to be one of the best ways of ‘letting go’ and releasing stale energy whilst increasing greater self-awareness.