Self-Harm Therapy Online
What is self-harm?
Self-harm is defined as intentionally inflicting harm on one’s own body. This behaviour is often caused by emotional struggle, overwhelming emotions, or a desire to cope with psychological pain. It is not a suicide attempt but rather a maladaptive way of dealing with emotional pain. Symptoms of self-harm vary, from cutting, burning, hitting, and scratching, to any other behaviour that causes intentional physical harm.
Common signs of self-harm include unexplained cuts or bruises, wearing long sleeves even in warm weather to hide wounds, and isolation from social activities. While self-harm can affect individuals of various ages, it often emerges during adolescence and young adulthood. The emotional confusion of these developmental stages, coupled with societal pressures, can contribute to vulnerability. Intense unpleasant emotions, past trauma, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and difficulties expressing emotions also contribute to the problem.
Therapy approaches like cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), self-compassion and mindfulness techniques are effective in addressing emotional distress and helping develop healthier coping mechanisms.
When to seek help for self-harm?
Self-harm is a sign that something is not quite right. Underlying can be some other psychological issue that is worth paying attention to. Here are some indicators of when to seek help:
- Immediate danger: If you or someone else is in immediate danger due to self-harm, call emergency services right away.
- Frequent self-harm: If self-harming behaviours are becoming frequent or escalating in severity, it’s a sign that professional help is needed to address the underlying emotional distress.
- Inability to stop: If attempts to stop self-harming are unsuccessful, seeking support from a mental health professional is essential.
- Isolation: If self-harm is leading to social withdrawal, isolation, or interference with daily life activities.
- Emotional distress: Intense emotional pain, feelings of hopelessness, and overwhelming negative emotions are indicators that professional intervention is necessary.
- Impact on mental health: If self-harm is accompanied by symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns.
- Loss of control: If you or someone else feels unable to control the urge to self-harm.
- Supportive network: If friends, family, or loved ones express concern about self-harm, take their worries seriously and consider seeking professional help.
- Desire to change: If you recognize that self-harm is harming your well-being and want to find healthier ways to cope with emotions, therapy can provide effective tools.
- Preventing escalation: Seeking help early can prevent self-harm from escalating into more severe behaviours and can provide strategies to manage emotions.
Therapy for self-harm
Different types of therapy can help with self-harm, depending on the underlying issue, the person’s need and particular circumstances. We work with the following approaches, as we believe they are the best options for self-harm and related problems:
- Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT helps individuals identify negative thought patterns that contribute to self-harming behaviours. Therapists work with clients to challenge and reframe these thoughts, promoting healthier beliefs and behaviours as alternatives to self-harm.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT focuses on accepting difficult emotions without judgement while committing to positive behavioural changes. Additionally, it shows how to better deal with thoughts that trigger difficult emotions, by letting them by, rather than fighting with them.
- Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT): CFT emphasises cultivating self-compassion and addressing shame and self-criticism. It guides you to develop a kinder relationship with yourself, reducing the need for self-harm as a way of coping.
- Mindfulness-Based Therapies: Mindfulness-based approaches, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), teach individuals to be present, manage distressing emotions, and
CBT for self-harm
CBT is a widely used and effective therapeutic approach for addressing self-harm behaviours. Here’s how CBT works in the context of self-harm:
- Identifying thought patterns: Individuals learn to recognize the thought patterns that contribute to self-harm. These thoughts might include beliefs about worthlessness, hopelessness, and inability to cope. The therapist helps the individual become more aware of these automatic thoughts.
- Challenging unhelpful thoughts: Through guided discussions and the use of different tools, individuals learn to challenge and reframe their negative thoughts. They explore evidence for and against these thoughts, gaining a more balanced perspective. For instance, if the belief is “I’m a failure,” the therapist helps the individual find evidence that contradicts this belief.
- Developing coping strategies: Individuals are taught practical coping strategies to manage distressing emotions without resorting to self-harm.
- Behavioural alternatives: Individuals work with the therapist to develop alternative behaviours that can replace self-harm as a way of coping. These alternatives might involve engaging in activities that provide comfort, distraction, or emotional release.
- Stress management: CBT teaches stress management techniques that empower individuals to handle challenging situations more effectively. Learning to manage stress can reduce the urge to resort to self-harm during times of distress.
- Homework and practice: Outside of therapy sessions, individuals are encouraged to practise the skills learned in therapy. This might involve applying coping strategies in real-life situations and reflecting on the outcomes.
Our approach to self-harm therapy
Our approach to self-harm therapy is closely related to acceptance, mindfulness and compassion, as we bring together insights from various therapeutic modalities, including cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), compassion-focused therapy (CFT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). We are passionate about these approaches and believe in their potential to help people with a variety of issues, including self-harm.
Our aim is for you to bring something practical with you in every session, whether that is increased self-awareness, a new tool, a different perspective of how to look at things, enhanced acceptance and self-compassion skills, etc.
Self-harm is an unhelpful coping mechanism used as a way to manage emotional pain or overwhelming feelings. While the causes can vary for each individual, here are some factors that can contribute to self-harm:
- Difficult emotions: Emotional pain, intense sadness, anxiety, anger, frustration, and feelings of hopelessness can drive people to engage in self-harm as a way of coping.
- Lack of effective coping skills: People affected may not have healthy ways to cope with difficult emotions, making self-harm an accessible way to temporarily relieve emotional pain.
- Past trauma: Clients who have experienced trauma, abuse, or significant adverse events might turn to self-harm as a way to regain a sense of control over their bodies or emotions.
- Low self-esteem: Those with low self-esteem may engage in self-harm as a manifestation of self-loathing or self-punishment.
- Identity and expression: Some individuals use self-harm as a way to express their internal emotional turmoil when they find it difficult to communicate their feelings verbally.
- Psychological issues: Disorders like depression, anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, and eating disorders are often linked to self-harm.
- Sense of release: Engaging in self-harm might provide a temporary sense of relief from emotional pain or tension, creating a feedback loop where the behaviour is repeated.
Signs of self-harm
Signs of self-harm can encompass both physical and behavioural indicators. Here are common signs of self-harm:
- Visible cuts, scratches, or bruises: Unexplained wounds, especially in patterns or on areas that can be concealed, may indicate self-harm.
- Wearing concealing clothing: Wearing long sleeves, pants, or other concealing clothing, even in warm weather, might be an attempt to hide self-inflicted wounds.
- Bloodstains on personal items: Bloodstains on tissues, clothing, bedding, or personal belongings could be signs of self-harm.
- Frequent “accidents” or injuries: Frequent explanations for injuries as accidents or clumsiness may be an attempt to conceal self-harm behaviours.
- Increased sensitivity to touch: Self-harm wounds may make the affected area sensitive to touch or cause discomfort.
- Presence of sharp objects: Finding sharp objects like razors, scissors, or blades in the person’s belongings or living space could indicate self-harm tendencies.
- Obsession with tools: An unusual preoccupation with sharp objects, like collecting or hoarding them, might be a sign of self-harm tendencies.
- Frequent isolation in bathrooms or bedrooms: Spending excessive time alone in bathrooms or bedrooms might provide opportunities for self-harm.
Do you offer self-harm therapy near me?
We offer online self-harm therapy because this way we can reach you out whenever you are in the world. We are trained in the United Kingdom and provide cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), compassion-focused therapy (CFT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).