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  • Writer's pictureHeather Steele

What is Self Harm and How Can Counseling Help Treat it?



Self-harm, also known as self-injury or self-mutilation, is a behavior in which an individual intentionally causes harm to their own body. This can take many forms, such as cutting, burning, or hitting oneself, and can cause both physical and emotional pain.


Self-harm is often a symptom of a deeper issue, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma, and is not a disorder in and of itself. Counseling can be an effective way to help individuals who self-harm learn coping mechanisms and gain insight into the underlying issues that drive their behavior.


How do counselors help someone that is harming themelves?

Counseling is a form of talk therapy that can be done on an individual or group basis. The goal of counseling is to help individuals understand and process their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a safe and supportive environment. Counselors can help individuals who self-harm learn to identify triggers, or situations and emotions that lead to self-harm, and develop strategies to manage and cope with these triggers. They can also help individuals understand the underlying emotions and thoughts that drive their self-harm behavior, and work through these issues.


CBT Therapy to Address Self Harm

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of counseling that is often used to treat individuals who self-harm. CBT is based on the idea that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all interconnected, and that changing one aspect of this triad can lead to changes in the other two. In CBT, individuals work with a counselor to identify negative thoughts and beliefs that may be contributing to their self-harm behavior, and learn to challenge and reframe these thoughts. They also learn coping strategies and problem-solving skills to help them manage difficult emotions and situations.


DBT Therapy for Overcoming Self Harm

Another form of counseling that can be helpful for individuals who self-harm is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT is a form of CBT that also incorporates elements of mindfulness and Eastern philosophy. It emphasizes the importance of balancing the acceptance of one's current situation with the desire to change. In DBT, individuals learn to accept their emotions and behaviors, without judgment, while also working to change them. DBT also teaches individuals how to regulate their emotions, communicate effectively, and develop a sense of self-worth.


Self Harm Therapy Groups

Group therapy can be also an effective form of treatment for self-harm, as it provides a sense of connection and understanding to individuals who may feel isolated and misunderstood. Group therapy can be especially helpful for individuals who are struggling with self-harm because it allows them to share their experiences and learn from others who have had similar struggles. In group therapy, individuals can receive support, validation, and encouragement as they work towards healing and recovery.


Seek Self Harm Counseling and Therapy from Trained Professionals

Self-harm is a serious and complex issue that requires professional help. It is important to remember that individuals who self-harm are not seeking attention or being dramatic; they are in pain and in need of help. Counseling can be an effective way to help individuals who self-harm gain insight into the underlying issues driving their behavior, learn coping mechanisms and strategies to manage difficult emotions, and work towards healing and recovery. It is important to seek the help of a trained professional, and not to try to handle this issue by yourself. Contact our team at Morrisville Counseling if you or someone you know is in need of help.


It is worth noting that self-harm is a sensitive topic and it is important that counselors use a trauma informed approach and to be aware of the risk of re-traumatization during the therapy. The person should be at the center of the therapy and the treatment should be tailored to their specific needs, not a general approach. Also, self-harm is a sign of serious emotional distress and it is important to seek professional help if you or a loved one is struggling with self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Want to learn more? Check out our article on therapy and counseling to address eating disorders, here.


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