Self-harm may be a source of dealing with deep emotions of stress, anxiety, and pain. It might help people to express their feelings they can't put into words, divert them from the stressful events they confront on a daily basis, or release their emotional distress. Thereafter, you eventually feel comfort, at least for a few moments or minutes, depending on your emotional capacity. After that, the same tormenting feelings return, and you feel the urge to hurt yourself once again.
What is Self-Harm?
Nonsuicidal self-injury, simply known as self-injury or self-harm, is the act of deliberately and intentionally harming or hurting one's own body, such as through cutting, scratching, hitting, or burning themselves. It's typically not considered as a suicide attempt. However, this type of self-injury is an injurious way to cope with emotional pain, intense aggression, panic, and frustration.
Although self-harm can bring a temporary sense of comfort, a release of frustration and tension, it's mainly followed by emotions of guilt and shame and the return of painful emotions again after a while. Even though life-threatening injuries or a suicide attempt are usually not intended while harming oneself, it opens doors to more serious and even lethal self-destructive actions that can lead to severe mental health issues and problems.
How to find a Self-Harm Therapist
If you are looking to find the perfect Self-Harm therapist it is crucial to make sure that they have the appropriate qualifications, knowledge and experience. At Expat Therapy 4U we only accept therapists who have full professional proficiency in English and are highly experienced in working with people from culturally diverse backgrounds. The clinicians we approve share our values and commitment to provide high quality therapy to the expatriate community in the private sector across Europe and online worldwide. We strongly believe that therapy changes lives, and being accredited ensures all our therapists are qualified to a high standard. You can find a Self-Harm therapist who is insured to practice and accredited with a recognised membership body online here.
Types of Self-Harm
Self-harm includes everything people do to intentionally injure themselves. Self-harm usually occurs privately and is done in a controlled or ritualistic manner that often leaves signs on the skin or on private parts if it’s done on these parts of the body.
Few of the more common ways of self-harm include making cuts on one’s body parts or scratching them, burning skin with lit matches or cigarettes, or carving words on one’s skin using sharp objects such as knives or needles. People doing self-harm also punch walls or hard objects and bang their head against hard object, severely injuring it sometimes. Victims of self-harm may also stick objects in their skin and sometimes swallow poisonous substances such as acid.
Targeted parts for self-harm
Most repeatedly, the arms, legs and front of the torso are the targets of self-injury, but any other area of the body may be used for self-injury. Some people might use more than one way to harm themselves, which include any of the above-discussed ways.
Sadness and emotions of shame and guilt can trigger the urge to damage one’s body. Often people self-harm only a few times and eventually stop afterward. But for many, self-harm may be a long-term and repetitive behavior and it also becomes a kind of an addiction.
Common causes of Self-harm
A person might harm themselves due to underlying conditions such as stress or anxiety. It might also be due to low emotional capacity and poor skills to cope with daily life issue. One of the prominent causes of self-harm is loneliness, which gives rise to panic, anger, and self-hatred.
Being confused with one’s sexuality and rejection also result in self-harming behavior, and can also lead to other mental health problems and addiction. Childhood trauma is another condition that lowers the self-esteem of a person, thus leading to shame and difficulty in managing emotional pain. All this ultimately leads to self-harm.
Recommended treatments for Self-Harm
A mental health professional can help not only for self-harm but also for other mental health disorders that may be related to self-harm, such as depression, personality disorders, and anxiety disorders. If there’s another underlying cause of this problem, the evaluation may include additional tools, such as questionnaires and psychological tests.
Treatment is based on specific issues and any related mental health disorders people might have, such as depression. Because self-harm may become a major and a crucial part of someone's life, it's best to get treatment from a mental health professional experienced in self-harm issues or problems.
If the self-harming behavior is associated with a mental health disorder, such as depression, borderline personality disorder, and panic disorder, the treatment plan emphasizes not only on that disorder but also on self-harming behaviour.
Treating self-injury behaviour takes time, hard work, and one's own desire to recover from the emotional pain. There are a few optional treatment approaches and strategies that can be used to cope with self-harm.
Also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, psychotherapy can help you identify and manage underlying issues that trigger self-injuring behavior and teach you skills to better manage distress. It helps you to regulate your emotions, boosts your self-image, improves your relationships and social skills, and teaches you healthy problem-solving skills.
Several types of individual psychotherapy include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness-based Therapies, Family Therapy, and Group Therapy, which may be helpful in overcoming self-harm.
There are no specific medicines that can treat self-harming behavior. However, if someone is diagnosed with a mental health disorder, such as depression or an anxiety disorder, the doctor may recommend antidepressants or other medications to treat the underlying disorder that's related to self-harm. Treatment for these disorders is likely to help people stop harming themselves.
If people hurt themselves frequently and severely, their doctor may recommend a psychiatric care or a hospital for admission. Hospitalization, mainly used for the short term, may provide a safe environment and more-intensive treatment until people overcome a problem.
Besides professional treatment, some important self-care tips include following your treatment plan and taking medicine at their proper time. Recognizing and understanding the situations and feelings that trigger the desire to self-harm is essential, which also helps you make a plan for different ways to calm and distract yourself so that you’re ready the next time you feel the urge to harm yourself.
If you’re self-harming, you should ask for help: confide in a trusted family member or a therapist, who will help you cope with this injurious behaviour. Exercising, dancing, writing, sketching, painting, running, and talking to your best friends also rid you of the desire to self-harm and push you towards doing something positive and remove negative thoughts from your mind. Taking a hot shower or bath also soothes your feelings whenever you’re feeling down. Finally, you need to avoid alcohol and other drugs to overcome this unhealthy behaviour.
Self-harm can be prevented easily by taking care of yourself and talking to your family or a professional therapist. It's easier to overcome the overwhelming urge to harm one's self by using some of the techniques discussed above.
Further Readings on Self-Harm
About Expat Therapy 4U
Expat Therapy 4U is the result of 5 years’ experience running The International Psychology Clinic, the first private therapy service based in London specialized in multilingual and multicultural therapy.
The platform is run by Dr Martina Paglia. Dr Martina is a leading dual qualified Clinical and Counselling psychologist who helps patients by providing bespoke psychological services including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Counselling and Psychotherapy in London and online worldwide.
Our network comprises highly qualified and experienced private therapists who have made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of expats worldwide. All members of our community are highly experienced working in cross-cultural environments.
We are passionate about delivering first-class patient-centred, safe and effective care. If you would like to work with a warm, inclusive, caring and professional English-speaking therapist in Europe or online worldwide you have come to the right place.
If you are looking for the perfect expat Therapist in Europe or online worldwide, our team is dedicated to help you find your best match. We offer a client guarantee where clients can re-book with a different therapist if they are not satisfied with their first therapy session.
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