Self-harm, also known as self-injury, means hurting yourself on purpose. While cutting (using a sharp object to pierce your skin) is the most common form of self-harm many other forms exist, including burning, scratching or hitting body parts. Self-harm often first manifests itself in adolescence or young adulthood and is typically used as a way to cope with emotional pain. Individuals who have experienced trauma, neglect or abuse are particularly susceptible to self-harming behaviors. Self-harm can be a passing phase, but it is sometimes a symptom of a more serious psychiatric problem, like anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, so it is important to take it seriously. Whether you, or a child in your care, has recently started hurting yourself or you’ve been doing it for a while, there is help available! Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s self-harm experts today.

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When a person becomes overwhelmed and distressed, they may look to various avenues of relief to reduce their uncomfortable feelings, including self-harm. Self harming behaviors can be seen as a coping skill that a person acquires when they do not have other tools in their toolbox to navigate the challenges they may face. When working to address self harm, the main focus of treatment is finding new coping skills that encourage healing and help keep a person safe when facing distress.

— Kristina Altomari, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Boston, MA

Whether through cutting, hitting, or using a "good" behavior to the point of hurting ones self, many people will try to soothe distressing emotions or thoughts by hurting themself, usually beginning in their teen years. In session, we will talk through the purpose of the behavior, what it "gives", and find safer alternatives to achieve the same goals, while also working through the pain which led to the self-harm in the first place.

— Elizabeth Bolton, Licensed Professional Counselor in Cypress, TX

I work with teenagers and adults who use all sorts of behaviors to try to feel better, even when they know those behaviors are hurtful to themselves or others, or aren't in line with their values. I have worked with self-harm, thoughts of suicide, and emotional dysregulation in inpatient and outpatient settings. I rely on behavioral and emotional strategies to help you understand why you're using these behaviors and what to do instead.

— Tricia Mihal, Clinical Social Worker in Austin, TX

Building skills and supports to cope with emotional pain, suffering, and numbness; increasing positive meaningful life experiences

— Hannah Brooks, Social Worker in New York, NY

I utilize DBT as a therapeutic method for BPD traits and characteristics of SH. I utilize diary cards and other DBT tools to help build insight into the behavior and work to identify healthy coping skills for intense emotions. I am foundationally trained in DBT through the Linehan Institute.

— Essence Fiddemon, Counselor in Atlanta, Ga, GA

I have worked with self injury for over 15 years and also provide trainings and workshops on the topic for clinicians, parents and schools. I use a harm reduction approach, and help people to explore the meaning and purpose of their self injury as they learn instead to find words for their pain.

— Kirsti Reeve, Licensed Professional Counselor in Ferndale, MI

As a DBT therapist who has worked at hospitals and residential treatment centers, I have significant training and experience working with folks with chronic suicidality and nonsuicidial self-injury. My goal, ideally at an outpatient level, is to help people understand the function of self-harm and to learn other strategies for distress tolerance and emotion regulation. Over time, we tend to see a reduction in the frequency of self-harming urges and behaviors.

— Stacey Rosenfeld, Psychologist in Coral Gables, FL

An area of interest for me, working with adults and adolescents to learn replacement behaviors. Some additional training in this area.

— Elizabeth Fulsher, Clinical Social Worker in Vancouver, WA

Contrary to what the media portrays, self-harm is NOT for attention. Self-harm is a coping strategy used by people who are hurting, feel misunderstood, or feel they don't have any other way to express their emotions. Let me help you first find safe replacement strategies, then help you conquer the situations that brought you to self-harm in the first place.

— Kasey Wiggam, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Indianapolis, IN

I understand that there is a difference between self-harm and suicidal behavior and have experience helping people learn adaptive coping strategies.

— Debbie Duquette, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Madison, AL

I have experience working with clients with a wide range of self harm experiences. I will not judge your experience and offer a safe and healing space to process self harm behaviors.

— Mallory Striesfeld - Healing Pathways of Houston, Licensed Professional Counselor in Houston, TX

I have 8 years of experience working with individuals that have significant urges to harm themselves or are experiencing suicidal ideation. I think that recognition, honesty, openness, and having a supportive ally, are really important steps in beginning the path of challenging self harm urges and actions.

— Sam Anderson, Clinical Social Worker in Golden Valley, MN