Self-harm is usually a reaction to an inability to properly cope with, or an attempt to mask emotional, mental, or psychological pain. People who self-harm usually cut, burn, or scratch themselves in places on the body that are easily covered or hidden, in order to keep the abuse a secret. Pulling out one’s hair and swallowing toxic or harmful substances are other forms of self-harm that are less well-known. These abuses are not normally life-threatening and are not meant to be a suicide attempt.
Some diagnoses that can accompany self-harm are:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Conduct Disorders
- Clinical Depression
- Bi-Polar Disorder
Symptoms & signs that someone is self-harming
- Inability to cope
- Extreme anxiety
- Feelings of extreme stress
- Emotional pain (say, following a break up or the loss of a loved one)
- Mood changes
- Unexplained cuts, scratches, or other marks on the body
- Regular excuses for cuts, scratches, or marks (for example, cat scratches)
- Scars (especially in patterns)
- Purposeful physical harm
- Wearing clothing that covers most of the body – even in warm weather
- Making sure sharp objects readily available
When is it time to get help?
If you are causing physical harm to yourself and are unable to stop, this is a problem that requires support. If you suspect that your child is self-injuring, it can be very alarming, but remember it is a reaction to another issue such as depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. The key is to discover why you or your child are self-harming.
Self-harming treatment methods
There are several therapeutic treatments available to those who self-harm. If the self-harm is found to be caused by another related disorder, then that must be treated as well. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best course of therapy. Effective treatment methods for anxiety and depressions include:
- Behaviour therapy tends to view human beings and behaviour with the assumption that humans are a product of their sociocultural conditioning and environment, looking at the current problems and the factors influencing them and emphasizes behaviour changes more than the underlying unconscious processes.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Person centered therapy differs from more traditional therapeutic approaches in the belief that, while the therapist has expertise in many areas, the client is the expert on themselves and their lived experiences. People are essentially trustworthy and have a vast potential for understanding themselves while also being able to ultimately resolve their own problems when guided properly.
- Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a treatment method that’s similar to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) but emphasizes building skills to manage stress, emotional response and regulation, mental health issues, and the psycho-social aspects of relationship building.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
We can work with you (or your child) to find healthier and more effective ways to cope with emotional pain. We can work with you to discover what is causing your need to self-harm and in doing so, treat the cause.
Insight has several therapists who specialize in anxiety, depression and self-harming. We can provide in-person, online or telephone counselling at one of our locations in Alberta. Contact us today.