Most of the clients who I have seen for Self Harm have been teenagers, however, some adults also self harm. From my experience of working with these clients, Self Harm is used for a number of reasons.
Why does someone harm, cut, hit or hurt themself on purpose?
When a person feels overwhelmed with a flood of emotions they cannot process or cope with, Self Harm (usually cutting discreetly, however, it can be hair pulling, bruising, poking, inserting needles) is used as a way of 'coping'. The person who self harms can often feel some relief at seeing/feeling pain externally, when they have an overwhelming amount of ;'hidden' pain inside.
Can self harming become addictive?
Yes. This person can also get a neurochemical reward, such as endorphins, from the cut which can become behaviourally and chemically addictive. In addition to this, as this issue is frequently seen in the teenage community, and as teenagers developmentally need to 'fit in with their peers', mimicking behaviour can occur easily. This method of coping with complex emotions seems to be increasing. This is very sad, considering it can leave scars, horify parents and loved ones, and in some cases, self harm can end in serious injury or death. Without professional help, self harm can become addictive, as it is behavioural, chemical, and stems from a sense of escapism... It can also become compulsive.
How can counselling help someone recover from Self Harming?
I use my Crisis Wheel / Life Balance Wheel, and the Passionate Life Program, and some of my addiction program to help clients recover. The most important area is to help the client process and cope with their emotions more. They often have suppressed anger and grief, so grief therapy or anger management, and almost in every situation, normalization of huge emotional reactions, is needed. I use the 3 X W's TOOL from my 2nd book to increase the client's ability to recognise and cope with their overwhelming emotions.
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