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Self harm can take many forms: cutting, overeating, overexercising, to name a few.  It is a way of expressing emotional pain and distress which is unbearable.  For those who self harm, it can be a form of control over the body and often as a result of anger.

In counselling, it is important to do the following:

  • Be non judgemental and normalise it.
  • Keep in in the here-and-now (not the white elephant in the room).
  • Gentle exploration, accepting, empathising and keep it real to create a feeling of safety.
  • Allow autonomy.
  • Contain and be boundaries, using immediacy and challenge when appropriate.
  • Be aware of contract.
  • Suggesting coping strategies such as ice cubes instead, use of clean instruments, less times a day.
  • Take it to supervision.
  • Remember it prevents something worse such as suicide from happening.


The views here are the author’s and are intended for general guidance only