Self harm

//Self harm

Self harm

Stefanie Palmer

Oftentimes when individuals hear the words self-mutilation they imagine gruesome, bloody images of cuts, burns, bruises, and other markings.  Self-harm is a growing epidemic in the world today and in recent times has been considered “glamorized” by television shows, movies, and social media.  Self-harm can be self-inflicted cuts, burns, scratches, bruises, broken bones, refusing to take medications, refusing to eat, excessive eating, excessive alcohol or drug use, or anything else causing damage to oneself.

As a therapist I cringe at the word “cutter” used to describe someone who engages in non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors.  Someone’s behavior or way of coping does not define who they are as an individual.  When individuals engage in self-harming behavior there are a number of reasons they do so, including self-hatred, feeling numb, trauma, an inability to verbalize emotions, wanting to punish oneself, and yes, at times, as a “cry for help.”

As a clinician, I have helped hundreds of individuals who engage in non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors from childhood to adulthood, and I have treated both males and females.  I continue to educate myself on ways to help individuals who want to extinguish this behavior, and if there is ambivalence regarding ending the behavior, I work with clients to manage their urges and ensure they are safe if they choose to engage in the behavior (i.e. wound care, telling a trusted individual before or after, actively engaging in a safe coping skill before deciding to act on the urge in hopes of deterring the behavior).

Self-harming behaviors are not indicative of suicidality.  Can they coincide together, yes; however, one does not cause the other.  While talking about self-harm and suicidality may seem uncomfortable, what’s more uncomfortable is the potential for an act of self-harm going too far and not being able to process it afterward due to it being too late.  Do not be afraid to talk to your loved ones about self-injurious behaviors, one question could open a door of communication to change that behavior forever.

By |2019-04-17T13:46:38+00:00April 17th, 2019|Blog|0 Comments

About the Author:

Stefanie is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) who holds Master’s degrees in Forensic Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Stefanie specializes in working with adolescents and their families. She also enjoys working with children and young adults. Stefanie has provided counseling services through in-home-based programs, inpatient hospitalization as well as partial hospitalization treatment settings, in Wisconsin (and briefly Northern Illinois) over the last 8 years prior to joining Pathways Consulting in 2015.