Sonia Herbert

Psychotherapy and Counselling

Self-injury – self-harm

What is it?

Self-injury is a coping mechanism. An individual harms their physical self to deal with emotional pain, or to break feelings of numbness by arousing sensation.

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Self-harm is primarily a coping strategy and can provide a release from emotional distress and enable an individual to regain feelings of control. Self-harm can be a form of self-punishment for feelings of guilt. It can also be a way to physically express feelings and emotions when individuals struggle to communicate with others. It is therefore important that individuals that self-harm are able to express these feelings, thoughts and emotions in other ways whenever possible. It can be difficult to share the reasons behind the self-harm with others and to gain the help and support that may be needed.

In the majority of cases self-harm is a very private act and individuals can go to great lengths to hide scars and bruises and will often try to address physical injuries themselves rather than seek medical treatment. Whilst some individuals who self-harm may have suicidal feelings, those feelings are likely to originate from the experiences and traumas behind their self-harm rather than being influenced by self-harm itself.

You can, get more help and information about self-injury from 
or National self-harm network


There are a number of common misconceptions surrounding self-harm.

Self-harm is attempted suicide
All people who self-harm are suicidal

People often associate self-harm with attempted suicide; however this is rarely the case. People suffering emotional distress may feel suicidal but as self-harm is a coping mechanism its function is predominantly to prevent suicide rather than being a suicide attempt.

Attention seeking

Self-harm is often seen as a cry for help, a ploy to gain attention or as manipulation. However more often than not self-harm is a very private and hidden behaviour that does not involve anyone else. Some people will take great care in hiding their injuries and scars through shame, embarrassment or fear. They may conceal injuries under clothing, jewellery or make up excuses and explanations. A large number of people who self-harm treat their wounds themselves at home rather than seeking medical help. Other individuals who do let people know about their self-harm may do this as they have no other way to communicate how they are feeling. Self-harm for these individuals may be a cry for help. If someone goes to these extremes it is clear that they are in distress.

The more serious the injury, the more serious the problem

It is important to take all injuries seriously as the nature of the wound does not represent the extent of the anguish being experienced.

Self-harm is the problem, if we stop this then the person will be fine

Self-harm is rarely the problem, but a solution until other issues are resolved. It is the reasons that lay behind individuals self-harm that need to be addressed in order to aid a recovery from self-harm.     

Please contact me on t: 07886 513 448 or e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out how psychotherapy can help.                                   


Confidential Counselling and Psychotherapy in Bewdley | Worcestershire

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