I realise that we do not always have the words to effectively express how we are hurting on the inside, or that we may not have someone we can trust to share our pain with. I realise that some of us may not have been taught how to express our feelings, or may have had our feelings invalidated, so we take it out on ourselves. In some cases, we have the desire to feel, and when we can't, we look to making ourselves feel through physical pain. If you are seeking support for self-harming behaviours you may wish to see me for treatment from a harm reduction approach.
What is self-harm?
Self-harm is the act of intentionally inflicting harm towards oneself, and the behaviours that model self-harm come in many different forms. While individuals tend to engage in self-harming behaviours to cope with difficult feelings, the motivation behind these acts can vary, ranging from an attempt to communicate one's pain to a desire to feel something - anything - particularly for those who feel numb otherwise.
While self-harming behaviours may offer short-term gratification, they often come with them long-term consequences including, but not limited to, grievous bodily harm, severe psychological damage, and accidental death. For these reasons, it is important to seek help if either you or someone you know is engaging in self-harming behaviours.
What is harm reduction?
Harm reduction is an effective, non-judgmental treatment approach for any risk behaviour including self-harm.
Harm reduction (also known as harm minimisation) aims to reduce the harms and negative consequences associated with risk behaviours, such as health factors, relationship breakdowns, and in the case of self-harming behaviours, accidental death so you may lead a richer and healthier life.
How can you help me?
I understand that we may feel vulnerable to come out and ask for support when we are struggling with overwhelming thoughts and feelings. This is why I focus on building trust within the therapeutic relationship created with clients. Without this trust, it can be challenging for any effective change to take place.
In a non-judgmental, non-coercive environment, you co-create a treament plan that is best suited for your goals. I also offer a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) skills program to individuals - a mindfulness-based therapy that is designed to treat self-destructive behaviours and is most effective in conjunction with individual therapy. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Ego State Therapy, and Animal Assisted Psychotherapy (AAP) are other effective treatment approaches that may be integrated into a therapeutic framework that is tailored uniquely for every individual. I meet you at whatever stage of change you are at and collaborate with you to make effective and realistic goals that meet your individualised needs.
Mindfulness exercise for strong emotional urges: "Urge surfing"
Some urges are too strong to ignore. If this happens, you can choose to stay with the urge until it passes. Like waves, urges start small, grow to a peak, and then subside. There are three basic steps that involve some mindfulness techniques:
Take an inventory of how you experience the craving. Sit in a comfortable chair with your feel flat on the floor and your hands in a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths and focus your attention inward. Allow your attention to wander through your body. Notice where in your body you experience the craving and what the sensations are like. Notice each area where you experience the craving and tell yourself what you are expecting.
Focus on one area where you are experiencing the urge. Notice the sensations in that area, for example, heat, cold, tingling, numbness. Are your muscles tense or relaxed? Notice the sensations and describe them to yourself, e.g. “…my mouth feels dry and parched, there’s tension in my neck. I keep swallowing.”
Repeat the focus on each part of your body that experiences the craving. Notice how the urge comes and goes. Many people notice that after a few minutes the craving has vanished. The purpose of this exercise, however, is not to make the craving go away but to experience the craving in a new way. If you practice, you will become familiar with your cravings and learn how to ride them out until they go away naturally.