Self-harm, also known as self-injury, means hurting yourself on purpose. While cutting (using a sharp object to pierce your skin) is the most common form of self-harm many other forms exist, including burning, scratching or hitting body parts. Self-harm often first manifests itself in adolescence or young adulthood and is typically used as a way to cope with emotional pain. Individuals who have experienced trauma, neglect or abuse are particularly susceptible to self-harming behaviors. Self-harm can be a passing phase, but it is sometimes a symptom of a more serious psychiatric problem, like anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, so it is important to take it seriously. Whether you, or a child in your care, has recently started hurting yourself or you’ve been doing it for a while, there is help available! Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s self-harm experts today.

Meet the specialists

I have experience working with clients with a wide range of self harm experiences. I will not judge your experience and offer a safe and healing space to process self harm behaviors.

— Mallory Striesfeld, Licensed Professional Counselor in Houston, TX

I have worked with self injury for over 15 years and also provide trainings and workshops on the topic for clinicians, parents and schools. I use a harm reduction approach, and help people to explore the meaning and purpose of their self injury as they learn instead to find words for their pain.

— Kirsti Reeve, Licensed Professional Counselor in Royal Oak, MI

Intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy through Behavioral Tech

— Kate Horsch, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Self-injury, like many addictive behaviors, can take complete control of the person if left untreated. It can impact self-esteem, relationships, day to day functioning, and lead to more serious or life threatening behaviors as people habituate and need more of the drug. There are various functions that self-injury can serve for people based on level of overwhelm, and uncovering the "why" someone is engaged in these behaviors is one of the crucial steps needed to live fully and harm-free.

— Kim Johancen, Therapist in Centennial, CO

Self-harm is often thought of behaviors to "get attention" or something that "teens" do. Self-harm is often used as a short-term solution to difficult emotions/experiences. I understand that it works. I often find that with self-harm comes shame and hiding. Learning skills that are effective to manage the distress you experience and ones that do not result in you harming yourself to feel better is possible. You do not have to hurt yourself to be okay.

— Chantal Wilson, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Diego, CA

Using Cognitive behavioral Therapy (CBT), I am able to guide you to healthier coping mechanisms.

— Darcy Barillas, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor

I have worked with individuals struggling with self-harm since 2010. Specialized training in DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), which is the treatment of choice for Borderline Personality Disorder, as well as those who struggle with intense emotions and self-harm.

— Ashley Strang, Psychologist in Grand Rapids, MI

While some providers may run away from this problem, I run towards treating it! One of the best things I get to experience as a professional is when I get to teach someone how to reduce self-harming behaviors and get their needs met in a healthier way. I have years of experience treating this behavior with successful resolution of self-harming behaviors. There is a reason for self-harming and when we can discover why, we can discover what to do instead.

— Michelle Fortier, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Tallahassee, FL

Self-harm/self-injurious behaviors (SIB) are common among children and youth who have been exposed to Trauma (typically moderate/superficial types of direct SIB: cutting, burning, hair pulling, and scarification). SIB can be seen as a maladaptive form of self regulation and may represent a child or youth’s attempt to to modulate overwhelming emotional experiences and symptoms of PTSD. In my work, I've seen how Creative, Somatic, and Equine Therapies can effectively guide youth away from SIB.

— Rory Valentine Diller, M.A., Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Orinda, CA

Someone might self-harm for a variety of reasons, but ultimately, self-harm is a person's way of expressing that something is wrong and they need help. So long as self-harm is not putting a person's life in danger, I approach the issue with compassion and non-judgment while we explore alternate methods to handle the feelings that drive the behavior.

— Catherine Humenuk, Clinical Social Worker in The Colony,

You will have access to 24/7 hour phone coaching with me when you have urges for self harm. I will teach you ways to regulate such urges and find better coping strategies to fulfill your needs.

— Ann Guzman, Counselor in Peachtree Corners, GA

Self-Harm is a symptom of a deep pain from within us that we're just trying to escape in some way or another. I personally believe that self harm can be its own kind of addiction. Much like with substance abuse, in order to address it, I like to create immediate de-escalation and harm reduction techniques, and then move inward to address the underlying cause.

— Victoria Pentecost, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Conroe, TX

I have extensive experience working with individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, conduct disorders, juvenile delinquency, eating disorders, self injury, ADHD and substance abuse.

— Antonia "Tanya" Katsaros, Counselor in Hoffman Estates, IL

Self harm is in my opinion misunderstood. A client that is using self harm doesn't have the appropriate tools to manage distressing emotions. Clients that self harm are in an extreme amount of pain, and they take the pain out on themselves to feel better. Learning healthy and appropriate ways to tolerate, and work their way out of this addictive pattern of self abuse takes time, patience, and love.

— Bethany Juran, Licensed Professional Counselor in Lincolnshire, IL