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

The shame you hold and carry with you can be overwhelming. I encourage you to find a trusted person you can talk to about this secret and welcome your visit if you want me to be that person to confide in.

— Christine Lillja, Psychologist in Laguna Hills, CA

One of the most meaningful experiences that I have had as a therapist is meeting a number of clients who have felt in such a dark place as to turn to self-harm or to to experience such a level of self-hate as to want to hurt themselves----and being a part of those client's healing. If interested in improving your relationship with yourself or being able to understand why you self-harm to feel better and no longer need it, we can begin therapy using strategies of DBT and self-compassion.

— Jennifer Gerlach, Therapist in Swansea, IL

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

One of the most meaningful pieces of the work I do is helping people improve their relationships with themselves. I have experience implementing DBT-informed therapy and compassion-focused therapies to help clients manage self-harm and related challenges. Through this, we can help you understand what leads to self-harm and get you to a place of not feeling a need to have to resort to harming yourself to feel okay.

— Jennifer Gerlach, Therapist in Swansea, IL

I understand that there is a difference between self-harm and suicidal behavior.

— Debbie Duquette, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Huntsville, AL

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

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, Counselor in Rochester Hills, MI

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