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Treatment for Self-Harm

Self-harm can be a way of coping with problems. It may help a woman express feelings she can't put into words, distract her from her life, or release emotional pain. Afterwards, she'll probably feel better — at least for a little while. But then the painful feelings return, and she feels the urge to hurt herself again.

Remember that you deserve to feel better. It's possible to live a rich and creative life.

Understanding self-harm

Self-harm is a way of expressing and dealing with deep distress and emotional pain. A woman who hurts herself makes her feel better. In fact, she sometimes may feels like she has no choice. Injuring herself is the only way she knows how to cope with feelings of sadness, self-loathing, emptiness, guilt, and rage.

People who self-harm try to keep what they're doing secret. They feel ashamed and feel as if no one would understand. The secrecy and guilt affects. Ultimately, the secrecy and guilt affects your relationships with your friends and family members and the way you feel about yourself. Secrecy and guilt make you feel even more lonely, worthless, and trapped.

What Is Self-Harm?

Self-harm includes anything you do to intentionally injure yourself. Some of the more common ways include:

  • cutting or severely scratching your skin
  • burning or scalding yourself
  • hitting yourself or banging your head
  • punching things or throwing your body against walls and hard objects
  • sticking objects into your skin
  • intentionally preventing wounds from healing
  • swallowing poisonous substances or inappropriate objects

Self-harm can also include less obvious ways of hurting yourself or putting yourself in danger, such as driving recklessly, binge drinking, taking too many drugs, and having unsafe sex. Self-harm helps women and girls to:

  • Express feelings they can't put into words
  • Release the pain and tension they feel inside
  • Helping them feel in control
  • Distracting them from overwhelming emotions or difficult life circumstances
  • Relieving guilt and punishing themselves
  • Making them feel alive, or simply feel something, instead of feeling numb

Mirasol Focuses on the Underlying Emotions behind Self-harm

Any difficult experience can cause someone to self-harm. Common causes include:

  • pressures at school or work
  • bullying
  • money worries
  • sexual, physical or emotional abuse
  • bereavement
  • confusion about your sexuality
  • breakdown of relationships
  • an illness or health problem
  • difficult feelings, such as depression, anxiety, anger or numbness, experienced as part of a mental health problem

Our residents find that by focusing on their emotions, they'll begin to become more mindful of their feelings.

What Kind of Treatment is Effective for Self-Harm?

An integrative, holistic treatment center such as Mirasol, helps women become at ease with themselves and heal from the need to self-harm.

They learn to manage overwhelming stress and emotions. Residents learn other ways of getting their needs met rather than having to do something harmful to themselves.

They learn to identify their self-harm triggers. What feelings make them want to cut or hurt themselves? Once they learn to recognize the feelings that trigger their needs to self-injure, they can start developing healthier alternatives.

They learn to get in touch with their feelings. If residents are having a hard time pinpointing the feelings that trigger their urge to cut or self-harm, they may need to work on their emotional awareness. Emotional awareness means knowing what you are feeling and why. It's the ability to identify and express what you are feeling from moment to moment and to understand the connection between your feelings and your actions.

They learn new coping techniques so they can respond differently when the same feelings come up.

The mood disorders program treats every aspect of the person: nutritionally, sexually, intellectually, spiritually, nutritionally, emotionally with the end result being a woman or girl who is in balance. Each client receives instruction in key areas of interpersonal skills, distress tolerance and management, and emotional regulation skills. DBT is the treatment of choice for this kind of emotional regulation.

How Do Treatment Plans Address Self-harm with Co-occurring Conditions?

Self-harm frequently is accompanied by other co-occurring conditions such as an eating disorder, severe depression, or other psychiatric conditions. These women face special challenges where they need individualized treatment and care.

Treatment planning considers all of the information that Mirasol has been able to gather concerning a client. We utilize the expertise of all of our experienced treatment staff in customizing the ideal treatment plan for the individual.

FREE Eating Disorder Support Group!

FREE weekly eating disorder support group for adults struggling with food issues, staffed by therapists from Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Centers. Thursdays from 5:30-6:45 pm at 3116 N Swan in Tucson. For more information, call 520-546-3200 or email Ann at support@mirasol.net.

"Mirasol is light years ahead of any other program in the country."