How to help a self-injurer

What can you do to help a friend or family member who is a self-injurer?

It is very hard to realize that someone you care about is physically harming herself or himself. Your concern may come out in frustration and even comments that can drive the person farther away. Some things that might be helpful are:

  • Understand that self-harming behavior is an attempt to maintain a certain amount of control, and that it is a way of self-soothing
  • Let her or him know that you care and that you will listen
  • Encourage expression of emotions, including anger
  • Spend time doing enjoyable activities together
  • Offer to help find a therapist or support group
  • Do not tell the person to stop the behavior or make judgmental comments – people who feel worthless and powerless are even more likely to self-injure

If you are the parent of a self-injuring child, prepare yourself to address your family’s difficulties with expression of feelings, as this is a common factor in self-injury – this is not about blame, but about a learning process that will help the entire family


The Breakthrough Healing Program for Self-Injurers

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