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You Can Stop Harming Yourself: Effective Treatment for Self-harm

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If you have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), you may feel that the only way to release your emotions is through engaging in self-harm. You may be self-harming by cutting, burning, or bruising your own body – and you may believe that this behavior will never stop.

But in addition to treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder, you can also seek treatment for self-harm so that you stop hurting yourself and learn more productive ways to cope with and express your emotions. There are plenty of options when it comes to treating your self-harming behaviors.

Understanding the Cause of Self-harm

Nobody actually wants to hurt themselves. In fact, we are biologically encoded to defend ourselves against injury. So what could lead you to hurt yourself?

One of the main components to treating self-harming habits is understanding the function of self-injury. If you hurt yourself, you are likely trying to avoid experiencing an even greater pain – usually an emotional pain. By inflicting physical pain upon yourself, you feel as though you can control your negative emotions to a certain degree.

Cognitive Behavioral Approach to Self-harm Treatment

Avoiding negative feelings and resorting to self-injury is often a process that takes place below your level of consciousness. With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), you can learn to recognize patterns in your behavior and what triggers episodes of self-harm.

For example, perhaps every time you have an uncomfortable interaction with a particular person (such as your mother or your ex-boyfriend or -girlfriend), you find yourself hurting your body. Or, whenever you begin to think of a goal or dream you haven’t reached, you might find that hurting yourself is a ready way to ease the emotional pain.

Once you have figured out what triggers your self-harming behavior, you can start intervening in the process using CBT.

Therapies to Treat Self-harm

Because self-harm may be the result of varying issues, such as depression and Borderline Personality Disorder, different types of therapy may work in different cases.

For example, if childhood experiences are the cause of your self-harm, psychodynamic therapy might help. On the other hand, if you have poor coping skills for all negative emotions, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) will teach you needed strategies to effectively work through emotional pain.

Art therapy is another effective treatment for self-harm. In 2009, the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), a division of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), put together the GlassBook Project. In this project, people who were recovering from self-injury manufactured artwork from glass that exemplified their struggle with the condition.

While this project was very therapeutic for the participants, allowing them to express themselves through a tangible material that mirrored their own fragile state, it also opened up a discussion about self-harm to people who don’t know as much about it. Because self-injury carries a stigma, word about self-harm treatment options are not often discussed in public. Nonetheless, there is a thriving community of people who have healed from self-harming behaviors and found solace and consolation in creating artwork.

Commit to Treating Your Self-harming Behaviors

Although there are several options for you to choose from when it comes to treating your self-harm, psychologists are always looking for new and better ways to make the recovery from self-injury quicker and more thorough. If you are committed to confronting the negative feelings that you’ve been avoiding so that your body and mind can stay healthy, you can get the help you need to stop hurting yourself.

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