Pyschologists Helping With Cutting And Self-Harm

Have you ever felt wrapped up in your own pain so much that you could't find a way out? ...Where any distraction was better than experiencing the unanswerable pain you felt inside?  Cutting and other means of releasing pain makes more sense for some of us than we can explain. In the very moment we shift our focus onto our physical pain our psychological suffering seems to halt.

Some of us feel a release of tension, others a sense of control, while still for others its a way to fill the emptiness inside or to express the hatred we have for our lives. We don't always know why we cut or harm ourselves, but it becomes our ally and we feel a necessarily closeness to it.

We may have learned to cut because we heard about it at school or read about someone who tried it, but we often will hide it from others. We may have been warned about its dangers, but felt drawn to it anyway. The magic of cutting is that its a powerful way to escape, but the problem is that doesn't last a longtime. It gives us a sense of identity and a connection to our pain, a way of secretly expressing ourselves, but it doesn't prevent the old hurts and confusion from coming back.

In fact, Cutting usually doesn't actually make any of our feelings go away or even lessen, for that matter. Although we may feel empowered having a secret method to handle our suffering we are also left with the initial pain that caused it as well as the scars and physical damage to our bodies that we really don't want to live with forever.

So what do we do? What choices do we have? Talking. Maybe not with our parents or our school counselor unless we think they'll understand. We might try a friend who will be sympathetic or someone that we don't think will panic and try to make us stop. It could be someone new, who's unbiased and caring, someone who will hold our confidence and really help us become empowered to identify and heal the roots of our pain.

If you cut or harm yourself, no matter what anyone says, you are not crazy for having the feelings you have, nor wrong for finding a way to handle them. At GoVa Counseling we know that better than anyone. We want you to feel safe and supported to explore only the feelings you're ready to talk about and only at the pace you set. Our goal is to be dedicated to you and only to you. We're not here to force you to do anything you don't want to do or make you feel wrong about yourself. We're here to help you discover what's wrong and find a way to heal it in the way that's just right for you. At GoVa Counseling we're here for you and we understand.

                How Best to Help Someone You Love?
What do you do if you think someone's cutting or engaged in self-harm and you want to help? Here are a few guidelines (you can tell someone to read this if you don't think they'll be a good listener):
Parents & Friends-
  • Don't freak out. Panicking or getting emotional is NOT going to help. So avoid making critical comments, giving ultimatums or punishments to stop. Don't act grossed out, be judgmental or blaming no matter what.
  • Don't cry and start asking the person if they want to kill themselves - 99% of the time, they don't, but being dramatic will only make things worse.
  • Don't say they're just looking for attention. They're not. People who cut are hurting deeply inside and they're not doing it for any other purpose than because they're in pain, even if you don't know why. Don't minimize what they're going through just because you don't understand or know why.
  • Put aside your own concerns and learn to listen. If all you do is give support for someone's bravery to come to you, that's a great step forward for you both. So be calm. Take the time to listen to their feelings and whatever they're ready to share. If they're not ready to talk, be Ok with that. A first step is a first step. And every step counts.
  • Help them find someone to talk to that can help them. Someone they're comfortable with. Everyone needs that. If nothing else come in yourself! We can help you get started on what to do.
  • Be prepared to handle difficult issues that may include you and your family. They may be things that are hard to hear, things you never knew about, or things you thought were "in the past".
  • Even if you think someone is cutting, but they aren't admitting it, don't force them to confess or stop. Simply tell them you care and help them feel Ok to talk to someone who's ready to help.
  • If you're the one cutting, be ready for people's reactions because they may not be as good at handling things as you'd like. That may be obvious, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't talk to someone. If you're not sure who to talk to, give us a call! 
We're ready and we're here to help!