“Self-Harm as a coping strategy does work for many people and they would say it reduces stress, but only for a short time. Often shame and embarrassment follow the act of self-injurious behavior and this can increase stress levels, so self-harm could be described as a maladaptive coping skill. In the long run it is not helping the person to solve and master their problems; it is becoming one of the problems.” – Theresa Larsen, coordinator of a mental health awareness program for youth.
Cutting, burning, or even hitting oneself are some of the forms of self-harm that have been around from centuries ago and up until today. There are many explanations to why people do this. The most common would be because of emotional stress and pressure. With such tension building up, resorting to these methods somehow relieve numbs away the pain.
“Self-harming behavior may look like a form of self-punishment. It may be, but it also serves as a mechanism for emotional self-regulation for those with unresolved trauma.” – Robyn Brickel, MA, LMFT.
What Constitutes Self-Harm?
Self-Harm is most common among teens and young adults. Adults and children, on the other hand, are less likely to do such harm to themselves. Adolescence has a significant role in the rise of these tendencies since it is during this stage that most teens undergo a lot of emotional changes.
Common examples of self-harm and poor self-care, according to Darius Cikanavicius, Author, Certified Coach:
Eating problems. E.g., anorexia, bulimia, overeating, undereating, binge eating.
Self-mutilation. E.g., cutting, hair pulling, self-scratching.
Avoiding medical care.
Not resting well. E.g., poor sleep regimen, working too much, over-exercising.
Putting yourself in danger. E.g., driving without your seatbelt on, unprotected sex.
Unrealistic, self-attacking beliefs. E.g, “I can’t do anything right,” “I’m a rotten human being.”
Effects Of Self-Harm In A Relationship
Connecting with family and friends contribute significantly in alleviating the cause of self-harm. People who are experiencing such distress seek the support of their family, friends, and even their partners to help them cope up with the pain. Certainly, self-harm brings about different effects between people in a relationship.
People inflicting self-injury often try to hide their wounds from their partner at first thinking that their partner would never understand. However, for people in a relationship, no secrets can go undiscovered.
In time, their partner will eventually know they are indeed in pain. Once they discover such activities, the partner would be confronted with two choices: one being that they try to make sure that their partner would never do it again since it also hurts them seeing their partner injure themselves. The other choice is that they accept their partner for who they are. They can try to understand that they are going through difficulties through which self-harm is resorted to lessen the pain.
How Can Counseling Help Address Self-Harm?
In the end, couples engaging in self-harming behavior may realize that pro-active listening could help, but it is never enough to solve the problem entirely. It is where specialized counseling and online therapy comes to play.
Self-harm is almost always confidentially done since one does not want to be judged or labeled as “just seeking attention.” However, with counseling, one can be assured of a secure environment where one can freely express themselves and talk about their feelings.
Different kinds of therapy also provide relief to the patient since it goes through the deep-rooted issues that remained unresolved and will try to mend those issues. Online therapy is also gaining attention as a viable option for those who want access to counseling at the comfort of their homes.
Being in a relationship with someone who self-harms is not an easy relationship. Much understanding on both sides should be eminent for the relationship to succeed. The partner must seek out what is best for his or her troubled partner, and that best may be to seek advice from other people in who are professional in this field.
Counseling provides both an avenue for one to release this emotional burden and route to recovery. Hugs and kisses may be a quick remedy, but counseling and therapy can set a permanent solution.