Self-harm includes cutting, poisoning, pulling out hair, and keeping open wounds from healing. People who self-harm aren't necessarily suicidal, but they may have suicidal tendencies. People tend to use self-harm as a method of coping. The physical pain can help to relieve their mental pain from things like stress, anxiety, or depressive episodes. Self-harming behavior may help the person to feel better for a while, but eventually they have to start hurting themselves more frequently and more severely in order to get the same release. People who want to end self-harming behaviors generally need help from therapy and supportive therapists in order to get past it. One kind of therapy that has had good results is dialectical behavior therapy.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
DBT is part of a talk therapy technique called cognitive behavior therapy. The DBT technique was developed specifically to help people who are self-injurious, have repeated suicidal attempts, or have borderline personality disorder. In addition, people who have several co-morbidities can also benefit from DBT.
Dialectical behavioral therapy includes having multiple therapy appointments a week. It also involves working with a number of mental health professionals. Therapy appointments include having a group session and an individual appointment. During those appointments, the patient will learn a number of skills that can help them deal with their actions, behaviors, and thoughts.
Patients can also take advantage of therapy sessions by phone. Those sessions can be used during a crisis situation and can help the patient get through a period of extreme distress when they feel the temporary need to hurt themselves.
Mindfulness is the biggest skill taught in DBT. It is the basis upon which all other coping skills are built. In the case of dialectical behavior therapy, mindfulness is defined as learning to accept and handle the strong emotions that a person is experiencing. Learning to identify the emotions is the first step in the process. Once a person can put a name to what they are feeling, they can start to accept that emotion and learn how to handle it without the need to hurt themselves or act out in another way.
DBT has a proven track record in helping people to recover from self-injurious behavior and chronic suicidal ideation. It takes some work on the part of the patient, but it can give them emotional tools to handle anything that may come up in their later life. For more information on this and other therapy techniques, contact a professional like those at Comprehensive Behavioral Health Associates Inc.