Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cutting and self-harm

A sad sad subject, but as a PSR worker, more than likely you will have to talk about it eventually.

I had some awesome help with this post from one of my clients who was able to give some great alternatives that helped her when she was cutting herself.

We practiced some of these alternatives and then made a chain as a challenge.  The concept for this being to rip of a link of the chain when needed or everyday and practice the alternative.  

 The unique thing about some of these alternatives is that they are meant to replace cutting or self-harm by being a little more extreme or destructive (safely of course) to make your client feel more satisfied, not needing to hurt themselves. Other skills we listed were coping skills to feel better and can be used for anger, stress, depression, etc. 

Here are some examples:

-Write lyrics on your arm, then wash it off.
-Squeeze ice cubes
-Rip up magazines or paper
-Clap your hands until they sting
-Stomp/ jump up and down
-Write yourself a letter
-Paint your nails or do your make-up
-Watch a funny video
-Scribble out the faces in magazines
-Make yourself write three things you like about your life
-Put a rubber band on your wrist and snap it
-Learn to swear in another language
-Scream in your pillow
-Bite into a hot pepper
-Put band-aids, tape, or glue on your skin then peel it off

This is a difficult subject to bring up with your client, but being straight forward, practicing alternatives and helping them find stories and articles about others who have gone through the same thing can be helpful.


  1. This is excellent information - and some of these things are appropriate for adult cutters too! Thanks for being a teacher instead of a judge - for helping and healing instead of heaping on guilt!

  2. thank you... i'll use these

  3. Client's also use ice and salt as a burning form of self-harm, so using the ice hand squeezing technique may not be the best, but the others are great tools!

    1. Very great point, and something for the service provider to be aware of when teaching these alternatives! Thank you!

  4. make sure that the strategy is interrupting the emotional/pain connection vs. strengthening it. snapping a rubber band, ripping something off and clapping till it stings does not seem very healthy to me, as a professional.

    1. Absolutely--we understand what you are saying with these concerns. A professional must understand their client, the clients needs, and what strategies are appropriate for them to heal--that also includes knowing what is not appropriate for your client and their needs. Thank you for your feedback for our readers!

  5. Thank you very much