How to Help Someone Who Self-Harms?

It can be hard to know how to support someone who is struggling with self-harm. Self-harm is a serious issue affecting people of all ages, backgrounds, and genders, and it’s important that those struggling with it get the help they need. It can include activities such as cutting, burning, scratching, and more. You may feel overwhelmed by the situation as a loved one or friend.

While it is important for loved ones to support the individual in their journey toward healing, it is equally important that they do not enable or reinforce the behaviour itself. It’s understandable that you want to help, but it can be difficult to know where to start. In this blog post, we will discuss how to help someone who self-harms in a safe and effective way. 

Listen Without Judgment 

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It’s important that you take the time to listen to your loved one without judgment. Let them know that you are there for them no matter what and that you won’t judge them for their feelings or actions. This will make them feel more comfortable talking about their struggles and it will give them a sense of safety and security when they open up about what they are going through. Showing empathy and understanding is key here. 

Understand That It Is Not About Attention-Seeking Behavior 

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It is important for people close to an individual engaging in self-harm to understand that it isn’t about attention-seeking behaviour, but rather a way of coping with difficult emotions. The goal should not be necessarily to stop the behaviour immediately, but rather to understand why it exists and help the person find healthier ways to cope with distressful emotions. 

Encourage Professional Support 

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Self-harm is a serious issue and professional support should always be sought out in order to ensure that your loved one gets the help they need. Encourage your loved one to reach out for professional help from a therapist or mental health professional who can provide guidance and support throughout this difficult process.

Reassure your loved one that seeking professional help does not mean that things have gotten too far gone; rather, it means getting the necessary care and support needed for recovery. 

Allow Them To Express Themselves Openly

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The most important thing you can do for someone engaging in self-harm is validated their feelings and allow them to express themselves openly without judgment or criticism. This means actively listening and allowing them space where they feel comfortable talking about what they are going through without fear of being judged or dismissed. This will help build trust between both parties and make it easier for them to open up when needed. 

Create an Action Plan Together 

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Creating an action plan together can be very helpful in terms of providing support for someone struggling with self-harm. Talk through potential triggers, situations, thoughts, or emotions that could lead to self-harming behaviour so that these can be avoided as much as possible in the future.

You can also brainstorm healthy coping strategies such as deep breathing, journaling, exercise, etc., which can be used instead of self-harming behaviour when triggered emotions arise again in the future. Making sure there is an action plan in place gives both parties something concrete to refer back to during times of distress or difficulty so that everyone feels supported throughout this process.    


It’s important to remember that recovery looks different for everyone when it comes to self-harm; however, having the right tools and support system in place will make all the difference in helping someone cope with their struggles effectively and productively over time. By listening without judgment, encouraging professional support, and creating an action plan with your loved one, you can create a safe space where healing can begin and progress toward recovery!

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