Understanding Self-Harm

Understanding Self-Harm

05March 16:30H posted by James Ogle, MSW, LCSW

One of the most difficult things for a person to understand is why someone may hurt themself through self-harm. A person may assume this behavior is self-destructive. Though the consequence of self-harm may be considered self-destructive, a person who hurts themself through self-harm is trying to survive. A person may hurt themself through self-harm to distract themself from painful emotions by focusing on the physical sensations from cutting or other forms of self-mutilation. A person who expresses feeling numb and not experiencing emotions for a significant time may self-harm in order to feel something.

When working with a person who hurts themself through self-harm, I first discuss a common faulty cognition: allowing yourself to feel negative emotions will cause overwhelmed feelings and bring irreparable damage to your life. I find that many clients fear feeling negative emotions and I talk about how allowing yourself to feel painful emotions may actually cause that emotion to dissipate. As clients are more willing and are open to experiencing their feelings, I assist them to identify and practice emotion regulation skills they can utilize when painful feelings are triggered. When working with a person who hurts themself through self-harm, I assist the client to develop healthy coping skills to replace self-harm behaviors. Clients may find that when they allow themselves to experience a painful emotion, they may also feel a positive emotion.

I find the most challenging part of working with a person who may hurt themself through self-harm is that the person often has a negative self-view. Throughout the therapy process, I attempt to help clients recognize their internal strengths. Even though it can be scary to take the risk to believe you are worthwhile, I find clients who are able to shift their self-view often feel better about themself and no longer feel the need to use self-harm.

Jim Ogle, MSW, LCSW

Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who earned his Master’s degree in Social Work from Boston College. Having grown up in the North Shore area, Jim brings a familiarity of the community to the practice. He has been with Attention to Wellness for over a year and has over 16 years’ experience working with both adolescents and adults.

Jim has provided treatment in a variety of clinical settings to adolescents, adults, and families experiencing depression, anxiety, conduct issues, and other mood disorders. He brings six years’ experience working in court systems with youth on probation who were at risk of being removed from their home, and their families. Jim also brings experience providing anger management and drug counseling groups within multiple schools. Currently, Jim also works at a high school providing social work services to students who have an Individualized Education Program.

Jim’s approach with both adolescents and adults incorporates techniques from strengths-based, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (CBT/DBT), Motivational Interviewing, and Structural Family Therapy to help clients identify and eliminate barriers that inhibit them from achieving their goals.


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