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TopWorking with Trauma and Self Harm

The definition of psychological trauma is that it is an affliction of the powerless. Traumatic events overwhelm the ordinary systems of care that give people a sense of control, connection and meaning. Children are particularly vulnerable.

The definition of self harm is a that of deliberate non life threatening, self inflicted bodily harm or disfigurement which is of a socially unacceptable nature. This may include head banging, scratching, cutting of the skin etc. It can be linked to past trauma or loss, bullying or young people with more sensitive dispositions who struggle with feelings, emotions and traits of perfectionism. It often occurs when a young person has experienced past trauma. Its function can be to serve as a re-enactment of the original trauma, or to provide a form of expression of feelings or needs, as a way of organising the self or to provide management and maintenance of dissociative processes.

Recovery from a state of self harming involves:

  • Entering into a healing relationship with a therapist or carer
  • The creation of a safe environment
  • Possible remembering and mourning related to a trauma
  • Reconnecting with ordinary life

The Therapist’s role is :

    • To listen to children and young people
    • To show interest in them and their achievements
    • To advocate for their safety and well being
    • To be consistent with what we say and do
    • To believe in the concept of resilience
    • To keep hope alive
    • To be caring, flexible, honest, kind and knowledgeable.