Self Harm

Many people harm themselves by smoking, drinking or working too much, but some people engage in more extreme self injury by deliberately cutting, burning, scraping or bruising themselves. People who self injure are not necessarily suicidal; rather it may be “I don’t want to die, I just need to get rid of these terrible feelings.” Some people self harm many times every day- it can be addictive. Others do it on occasionally, such as when they are experiencing emotional stress. Research indicates self harm tends to begin in adolescence and disappear in the thirties. Females are more likely to to self harm than males.

Why self harm?

  • to escape from emptiness, depression or shame
  • to relieve pent up tensions, pressure or anger
  • to feel something- to know you still exist
  • to feel in control
  • to punish yourself because you feel you are “bad”
  • to maintain negative belief “I am flawed, worthless, weird”
  • to escape feelings of guilt
  • to let people know how bad things are
  • to express anger towards others and yourself but on your own body

There are ways to stop self harm immediately, ie. relaxation, distraction, exercising; but they are not long term solutions-make an appointment with me for that.

I recently found this idea for self harm; it feels compassionate to me and I intend to use it with my clients. It is called the Butterfly Project.

  1. When you feel like you want to cut, take a marker and draw a butterfly on your arm or hand.
  2. Name the butterfly after a loved one or someone that really wants you to get better.
  3. Let the butterfly fade naturally- do not scrub it off.
  4. If you cut before the butterfly is gone, you have killed it. If you dont cut, it lives.
  5. If you have more than one butterfly, cutting kills them all.
  6. Another person can draw them on you. These butterflies are extra special so take good care of them.
  7. Even if you dont cut, draw a butterfly anyway to show your support. Name it after someone who cuts or is suffering right now.


Love yourself, You deserve it!

Tina Gray-Siebers, MS, LPC, NCC