Self-harming is highly damaging behaviour which can literally affect anyone of all ages with the right triggers.  The problem has been around since biblical times and back then was termed “self-flagellation”. 

Since not everyone seeks help for self-harming it is difficult to be accurate about the numbers within specific age groups but it is increasingly a problem among young people in the Millennial Generation.

Essentially, self-harming means to inflict physical damage to yourself to convey feelings which cannot be put into words or to release painful emotions.  People who self-harm may initially feel better for a time but this is only temporary relief.  The painful feelings can and will return, and then the cycle repeats itself.

Possible Root Causes for Self-Harming

It is clearly a significant cause for concern if you or someone close to you is causing intentional injury to their body.  Self-harming can be linked to anxiety and depression but can also involve:

Why Self-Harm?

Some people who self-harm do it to try to feel in control of something when they actually feel powerless.  Some do it to simply feel alive or to feel anything because all they feel is numb and empty.

Self-harmers often hide their injuries so outward signs may not be immediately apparent. Keeping their behaviour secret is isolating, further adding to their despair and loneliness.  They develop feelings of guilt and become trapped in a downward spiral where they feel shame for their behaviour.  They do not believe anyone will understand and this mindset adversely affects their relationships.

Identifying People Who Self-Harm

If you know what to look out for there are many different ways to detect that something is wrong.  Note unexplained physical injuries such as cuts, bruises and even cigarette burns.  Very often these can be found on wrists, arms, thighs and chest areas.  It is probable that self-harmers will keep their body fully covered no matter how hot the weather is.  Other classic indications to look out for include signs of depression as well as:

Less obvious self-harming behaviours include:

Self-Harming Is Used to Cope with Significant Emotional Distress

Self-harmers have a very real intention to self-punish, relieve intolerable tension or to deal with deep and overwhelming emotional distress. The reasons behind this behaviour can include one or more of these possibilities.  It should be regarded very much as a painful cry for help and should not be ignored. 

High Risk of Suicide

Some self-harmers can feel like they want to die so it is not surprising that those engaging in self-harm are at high risk of attempting suicide.  In fact, figures suggest that in more than 50% of deaths by suicide there had been a history of self-harming.  With suicide statistics like this, self-harming behaviour needs to be taken seriously.  Self-harming people should not be dismissed as attention seeking.  The sad truth is that they self-harm in secret and are fearful of discovery.  Many do not really want to commit suicide at all.

Common self-harming methods involve cutting or burning the skin, punching themselves or poisoning with toxic substances. 

Close family and friends are often best placed to notice when a person is self-harming.  Anyone wanting to support a self-harmer must acknowledge and overcome their feelings of shock when they realise someone they care about is a self-harmer.  Seeing things from their loved one’s perspective and learning about the issue will help them to be supportive. 

Help for Self-Harming People

Self-harming can start with a momentary impulsive reaction to an event.  But the situation can soon escalate to a seemingly uncontrollable compulsion and then it can become very addictive.

Teaching self-harming people how to deal with emotional pain and trauma in a more positive way is essential.  Help from a qualified health professional should be sought at the earliest opportunity – the earlier it is caught the easier it is to address.

Many GPs are happy to refer self-harmers for hypnotherapy and other complementary services.  It is critical that the underlying root cause or triggers are identified and resolved.  Hypnotherapy can be very effective at doing this.  If you would like to learn how hypnosis can improve resilience and eliminate self-harming then please contact Nicki at or call 07568 145151.

Alison Hughes, Director of Quality Assurance and Inclusion, KWEST Multi Academy Trust (far right) with her team of ShineTime trainers
after receiving their certificates from Nicki Williamson (first left) of The Wellbeing People.

Growing Self Confidence and Resilience in West Norfolk School Children

The Wellbeing People have had the pleasure of working with KWEST Multi Academy Trust when they invested in ShineTime in order to provide emotional wellbeing support as part of the curriculum in all KWEST schools. We are excited at the success of this new Programme which builds resilience, confidence and self-esteem for children.   

ShineTime Results Led to KWEST Commitment in Train the Trainer Programme

ShineTime results speak for themselves with children reporting increased levels of confidence and happiness alongside accelerated exam results due to the fact that the children truly believe they can!

Paul Donkersloot, CEO of KWEST Multi Academy Trust says: "We are delighted with the positive impact that ShineTime has produced  for our children. Our confidence in ShineTime has led to a commitment to their Train the Trainer Programme so that we can ensure delivery across all of our schools. It has been inspiring to work with Nicki and benefit from her commitment, passion and expertise."

Nicki Williamson of The Wellbeing People said: "ShineTime can be delivered in schools directly by The Wellbeing People and can reach up to six children across a single Programme.  KWEST wanted to ensure they could provide access to the ShineTime techniques across their Academy so engaged in the Train the Trainer Programme.  ShineTime is designed for flexible delivery, the tools and techniques benefit every child.  It’s been a real pleasure to work with a Multi Academy Trust that truly supports the emotional wellbeing of children."

ShineTime teaches children unique tools and techniques to support them throughout their lives - from dealing with challenging situations such as exams and transition, to spending time understanding their emotions and how to manage them. The Programme helps children to celebrate and realise that they’re ‘perfect, just as they are’.  KWEST has invested in ShineTime and ensured at least one member of staff from each of their schools has the training and support to competently deliver the Programme for their children.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about building resilience and self-confidence in children and our Train the Trainer Programme, contact Nicki at or call 07568 145151.

Story picked up by Lynn News, 4 November 2019 - click to see the Lynn News article

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