How is self-injury treated?

Therapy can be used to help a person stop engaging in self-injury:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy might be used to help an individual learn to recognize and address triggering feelings in healthier ways.
  • Post-traumatic stress therapies might be helpful for self-injurers who have a history of abuse or incest.
  • Group therapy might be helpful in decreasing the shame associated with self-harm, and in supporting the healthy expression of emotions.
  • Family therapy can help to address any history of family stress related to the behavior, and can help family members learn to communicate more directly and non-judgmentally with each other.

In addition, hypnosis or other self-relaxation techniques are helpful in reducing the stress and tension that often precede incidents of self-injury.

Medicines such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication might be used to reduce the initial impulsive response to stress.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/04/2013.


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