How can I approach someone that self harms?
Last Updated: 12/17/2018 at 12:21am
Susana Diaz, lpc
Licensed Professional Counselor
I believed that to be a successful therapist is to be able to empathize and connect with all clients. My work with clients is to help them identify resources to cope.
Top Rated Answers
Very gently! Many people who self harm are afraid of people finding out and it's important to approach them in the right way so that you don't create additional fear or stress in this person's life. Let them take the lead in the situation--after you let them know that you know what they've been doing, don't push them to quit self harm (it's not as easy as you might think) or to tell someone about it. Let them know that you're here for them if they need someone to talk to or to support them through this difficult time and then take a step back. Don't push and push and push because that will cause the person to pull away. Remember that self harm alone is not the problem--self harm is a symptom of bigger problems.
I am hearing that you are very worried about the person who you know self harms. I am wondering how it is you know that the person is self harming.
Don't point out someones scars or cuts if you dont know them personally. something like this is very personal for some people.
It's tricky, cause sometimes people who self harm try their hardest to hide it. If they're trying to hide it, then don't ask them about it directly but ask them how they are/about their home life, etc. Let them tell you what's wrong without you having to ask. (what's wrong is usually why they cut) If it's someone who openly shows it and doesn't care, I think that person wants someone to ask and notice they're pain. In that case, I think you can say something like, "I noticed some cuts on you. Is there anything I can do to help?" or "Would you like to talk about it?"
Approach them with kindness. You could ask them what's going on. If they don't want to tell you, they don't have to. Let them know that you will always be there for them.
The best thing you can do is be sensitive to how they feel and know you don't have all the answers. When I self harmed i feel it would have helped me more to have just had a listening ear from my friends that was always there rather than my feelings being drowned out by people giving me advice with out really knowing the situation and giving their own stories that they'd been there without even bothering to hear the whole story because of how subjective the experience can be. We are all in the dark but we don't all jump at the same shadow.
Like an average human! Just say hello, have a polite conversation and avoid talking about any scars etc. When they're ready to talk to you about self harm, they will come to you - don't feel like you have to mention it to them. Just say "I'm always here if you'd like to talk" and let them decide when they're ready. If they do open up then remember to be gentle and supportive, help them find ways of getting through it and thinking of alternatives, or getting help if it's needed, but don't pressure them into it. Just gently ease them into it, remember to allow them to the their time. Oh and don't forget to remind them that you care - trust me, it means a lot.
You can go into it in a smooth manner. Don't just go up and ask why they self harms. Let them open up naturally.
You can ask them about their situation, but not directly. Yoi don't have to be judgemental or make the person feel unwanted, since you are the one approaching them
The key to helping people is just being nice - and empathetic. Make sure the person who self harms knows you're there for them - sometimes when you're struggling a lot, it may feel like you're alone and there's no one there for you. You might not be able to fix things, but asking "how are you" "how have you been" "want to talk about stuff" etc. may be a good way to show them that you're there to listen to them
When I meet someone who self harms I ask them how they are doing, listen to their problems, ask them why they feel they are to blame if that is the case, what they figure they can do to resolve the situation and if possible allow them to understand their idea is not plausible, and give them resources to what options that are available to them so they understand, it is not their fault. In cases of low self-esteem I point out what is good about them as I get to know them more, just be friendly and compassionate and keep on with them until I know they do have those around them that didn't understand what they were going through but are willing to stick with them through their trials or until they find their way to appreciate themselves so they learn to love them self enough to stop harming themselves and do something more positive in their life.
Do not try and make them stop. They are self harming as a coping mechanism, if you make them stop suddenly, it could be catastrophic. Be supportive if they talk about it and be enthusiastic if they manage to stop for longer than normal. Don't be patronising though
Approach them with understanding and calm. The last thing someone who self-harms wants its to get scolded or yelled at. Try your best to understand why they do what they do, and make sure you don't get to emotional about it, as it can make them feel like your emotions are their fault. Good luck!
It can be an incredibly difficult thing, you can't force someone to open up that doesn't want to or isn't ready to. I think it can be an incredibly huge step simply to let someone know that you are available for them to talk to. It's hard, because that may not seem like it could make a big impact, but it can actually be the lifeline someone is looking for. Often times, we self harm because we don't know any other way to deal, and when you allow someone to know that you are available to them, you give them another option.
I think the best way to approach someone is to let them know you're doing so from a place of caring and concern, and not from judgement. A lot of self harmers are embarrassed or ashamed, and see it as weakness (it is not, obviously). In my opinion, the best thing to do would be let them know you have noticed they might not be okay, and that you're there to support them if/when they're ready to talk about it. Just letting them know that you are there could be a great support for them :)
With understanding and love. Try to point them to resources that may better help them cope with their triggers.
It's usually best to wait until they come to you as it's something they need to feel comfortable with talking about. Let them know you are there for them and keep talking to them until they are ready.
Show support without any judgement refer to a psychologist but show that your there for them at any moment to improve there health
Be polite to them and tell them you are here for them. Don't tell them to stop harming themselves, just try to help them by focusing on making them happy. Empathize with them, and tell them you understand, Don't ever ignore them.
If you know that they are self harming just let them know you are here for them and that you are by their side if they need you. Be non judgemental and show your support to them
Finding a good time with no distractions is a first step. Make sure whomever you are talking to about self harm realizes you care about and want to help them and that you are on their side.
Don’t point it out, believe me the person suffering won’t want you to be nosey about it and try to talk about it when you first approach them. If they want to open up to you in the future they will. Respect them, don’t ask to see cuts, scars or make comments such as “that looks really bad”, “what’s that?”, “how did you do that?” This usually will make the person self conscious and paranoid, instead act like the cuts and scars aren’t there, like I’ve already said, if they want to open up to you about their self harm they’ll do it on their own terms over time.
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