Where self-injury is a behavior that the young person engages in or where it is an identified risk, practitioners can assist young people to develop strategies to either reduce the potential for harm or find viable alternatives. The intention is to keep the young person as safe as possible and to reduce reliance on self-injuring as a way of coping and managing their lives. This focus on reducing harm in the short term and empowerment through reducing the need to self-injure in the long term is commensurate with the values and commitments that underscore youth AOD practice.
Through accepting that self-injury has a function for some people practitioners can engage young people to reduce the damage and negative impact of that behaviour, whilst encouraging engagement with self-help or treatment that may reduce the distress precipitating the self-injury.
Young people may also be interested in websites that promote self-help or peer support. Some links appear on the side-bar of this page.
The following modules are a guide to building useful knowledge and skills that can enable young people to find constructive ways to manage some of the most common underlying issues that contribute to self-injury:
- Emotion Regulation module
- Distress Tolerance module
- Interpersonal Effectiveness module
- Anger Management module
It is essential that a young person and potentially others involved in their care are involved in developing their own goals and strategies in relation to self-injury. Strategies should be sensitive to context and the young person needs to believe that they are feasible and effective. Ahead of time it is worth identifying how the implementation of strategies can be supported as well any barriers that need to be addressed.
The following is a list of potential harm-reduction strategies that can be implemented by a young person:
- not self-injuring while effected by alcohol or other drugs
- implementing self-injury reduction strategies (eg: tape blades into a box so harder to accesss, locking bedroom door, reducing / restricting the severity of injury, handing over implements to staff, utilising less harmful types of self-injury)
- ensuring the young person receives appropriate first aid or medical care for their wounds:
- informing staff after self-injuring
- receiving appropriate first aid / medical care
- staff not restraining a young person or removing implements used to self-injure (to avoid accidental injuries to either staff or the young person).
- Educate about wound care e.g. first aid; provision of bandages/antiseptic/gloves