Lisa Shouldice MA, RP, CCP, Psychotherapist

Individual, Couple & Family Counselling / Psychotherapy

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LGBT and Self-injury

Posted on 24 June, 2015 at 9:05

This morning I am taking the time to read "Freedom From Self-Harm- Overcoming Self-Injury with Skills from DBT and Other Treatmenents by Kim Gratz & Alexander Chapman.  As a psychotherapist that has supported clients with complex trauma, self-harm is an issue I have worked with often. Self-injury is a coping skill that is used to deal with intense affect.  People tend to discover its powers during a time in their lives when they are struggling. The biggest issue with using self-injury is actually how addictive it is.  It releases endorphins very quickly and generously into the body, a feat few other coping tools or skills can claim.  It is also found to be used more often within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans populations.  Huh? Interesting isn't it?  Why is this?  There is currently only speculation but a few educated guesses can be suggested.  The vast majority of people start self-harming as teenagers, a time when emotions are high and the body is changing.  This can be an even more difficult time for the LGBT population as many of them feel discriminated against and different at a time when everyone is striving to be the same.  It is hard to discuss sexuality and becoming an adult with friends when everyone seems to have a different experience than we do, often resulting in feelings of isolation and loneliness. Unfortunately, discrimination is alive and well, despite recent changes ex: in Trans policy and related surgeries.  The shame and secrecy around self-injury is intense and for us LGBT folks it may only be another secret in our lives.  So please tell someone you trust!  And there is help out there to help control it and learn to cope in healthier ways.  Choose a professional, including a doctor, that understands self- injury and can be a support rather than create further shame for you. Sending love and light!

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