What is self harm?

Self harm can refer to any type of behaviour that involves deliberately causing pain or injury to yourself.  Although the causes of self harm can vary, it’s most likely to be in response to psychological distress or after a traumatic event as a way to cope with what can be overwhelming emotions.

It can include extreme behaviour such as:

  • Cutting
  • Burning
  • Use of drugs, alcohol or prescription medications
  • Eating disorders such as binge eating

Self harm is also generally associated with a number of other mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, and can be a way to control or suppress the symptoms.  Unfortunately self harm practices can be dangerous and they can quickly become a compulsive habit, leading to serious injuries or even being life threatening.  If you are self harming, you need to seek medical assistance as soon as possible to break the habit and treat the underlying causes.

What are the signs and symptoms of self harm?

As with most mental health disorders, everyone can be affected, no matter their age or gender.  It is believed that self harm practices usually develop during the teenage years and, for some people, it can last for many years before they seek medical help.  Self harm can be a difficult issue to deal with, simply because many of the signs and symptoms can be deliberately hidden away from other people.  Signs of self harm can include the following practices:

  • Cutting the skin, either with knives or other sharp objects
  • Burning or picking at the skin
  • Being physically violent with the intent of hurting oneself, including punching walls or other objects
  • Pulling out hair

How common is self harm?

It is believed that in Australia, incidences of self harm are common.  Recent research has suggested that almost 10% of people have experienced self harm at some point in their lives, with at least 1% self harming in the past month.  Generally self harming practices start around the teenage years.

What are the causes of self harm?

As with other mental health issues, the causes of self harm are varied and can be very individual.  It is unusual for self harm to develop without some underlying cause, and it is associated with a range of other psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Self-harm may be used to:

  • Cope with feelings of negativity and painful emotions such as anger, sadness, guilt and grief
  • Release stress and tension caused by traumatic events or worry
  • To feel in control, when they feel out of control in their lives
  • To help deal with feelings of loneliness
  • As a cry for help from those around you

The underlying causes of these issues will be as individual as the people involved, however in general there are a number of factors that can bring about the development of self harming practices.  These include:

  • A major life event such as a death in the family or the breakdown of a marriage
  • Difficulties and tensions at home, school or work
  • Workplace or school bullying
  • Existing mental health issues such as anxiety or depression
  • Physical injury, illness or disease
  • Sexual or mental abuse
  • A past trauma

For the majority of people who develop self harming practices to cope with an aspect of their lives, suicide is not the goal, however they can become so dangerous that serious injury or even death may be a result.  This is why it is so important to seek professional help if you feel that you or others you know have an issue with self harm.  A trained medical professional will be able to assess and diagnose the problem, including any other mental disorders that may accompany the self harming practices.

Help for self harm

At Brain Training Australia we offer Neurofeedback Brain Training to help clients suffering with self harm tendencies.

We can help you, call us today

Our team of qualified and professional Neurofeedback Practitioners at Brain Training Australia have a vast range of experience to call on when working with client presenting with self harm tendencies.  Using our natural, non-invasive and drug-free approach of Neurofeedback Brain Training we can assist you in restoring healthy mental processes, achieving an overall better state of mental well-being and a higher quality of life.

We work with children, adolescents and adults of all ages, that need our assistance.  There is no referral required to begin working with the professional staff at Brain Training Australia, so contact us today. We want to help you get started on your road to recovery.

How to get started


Funding options available Private Health, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Medicare, Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA), to cover part of, if not all of your Brain Training Program with us (see our Fees Page).

The team at Brain Training Australia recognise the unique qualities of all our clients and will work closely with you to personalise your Brain Training Program so that you can achieve your goals of optimal mental processes.

We look forward to helping you live a much richer, happier and healthier life.