Compassionate care for people who self-harm: principles, tools and techniques

Rayner, Gillian orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7293-525X and Wright, Karen Margaret orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0693-7294 (2023) Compassionate care for people who self-harm: principles, tools and techniques. Mental Health Practice, 26 (2). ISSN 1465-8720

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People who self-harm tend to find it challenging to accept care and compassion from others and to be compassionate towards themselves. Providing compassionate care to people who self-harm can be a soothing intervention that reduces their distress and/or helps them manage their distress. Nurses can support people who self-harm on their journey towards recovery by delivering interventions informed by compassion-focused therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.

This article offers insights into compassionate care for people who self-harm and advice on how to provide it. Tools and techniques for enhancing compassion in the care of people who self-harm – including formulation, urge surfing, compassionate kit bags and compassionate wound care – are described. A case study outlines the importance of showing compassion to people who self-harm when they seek support from healthcare services.

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