Step-by-step action plan

  • 1

    If a friend or loved one is self-harming, it might be upsetting and worrying for you. Try to understand that it’s a way of coping with difficult emotions. Focus on how the person is feeling, not on what they’ve done.

  • 2

    Take action
    Reassure them that you’ll get them help. Talk about Pieta House and maybe even show them this website.

    Ask their permission to ring Pieta House on their behalf. Tell them that you’ll come with them, even if they are over 18.

    When you call, we’ll make an assessment appointment for the person who has been self-harming. We usually ask you to come with them to the first appointment.

  • 3

    Visit Pieta House
    There’s nothing to worry about when you come to see us. We treat everyone with dignity and respect, and we never pass judgement. We’ll welcome you both warmly.

    At the first meeting, the person will be invited to have a cup of tea or coffee and talk to one of our team, who will try to identify the reasons behind their self-harm. 

    After their session at Pieta House, take care not to interrogate them about the difficult experiences they’ve been talking about. Help them by showing kindness and compassion.

    Don’t ever ask to see any wounds or scars and don’t check if they’re still hurting themselves.

  • 4

    Ongoing support
    After the initial meeting, the person will be assigned a therapist who will have great understanding and compassion for their difficulties.

    They’ll see each other for sessions at least twice a week. This is so the person who has been self-harming can come through their crisis quickly and effectively. We know that someone’s mood and outlook can change after a session, but it can sometimes drop again.

    A therapist will never ask their client to stop self-harming. They know that it’s how the person is coping at the time. Sometimes people stop and then start to self-harm again. This is something that our therapists are used to dealing with. They’ll try to find out what happened to trigger the self-harming again.

    Regardless of a person’s age, the therapy process is completely confidential. When the person who is self-harming is under 18, however, we advise their parent(s) or guardian(s) on how to support them.