Chloe* first came to our Youth Team office, dragged in by one of her friends on a Thursday break time. I was really busy that day with a full appointment schedule, but, when the friend who brought her explained why they’d come, I put down my cuppa and started to listen. James* had been seeing me himself for several weeks about some things he was struggling with, but he was finding our one-to-one sessions so helpful, that when he discovered that Chloe had started self-harming, he knew that I could help.
As they came through the door, I could already tell that Chloe was very upset and anxious, and it didn’t take her long to start sharing her story, and revealing that she was struggling with the pressures of impending GCSE’s. Added to this, her relationship with one of her other school friends had become quite concerning, which added to her anxiety. In the privacy of her bedroom she had turned to self-harm, as she felt it was the only way to release the pressure that was building up in her mind.
From this point on I walked with Chloe until she no longer needed me. It was a scary thing for her to talk about, so we met her teacher together and agreed that it would be beneficial for her and I to meet once a week, at least until her exams. These sessions were really productive.
I don’t want to hurt myself anymore
The first week or so I just listened to her story and how she was feeling, I knew it was important to build up trust between us and to show her that she was valued by taking time to listen. As the weeks went on I taught Chloe ways of coping with the difficult friendship, techniques to manage exam stress and alternatives way to release stress instead of self-harming.
It was Chloe’s determination and choice to find a way through that helped her to change her life trajectory though. I was there to celebrate every little win with her and continue to talk through the more difficult issues, but having someone by her side inspired her to remain motivated. She chose to build exercise into her weekly routine, which she found to be a great release, and we worked to organise her revision more effectively.
But it wasn’t until she decided to break free from the difficult friendship and put into place some of the techniques we discussed to help her manage those feelings, that she finally felt that she had more control over her life again.
When it came time to sign her off my caseload, Chloe was much happier in herself and was relieved to have moved away from feeling the need to self-harm to a much more peaceful state of mind. I was over the moon when she told me: “I don’t want to self-harm anymore and I’m really happy I could stop it before it got bad”
*Names changed to protect their identity