SAFA guidance to get support


WHY Do I Self-Harm?

Usually people self-harm because they have yet to discover other ways of expressing or coping with painful feelings. Self-harm is a way of coping with these difficult emotions.
Lots of people do not know why they selfharm, so it would be useful to record your thoughts in a journal so you can look back on them. You may also wish to share your thoughts with a counsellor.
As you ask yourself the following questions think about the last time you self-harmed:
  • What was happening in your life when you first began to self-harm?
  • What happened just before you felt the need to self-harm?
  • Would it be useful to keep a mood diary (maybe as part of your journal) that shows how what is happening influences your mood?
  • Where are you when you need to selfharm?
  • Who is with you when you want to selfharm?
  • What thoughts are going on in your mind that lead to you feeling so overwhelmed?

CYCLE Of Self-Harms


WHAT Steps can I take to stop Self-Harming?

One of the best ways to get help is to find someone you can talk to and trust.
Plan for times you feel you are going to self-harm as when that time comes you cannot always think clearly. Make a list of things you enjoy doing and that relax you.
These may include:
  • Phoning / visiting a friend you can trust.
  • Playing or listening to music.
  • Writing your feelings down in a journal.
  • Counting down slowly from 10 to 0.
  • Drawing your emotions – they can be as abstract if you like.
  • Physical exercise – dancing, walking etc.
  • Reading.
  • Listening to relaxing tapes or doing deep breathing exercises.
  • Pamper yourself – have a relaxing bath, wash your hair, buy yourself something.
  • Focus on objects around you, think about what they look, sound, smell, taste.
Remember initially the aim is to delay when you are going to self-harm; at first maybe 5 minutes and building up from there as you begin new strategies.

SAFA Support Includes:

  • Offer some immediacy in supporting people who are in distress.
  • Fill a gap in local health services.
  • Offer people choices about the type of support they receive.
  • Do not have the stigma often associated with local mental health services.

WHAT If I still want to hurt myself?

These are other distraction exercises you could try. These do not work for everyone but some find them useful:
  • Using a punch bag or punching pillows.
  • Put your hands into a bowl of ice-cubes or rubbing them on the part of the body you want to self-injure (only do this for a short time, you don’t want to end up with frost bite!).
  • Use non-toxic pens to draw feelings on your skin.
  • Put plasters on the part you want to self-harm.
It is all about little steps. Take time out to acknowledge every one of those little steps you take towards healing yourself.


Talking it out helps to prevent the build up of tensions by regularly venting feelings and thoughts, e.g. regular counselling. Being listened to by someone who is NOT trying to change you but simply their to support you can help.

WHO do I talk to?

  • Face-to-face with someone else (e.g. a counsellor).
  • On the phone to a trusted friend.
  • Use non-toxic pens to draw feelings on your skin.
  • On the phone to another organisation who listens e.g. MIND, The Samaritans.


What age of people do SAFA support?

We work with clients aged 11+. There is no upper age limit.

Do you have support for drug and alcohol abuse?

Where can I get face to face support?

We offer counselling in Barrow in Furness, Kendal and several other locations around the county.

Where to get help?

The first place to start is your GP. We recognize that it takes courage to speak openly about your worries and concerns, perhaps take a family member or a trusted friend along for support.

Talking to your Doctor

This can feel incredibly overwhelming and makes the way you are feeling very real, often when we are in the grips of an Eating Disorder we are in denial that there is a problem.
It’s everyone around us who doesn’t like it or is jealous of you being thin. When we are able to move out of denial we can see that we have a problem which needs help. Often we feel weak for asking for help but in fact it’s a strength.

Are SAFA counsellors qualified?

All of our counsellors are registered with the BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy).

Do you provide support and treatment for Eating Disorders?

The sooner someone is treated for an Eating Disorder, the better the chance of making a full recovery. We know that gaining access to treatment isn’t always as straight forward as we would like it to be.
SAFA is not a crisis service which can also be very frustrating for you. Because it takes courage to ask for help. What SAFA does offer is a professional 1:1 counselling to work with the core issues which are affecting you.
Concerned about
a child? Freephone

Childline 0800 111

Self-Harm awareness for all.

"SAFA is commited to making a possitive difference to the lives of individuals who self harm and to those who support them”

SAFA is also committed to providing safe, ethical and professional counselling/psychotherapy services. We also offer professional training courses tailored to both individuals and organisational need.
Working in partnership with:

Cumbria Youth Alliance

Providing infrastructure support for organisations working with children, young people and families..

Morecambe Bay CCG

Clinincal Commissioning Group.
Useful contacts
Referral Forms

To access SAFA counselling services
a referral form is required.

Self Referral

If you are a individual whom needs to self-refer, follow this link to take you to the referral process.

Professional Referral

If you are a professional practice and have a client to refer, follow this link to the referral process.
If you need to use our counselling services please fill out a Self Referral Form. If a Doctor or Profesional organisation is involved they can use the Profesional Refarral Form.
After filling out the referral you will initially be contacted by one of our trained counsellors via email. If you prefer to be contacted another way please specify on the form.
Each counselling session has a full cost of £85. We are inviting contributions of £35 per session payable at the beginning of each session which will reduce your waiting list time. If you tick yes we will be in contact with further information. Otherwise you will be added to the normal SAFA waiting list.
For any queries please contact us by clicking the link below.

You can help SAFA - You can make a difference

Become a Volunteer

Become a Volunteer

SAFA has volunteer
opportunities for
people of all ages.

Donate to SAFA

Donate to SAFA

SAFA replies on donations
from its supporters. Help us to
help the people in need.



Have a wacky event
idea? Or join in one of

Shop Products

Shop Products

Help SAFA online
by using platforms Amazon
Smile and JustGiving