Online Spaces, Self-Injury and Spirituality
Who is having conversations about SI and spirituality in online spaces?
On a recent trip to the UK to attend the International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry Conference, I met Dr Lucie Shuker who is the Director of Research for Youthscape, an organization that is doing innovative youth work in the UK. One of their areas of outreach is in self-injury.
Jo Fitzsimmons, the manager of Alumina, has kindly written a short summary of the work that her team is doing to support young people who self-injure with Self Harm UK:
Self Harm UK came out of youth work in Luton, UK, in 2005 as we sought to address the increasing issue of self harm amongst UK teenagers.
The website (www.selfharm.co.uk) gives information to young people, parents and professionals who are seeking support - through education and engagement.
It soon became clear that more additional and direct support was needed: Alumina was birthed!
Alumina is a 6 session programme that looks at:
• life maps (how my past has influenced my emotions);
• the addictive nature of self harm;
• ‘control’ (what we can control, feel unable to control and want to control) and what alternatives can be used;
• communicating our emotions and needs;
• the process of how our thoughts link to behaviours and using alternatives to manage those thoughts;
• choosing what happens now…
Young people report a reduction in their harming behaviour by engaging in Alumina - the success seems to be because it is anonymous, confidential and relational with our team who work to empower young people to look at their harming and choices they want to make regarding how to cope with difficult emotions.
In the last 2 years we have supported over 900 young people in online sessions and trained almost 1500 youth workers to support young people face to face – in schools, youth centres, churches and hospitals. By doing this we are breaking the stigma of self- harm and allowing young people to disclose in safe places to safe people; away from the pro websites many of them engage with.
Thank you so much Jo for writing about the excellent work you and your team are doing at Self Harm UK!