the user-led self-injury organisation.

  • UK
[shortcode here]


Self-harm Conference

Jules and I went on our travels on Sunday, down to Wells, near Glastonbury. Come Monday morning, we were in the thick of the day’s Self-Harm Conference, called ‘The Injured Self’.

We were fortunate to be invited when Alison Leyland (of Living Change) heard me speak at the CPC Conference (London) in May.

Alison organised the whole day, and we learnt then that it was the first conference she’s ever done! We were inspired by the CPC conference to organise our own next year, and I’m sure we learnt a lot from Alison’s efforts.

Delegates from all over came to discover more about the emotional drivers of ‘an injured person’ and self-injury itself. There were many counsellors, but also doctors, teachers, social workers and community leaders in attendance.

Alison started the conference by proposing that every human being was ‘injured’ in some way, and that birth (and before) and the early years of life laid down the basic personality of a person, and that pleasures and pains were deeply etched into a person’s psyche. Alison explained that her research had shown her that no matter how old and mature a person became, they would still revert to their basic personality and fear the same sorts of pains that they feared as a young child.

I spoke next, and I spent my hour (or longer) focusing on the emotional drivers behind the act of self-injury. I explained the definitions and differences of self-harm and self-injury, and raised the idea that self-injury is a (maladaptive) coping mechanism. People cope the very best way they can, and it can take a long time to find the strength to consider moving away from self-injury and to choose to learn new ways of coping.

After coffee and discussions, and after lunch, Professor Roger Baker spoke about ‘Emotional Processing’ and explained how experiencing emotion in the right manner at the right time, and then expressing that emotion in an appropriate (to the person) manner was crucial in being able to understand one’s self and the trauma and difficulties of life.

For me, I found it particularly interesting when Alison explained that, when in crisis, a mature and capable adult can revert to their most basic childhood personality. I certainly feel that I’m in control of my life, and that I’m a capable adult, and yet frequently I feel overwhelmed and vulnerable; I very much recognise that my fears feel just like my childhood fears.

It was good to hear Prof. Roger talk about the need to identify / label emotions correctly and experience and express them appropriately. At FirstSigns, we’ve always said that in order to avoid internalising emotions and bottling them away until we explode, that we’ve got to express them – and we love the creative expressions we receive, such as art and poetry.

Jules and I did our best to answer questions and speak to people, and lots of people left with our business cards :)

Many thanks to Alison for her organisational skills and passion about these difficult subjects.


If you’d like to have FirstSigns speak at your conference, please get in touch. We’re booked for two next year already!


  • Anonymous

    Echowing what others have said thankyou both of you for all your hard work and for helping us all so much while dealing with your own lives to. There should be an award or something for you two for what you give to the community even though were on the internet and for all the work you do at conferences and things. You mean a lot to us.

  • Anonymous


    I just want to thank both Jules and Wedge (ladies first! – sorry Wedge) for all the hard work they put into everything here at FirstSigns – they have and are doing a terrific job and dealing with their own lives as well as trying to help us live ours. I think that we ought to have a “handclap/pat on the back” type symbol or something so everyone of us out there can show these people and the moderators how much they mean to us.

  • Jules

    Aw thanks there. Actually, I’m always around and enjoy writing loads of articles each month for our Blog, and our newly revamped newsletter, SHiNES. I’m often online within our Message Board, and I post and reply when I feel I can add value, but obviously I’m busy Administering the whole board with Wedge and looking after members old and new.

  • Anonymous

    …..its good all the work wedge do going all round talking to peole to give awarness…..but why dont jules post no more…..she post nice and helpfull replys that listen to us……. i think she shud be round do more as we what firstsigns is for… wedge shud tell her to be there and help more…..thankyou…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.