• Safe with Self-Injury: a practical guide to understanding, responding and harm-reduction

Safe with Self-Injury: a practical guide to understanding, responding and harm-reduction

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ISBN 9781910919163
Cover Price: £23.99
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This book is an essential resource for anyone who has a supporting role or relationship with someone who hurts themself, whether in a professional or informal context. It is also a useful resource for people who self-injure, to help them to explore their experiences and to keep themselves safe. Based on interviews with people who self-injure and frontline practitioners and service managers who work with them, it explores why people self-injure, debunks myths and misconceptions about self-injury, explains self-injury in the contexts of human embodiment and a social model approach to distress and illness, and offers practical strategies for responding in meaningful ways, including using creative practices and harm-reduction. A final chapter offers guidance on how to write a harm-reduction policy for self-injury that can be used across any health, education and social services setting. This is an essential book that promotes better understanding and thus better responses to self-injury, brought to life with the words of people with first-hand experience of self-injury, for whom it is, or has been, an important coping mechanism. The book closes with a short account of Zest, a voluntary sector organisation in Northern Ireland, whose success with people who self-injure demonstrates what the guidance in this book looks like when put into practice, and that it really does work.


1. Self-injury essentials: understanding before intervention

2. Embodying distress: the functions of self-injury

3. The inner world: what is it like being you?

4. A social model: context is everything

5. Responding helpfully: embodied and social interventions

6. Staying safe: harm-reduction

7. Policy: making best practice happen

8. Going the distance: a case study of Zest (Northern Ireland)

Policy examples and learning exercises

This is an immensely useful text, which carefully combines sociological insights with practical advice on responding well to self-injury. The book provides a broad basis through which to develop a deeper understanding of the meanings self-injury has to diverse social groups; before charting the similarly diverse ways that people who hurt themselves can be supported – or support themselves. Inckle’s approach is grounded in principles of social justice, and provides a thoroughly refreshing guide, which will be of use to anyone who encounters self-injury in their personal or professional lives.

Dr Amy Chandler, University of Edinburgh. 


This book is an excellent contemporary account of self-injury and approaches to supporting people who self-injure. It includes a detailed and comprehensive section on harm reduction, and each chapter concludes with an informative “Learning into practice” section. The book will be an invaluable resource for anyone working in the field.

Hilary Lindsay, Self injury Support.


This is a book that offers a comprehensive view of a difficult topic, and does so in a way that is cal, thorough and rooted in the real-life experiences of others. It will be a valuable resource for anyone counselling people who self-injure and who would like a broader picture of the topic and to equip themselves with practical ideas for managing the situation. An excellent resource for individuals who are self-injuring, and to their parents/carers, teachers or friends. Each chapter finishes with a section that puts learning into practice, summarising ideas and suggesting ways it can be worked into practice.

Effie Lunn - Counsellor
Review in BACP Children and Young People


Kay Inckle

Dr Kay Inckle is a course convener in the sociology of health and medicine at the London School of Economics and Political Science. For a number of years she worked as a service-provider in a range of health and social care contexts supporting both adults and young people, and these experiences inspired her PhD and post-doctoral research. From 2009-2012 she ran a self-injury training service which specialized in delivering programmes based on a holistic and harm-reduction approach to self-injury. She remains passionate about transforming attitudes and practice around self-injury and she has a number of publications in the field including her previous book with PCCS books Flesh Wounds? New Ways of Understanding Self-Injury.

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Kay Inckle