I want to comment on this document.
I do not find non-self injury contracts a useful tool in therapy.
Things that are not helpful...
1. giving ultimatums You may not cut. I won't be your friend if you injure yourself.
2. "Stop it for me." "promise me you won't cut for me" - We need to stop for ourselves.
3. "just don't cut" - if it were that simple don't you think we would do it?
4. Non injuring contracts. SIV is a coping mechanism. It may very well be there ONLY coping skill. Until there is a new skill learned-practiced-implemented, the SIV will continue. (We don't ask babies to be born and get up and walk the same day. they learn to use there muscles first, roll over, crawl, stand, then walk. it is a slow gradual process.)
At that time (oh my gawd does that really say April 27, 1988???) I am 23 years old and Richard and I had made it past the initial MAJOR hurdle that sent me to therapy in the first place. (I had in place and set suicide plans for offing my self on/before my 23rd birthday.)
We are getting around to starting to find me and unravel me from my past. The SIV kicked up suddenly as we began to do so. Prompting him to write this and have me sign it.
The two us had no clue what would or would not work. SIV was just in the initial stages of being hinted at in the public eye. There was only small references to it in the psychology books available.
This contract helped me in a different way then it was intended too.
First let me point out that little scribble mark under my name...heh.
I may have signed it, but that is the TCOS insignia under it. Which is me basically saying: signing this to make you happy, but we don't yield to it.
Did I mention Richard had his hands full dealing with me? Which may explain why he later enlisted the help of the hypnotherapist's to work with me.
I found a note from 1989 where we were discussing MY image of HIS image of me.
I thought he saw me as a "Bizarre person."
He actually saw me as a: "Confused complex person."
Not only did that man save me....he saw me.
Since I was living in a very dissociated state back then, it was very easy for me to walk out of therapy and "loose that hour" in my mind. I would compartmentalize all our work and healthy coping strategies and slid right back into the ditch in my mind of numbing depression and self hatred.
Having tangible "proof" proved to be a valuable healing tool. It wasn't his business card that did it...it was his handwriting.
I had that contract hung up in my trailer for years. I didn't look at "it", instead, I would find my self looking at his handwriting. Not a typed form letter...proof that an actual person wrote to ME and cared enough about me to want to extend a hand and help me.
Something to hold and touch was powerful. When my mind doubted his conviction to be on my side I could go look at the contract. Touch it. Nope he was still in my corner. I had the proof right here in my hand.
I did get the courage to reach out to him eventually.
His note a small bridge between the darkness and the light.
So what would I suggest in lieu of a non-injuring contract?
I think those that live with SIV should have their therapists sign something like this instead:
I am not going to drop you as a client because you self injure. I will see an injury as a sign that there is more work to be done. I will understand that each injury is a message shouting silently for help. I will help you to understand your choice of coping skills and then help you to learn new ones. I will stand by you as you implement them and use them. I will NOT abandon you if you fall. I will be there to offer my hand to you.
The goal of our work together will be to:
1. Understand why SIV came to be your coping skill.
2. To work on those underlying issues.
3. To learn, practice, and implement healthy coping skills.
4. To continue the healing journey, and personal growth.
If you choose to add "stop self injury" to your personal therapy goals I will remind you that all the work we are doing right now is slowly and safely walking you to that goal. You will not make it there any quicker jumping through the hoops. You must carefully and slowly process through this. You are worth the work. You are worth the wait to accomplish this goal.
__________________ (signed and dated)