It is with great honor and pleasure to introduce Dr. Wendy Lader, Clinical Director of S.A.F.E. Alternatives, to write a guest blog post describing her program! Please remember that for each new user that signs up for http://www.ChronicleMe.com this week, we will make a donation to her life-saving organization.
“S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES® is a nationally recognized treatment approach, professional network, and educational resource base committed to helping self-injurers put an end to their self-harm. We opened our doors in 1986 as the first acute care hospital unit designed exclusively for the treatment of self-injury. At that time, self-injury was a little known behavior and was often confused with suicide. Many of our clients were hospitalized each and every time they self-injured and were often institutionalized for years at a time. We knew there had to be a more efficacious and compassionate way to treat these behaviors. We recognized that the behavior did not define the person and that people who utilized these behaviors were not crazy, but rather trying to cope with intense emotional states.
Unlike many treatment models, the S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES® philosophy respects the autonomy and choice-making capacities of the individual. It is not an authoritarian model; we don’t believe that helpers can or should take all the responsibility for keeping the self-injurer safe. Ultimately, the self-injurer must be empowered to learn to keep themselves safe. In order to get well, there must be a shift in the locus of responsibility from the helper, to the one being helped. The helping relationship is a partnership, not a “parental” relationship. At S.A.F.E., we try to create a “culture of safety” in which the injurer comes to realize that self-injury destroys relationships, but safety brings people closer to them. We also do not employ infantilizing, restricting methods of behavior control, which reinforce the individual’s sense of helplessness and powerlessness.
Since 1986 S.A.F.E. has treated thousands of clients in both residential and outpatient settings. We have also provided information and support to thousands more.
To find out more about what S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES® has to offer please visit us at www.selfinjury.com or call the 800- DONTCUT information line . We offer a free informational video for parents, a monitored blog as well as a variety of resources for clients their loved ones and professionals including a list of therapists from around the country who work with clients who self-injure.”