Another talk on Zoom… It was with a slightly heavy heart and sore head from a day of zooming with clients that I sat down to more screen-time.

But within minutes of Claire starting her talk the heaviness lifted and my brain clicked into engage mode.

Claire comes from a charity called Harmless. Based in Nottingham it offers support locally and nationally – to those who are self-harming and / or struggling with suicidal thoughts.

With so many services being cut and charities finding their funding diminishing too, there was quite a collective (happy) gasp (although we were all obediently on mute) when she described clients being offered up to 24-weeks of sessions, even up to 2-years in some cases, because the charity wants their clients “to recover well”. How refreshing it was to hear these words.

Claire spoke frankly and factually about what defines self-harm and our first 15-20 minutes were given to us having to think about the myths around self-harm. Sometimes these exercises can feel a little waffly and time-wasting, but the True or False statements were presented in such a candid manner that it only felt educational.

The presentation took a turn to another level of depth when Claire began to talk to us about her own journey through self-harm and depression. By using herself as a case study those of us in the group who perhaps were new to self-harm as a concept or not having experienced it through client-work, Claire was able to help her audience gain a very real understanding as to how and why a person may find themselves self-harming. Her story, laced with great sadnesses, great frustrations, and a lot of having to hide feelings from those around her, was deeply moving and as such was hugely appreciated by the HACP audience (qualified by the comments in the zoom-chat-box). Contextualising a topic which to some may not be something that feels quite real-enough or something they have first-hand knowledge of – by doing this, Claire opened the door in a gentle yet vivid way.

What I liked a lot about Claires talk, apart from the clarity of her content, was the fact that she got through it. Many recent online talks have resulted with little information being passed through the ether, with the ‘lecturer’ preferring to let the candidates mull over concepts rather than sharing their knowledge, and then never actually getting to the important point of the talk. Claire got on with it, she delivered useful facts, she offered us a suitable vocabulary with which to help our clients, and I hope she put to bed, for those who maybe don’t have the experience, some of the possible fear around working with clients who may be self-harming.

The HARMLESS website is brilliantly comprehensive, log on for more information: http://harmless.org.uk/

Clare De Lotbiniere