Parenting a child affected by self-harm issues

Parenting a child affected by self-harm issues

Dan Hughes


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Self-harm in children and young people occurs across society, and is very worrying for parents, carers and indeed the children themselves. This guide specifically explores self-harm in children and young people who are fostered or adopted. The reasons behind self-harm are complex and can be related to a range of factors, but for those who have been in care, difficult experiences in their early lives can contribute significantly to self-harming in later childhood.

This new title in the Parenting Matters series provides authoritative, clinical guidance for carers and adopters on this difficult and concerning issue. In straightforward language, it explores the links between early trauma and self-harm, how self-harming behaviour may manifest, and what it may tell us about children’s underlying emotions and neurobiology. The guide explores how children may be affected at different ages and stages, and the ways in which self-harm can affect education and social expectations. Vital practical guidance is also provided on how parents and carers can address self-harm in the moment at which children are carrying out this behaviour. In the second half of the book, revealing case studies and dialogues explore what it can be like to live with affected children, and illustrate what has worked, or hasn’t worked, for other families.

This book is part of CoramBAAF’s Parenting Matters series which explores many of the health conditions commonly diagnosed in looked after children.

Who is this book for?

A useful book for adopters, those thinking about adopting, foster carers, social work practitioners and all those involved in the care of looked after children. The combination of expert information and case study experience will help readers gain knowledge and understanding and make informed decisions.

What you will find in this book

The first half of the book examines the often complex underlying reasons for self-harming behaviour in fostered and adopted children, and how this may be connected to earlier trauma and disruptive relationships. It also considers how best to address, manage and treat this issue. In the second half, case studies and dialogues explore what it can be like to live with affected children, and illustrate what has worked, or hasn’t worked, for other families as they have sought to manage and/or solve their children’s difficulties.


Dan Hughes:
For most of his professional life, Dr Dan Hughes has been a clinician specialising in the treatment of children and young people with severe emotional and behavioural problems. Working primarily with fostered and adopted children and their carers and parents, Dan borrowed heavily from attachment, intersubjectivity and trauma theories and research to develop a model of treatment that he calls Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) – also known as Attachment-Focused Family Therapy. Dan is the author of a number of books and articles, including his previous contributions to this series: Parenting a Child with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (2012) and Parenting a Child who has Experienced Trauma (2016). Dan’s current passion is training therapists in his treatment model. He has trained therapists in the US, UK, Canada and other countries for the past 20 years. He also provides ongoing consultation and supervision to various agencies and clinicians. Dan has initiated a certification programme for therapists interested in his treatment model.