Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Butterfly Project

Because I work in a children's psychiatric assessment unit, I often have students who self-harm. Self-harm can come in different flavours. Some children verbally abuse themselves by talking to themselves in hurtful ways. Some physically abuse themselves by cutting or hitting themselves. Some abuse substances like drugs and alcohol.

Here's a project I introduce to children who cut themselves.

The Butterfly Project:
  1. When you feel like you want to cut, take a marker, pen or sharpies and draw a butterfly on your arm or hand.
  2. Name the butterfly after a loved one, or someone that really wants you to get better.
  3. You must let the butterfly fade naturally. No scrubbing it off.
  4. If you cut before the butterfly is gone, you've killed it. If you don't cut, it lives.
  5. If you have more than one butterfly, cutting kills all of them.
  6. Another person may draw them on you. These butterflies are extra special. Take good care of them.
  7. Even if you don't cut, feel free to draw a butterfly anyways, to show your support. If you do this, name it after someone you know that cuts or is suffering right now, and tell them.
While this project is not perfect and may not be right for some people, I do like it because for some people who cut and self-harm, it might help them replace the razor or knife with a person.

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