Self-destructive behaviour

We all hold ourselves back at times, but some people repeatedly act in ways that harm themselves.

Though it may seem surprising that anyone would hinder or sabotage their own wellbeing, the truth is that many people live with underlying psychological drives to do just that. We are all products of our life experiences and sometimes those experiences create drives to hold us back or hurt ourselves.

Addiction is one example of behaviour that damages people’s lives, but not all self-destructive behaviour falls under the umbrella of addiction. 

Common self-destructive behaviours include:

  • drug or alcohol misuse
  • risky or unprotected sex
  • uncontrolled gambling
  • cutting, burning, hair pulling
  • overuse of porn
  • chronic procrastination
  • unhealthy or disordered eating
  • overspending or going into debt
  • avoiding responsibility
  • ending or destroying personal relationships
  • sabotaging career or work
  • having affairs or pushing partners away

Why are people self-destructive?

There are many reasons people can act in self-destructive ways. They may be in so much pain that they want to numb it with substances. They may hate their body so much that they feel driven to damage it. They may feel like such a fraud at work that they sabotage their job before they can be found out. They may long for intimacy so much that they seek out sex where it feels like intimacy but may not be safe.

Sometimes, self-destructive behaviour originates from coping strategies. Self-coping mechanisms that were needed and effective in the past may have gotten out of control and now do more harm than good. It’s sometimes hard to recognise when a coping mechanism has gone past its expiry date and is no longer helping.

Often, people recognise their own self-destructive behaviour but feel unable to change it. The psychological drives behind the behaviour are so strong that people can feel powerless in the face of them.

Moving beyond self-destructive behaviour is possible.

Our clients have reported great results!

Mr K
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“I was attending sessions at One Therapy practice for about 1 1/2 years. I am very happy with the result, sessions there really helped me. I am really grateful to my therapist. Someone recommended him to me as a high professional and it proved right, thank you.”
Mrs M
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“I can only provide positive comments on my sessions with (my therapist). This was my first experience with a therapist, and she managed to make me feel comfortable. And I must say that the sessions were helpful and efficient.”
Mrs E
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“My therapist was extremely helpful, considerate and understanding. I felt she properly understood what the issues I had were, and their underlying causes, and I feel I benefited considerably from the sessions with her.”
Mrs N
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“I immediately felt completely at ease as they were very professional while showing genuine care and interest in helping me. I was able to confront many issues which I had so far chosen to ignore despite their negative effects on my personal relationships and happiness. I would have no hesitation in recommending (One Therapy) to anyone looking to improve their relationships and self-esteem.”
Mrs L
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“I learned a lot about myself and about the relationships I make with other people. I was able to see where I was going wrong and I now make better personal choices. Thank you, again.”
Mrs R
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“I can’t thank you enough for the help and support I got from my appointments. I would highly recommend therapy to anyone now. Therapy helped me in more ways than I could have imagined. Please tell (my therapist) how grateful I am for her help.”

Understanding self-destructive behaviour is the first step in getting it under control

Therapy for self-destructive behaviour seeks to understand the underlying causes of the problematic behaviour. The history, patterns and triggers of the self-destructive behaviour will be considered. It can also be useful to understand the purpose of negative behaviour patterns: Why am I doing this to myself? What part of me am I trying to destroy? Why does this behaviour feel outside of my control?

We have seen many clients with all types of self-destructive behaviour. If you would like to make a first appointment to speak with a therapist about any worrying behaviour, please contact us or book online. 

Learn how to put an end to your self-destructive behaviour and create the life you want

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Our therapists

We have over 30 qualified and experienced therapists to choose from.

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One Therapy London

Counselling, psychotherapy, couples counselling in London since 2006

Therapist James Eve
James Eve

James is a psychosexual and relationship therapist who has been in private practice for five years He works with individuals and couples on sexual and relationship difficulties, understanding that these can be significant causes of distress in one's life Prior to working in private practice, James worked for the psychosexual team at Croydon University Hospital He is a...

Oxford Circus

Therapist Roz Urquhart
Roz Urquhart

Roz is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, who offers both long- and short-term psychotherapy She works with a varied client group offering a welcoming, safe and confidential therapeutic space in which to help her clients explore and process the issues that are bringing them into therapy Roz supports her clients to focus on unconscious processes, inner conflicts and...

Oxford Circus

Therapist Natasha Maidment
Natasha Maidment

Natasha is a person–centred counsellor and psychotherapist who will provide you with a safe, empathetic and non-judgemental space to explore any thoughts or concerns you wish to bring She works with a range of issues including anxiety, stress, critical thoughts, trauma, relationship issues, identity, depression, loss and low self-esteem Natasha offers a...

Oxford Circus

Therapist Barbara Perini
Barbara Perini

Barbara is an accredited member of BACP, holding an MSc in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and adhering to the BACP ethical framework Her approach is open-ended, offering both short-term and long-term therapy Barbara has also trained in Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT), a short-term (16 sessions), semi-structured individual therapy developed for mood...

Oxford Circus

Therapist Stamatia Lorentzou
Stamatia Lorentzou

Stamatia draws on a broad range of theories of psychotherapy She works collaboratively with her clients to understand the causes of their concern and find ways to move forward Stamatia offers both short-term and longer-term therapy She has worked in various organisational settings with individuals seeking to address relationship issues, low self esteem, separation,...

Bloomsbury

Therapist Yussef Ferguson
Yussef Ferguson

Yussef is a psychodynamic psychotherapist who offers both long and short term personal therapy to individuals He has experience of working with a diverse range of clients and can provide a warm, confidential space to explore and gain insight into any past or present personal difficulties and experiences Yussef works with issues such as anxiety, depression, loss,...

Oxford Circus

Therapist Amrita Athwal
Amrita Athwal

Amrita works with adults in an integrative way, drawing on various therapeutic approaches tailored to meet the needs of each client She provides a safe space to help clients better understand themselves She offers short term and long term therapy Amrita has experience of working with clients on issues such as trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety, relationship...

Bloomsbury

Therapist Ben Brackenbury
Ben Brackenbury

Ben believes that at times we all struggle with the challenges life has to offer and therapy provides a safe, confidential, non-judgemental space to explore this Ben works with individuals to make sense of who they are and how they respond to the world today, and to explore new ways of being Ben is also sensitive to how difficult it might be for a client to talk to a...

Oxford Circus

Therapist Evan Bates
Evan Bates

Evan is a psychodynamic therapist, offering both long and short term therapy He creates a non-judgemental and reflective space to help clients explore their difficulties and concerns Working together to understand the connections between past and current relationships, Evan supports clients in developing a deeper awareness of their recurring emotional patterns and further...

Soho

Therapist Nicola Reeves
Nicola Reeves

Nicola is a psychodynamic psychotherapist and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) therapist Nicola believes in giving clients time and space to approach therapy in the way they need to approach it She finds this is the best way to develop a therapeutic relationship that allows feelings to be truly explored and evaluated As a psychodynamic...

Soho