A COUNSELLING service run by Swindon MIND celebrated its first anniversary on Tuesday.

Self Harmony offers therapy and support for those who self-harm and suffer emotional and psychological distress.

This time last year, the service had six clients and now it serves 25 active clients in addition to a continuously-moving waiting list.

Co-lead psychotherapists and counsellors Laura Coleman and Janey Templer-Milligan talked about the various ways self-harm can be defined.

Laura said: "People say 'I don't self-harm because I don't cut myself', but it's broader than that, it can be eating too much, reckless behaviour, things like that."

Janey said: "It's a non-verbal communication of inner conflict and emotional turmoil that cannot be vocalised.

"There can be a lot of guilt and shame behind it but there's no judgement here."

Janey looked back on how the service has changed since it was relaunched a year ago under their guidance.

She said: "We were given the remit to revamp the service and we hit the ground running.

"We have seen more men and more people from the transgender community coming forward since we started.

"It's good that they feel they can reach out and talk about the issues that are bothering them.

"This anniversary is the first milestone of our progress and we are really proud of the service."

Laura said: "We are breaking down the stigma, re-educating people about self-harm and making it OK to talk about.

"It's really rewarding work because people come to us at their most vulnerable and we see them build themselves back up and then they leave in a better place."

Janey added: "We also have an open-door policy so anyone who finishes therapy can come back at any time and we give them a toolkit of educational material and coping strategies to help them manage their lives."

For more information about the service, call Swindon Mind on 01793 432031 and ask to speak to Janey or Laura, or email counselling@swindonmind.org