To explore, describe and understand former patients' experiences of recovery from self-harm.Previous research shows that a person's development towards a more secure self-image, mastery of their emotions, an understanding of what triggers self-harm and mastery of new ways to cope with problems are central to recovery. Recovery from self-harm is still a relatively new field of research.A phenomenological hermeneutical approach.Eight participants were interviewed in 2013. Inclusion criteria were as follows: to have committed no self-harm during the past 2 years, to have experienced recovery and to be 18 or older. We analysed data using a phenomenological hermeneutical method.The findings resulted in three themes with subthemes. The first theme, the turning point, occurred at the start of the recovery process. Participants learned to choose life, verbally express their inner pain and reconcile with their life histories. In the second theme, coping with everyday life, participants learned how to choose alternative actions instead of self-harm and attend to their basic, physical needs. In the third theme, valuing close relationships and relationships with mental health nurses, participants learned to receive support from close relationships with others and mental health nurses. A tentative model illustrates the comprehensive understanding of the recovery process, described as an individual, prolonged learning process.To achieve recovery, persons who self-harm need guidance and knowledge of how to realize a personal learning process. More research is needed on how mental health nurses can support individual transition processes and thereby facilitate recovery.