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Stop biting your nails, pulling your hair out, scratching your skin

The repetitive self-grooming behavior resulting in bodily harm is called repetitive body-centered behavior (BFRB). The difference between normal grooming behaviors and BFRB is that the behavior causes substantial personal distress or interferes with daily functioning. The two most common are tearing your hair (trichotillomania) and scratching the skin (excoriation).

Body-centered repetitive behavior (BFRB)

Although studies show that BFRBs are quite common (around 2 to 5% of the general public suffers from trichotillomania and 5% from excoriation), few professionals have up-to-date information on how to best treat these conditions.

These behaviors typically begin between the ages of 11 and 15, although they can start at any age. We don't yet know exactly why some people engage in this behavior and others don't, although research shows that some people may have a hereditary predisposition.

A hereditary predisposition

It is important to note however that even with a hereditary predisposition, many other factors are involved: factors of temperament, environment, age of onset of behavior and family stress. Some people assume that these behaviors are a sign of an unresolved problem that needs to be addressed for BFRB to improve, but it is evident from studies that this in itself is not a sign of trauma. resolved.

Rather, those who engage in these behaviors seem to do so to relieve stress or to experience gratification or other sensations; it is not the same as self-harm.

CBT psychotherapy is the treatment of choice

Existing studies have shown that CBT psychotherapy is the treatment of choice; it is superior to the drugs and the outcome of the treatment. Other important factors in treatment include social support from loved ones , awareness training to help the person focus on the circumstances in which the behaviors are occurring, and training to replace another response to needs usually met with. the BFRB.

The Comprehensive Behavioral Treatment (ComB) Model

The Comprehensive Behavioral Processing (ComB) model assumes that behaviors meet one or more of the individual's needs, such as helping them feel their need is met, fall asleep, or simply relax. By working with the therapist in this approach, the patient learns to understand their internal and external triggers and to choose individualized strategies.

For example, a person who bites their nails to stop worrying can learn to think differently and reduce their anxiety; Another client who is pulling out their hair may be encouraged to use a comb not only to soothe the itchiness that triggers the behavior, but also to deter themselves from putting their fingers in contact with their scalp. Each strategy is designed to meet the unique needs of the BFRB.

Many people experience shame, isolation and low self-esteem after trying to manage their behavior for years. Some of my patients have found it difficult to establish close relationships with others or have avoided certain professional goals as well. Stopping a BFRB can be life changing; but it is also important to remain vigilant, because the behaviors can return after a very long period of abstinence. Consulting a professional familiar with these behaviors is essential to put an end to them.

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