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How To Stop Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors

By Dr. Ori Shinar

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As you’ve probably guessed, this is going to be an article about how to stop body focused repetitive behaviors.

Body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) are a collection of habits and behaviors that cause physical damage to the body.

These types of behaviors can range from skin picking, nail biting, hair pulling, and more.

BFRBs can be incredibly hard to stop and often have devastating effects both physically and emotionally.

Despite this difficulty, there are ways in which an individual can work towards stopping their BFRB.

how to stop body focused repetitive behaviors

Definition of BFRBs

Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors, or BFRBs for short, are a group of disorders that involve repetitive self-grooming behaviors.

These behaviors can often lead to damage to the skin and hair, and they can sometimes interfere with daily life.

Examples of BFRBs include trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder), dermatillomania (skin picking disorder), and onychophagia (nail biting).

If you or someone you know struggles with BFRBs, it is important to seek out professional help as soon as possible.

Treatment options may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

Additionally, there are several things that you can do at home to help manage your symptoms.

More on that a bit later.

homer stress hair

Causes of BFRBs

Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) are a group of disorders that involve self-grooming or self-injurious habits.

These habits can become seemingly irresistible and can lead to significant distress and functional impairment.

There is still much to be learned about the causes of these conditions.

However, research has shown that both genetic and environmental factors play a role.

One possible cause of BFRBs is genetics.

Studies have shown that people with first-degree relatives who have BFRBs are more likely to develop these behaviors themselves.

Researchers have also identified several genes that may be associated with these conditions.

The exact mechanisms by which they contribute to BFRBs are not yet clear though.

Another potential cause of BFRBs is environmental factors such as stress or trauma.

kermit stress nail

Treatment Options

Body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) can be challenging to deal with.

These behaviors refer to actions that individuals do repetitively without even realizing it.

These actions are typically things like nail-biting, hair-pulling, and skin-picking.

They can have a significant impact on one’s physical and psychological well-being.

However, there are several treatment options that people can use to stop these behaviors.

And people do get better all the time!

One of the most common treatments for BFRBs is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

This type of therapy helps individuals understand their triggers and develop strategies to manage them effectively.

It also teaches self-monitoring techniques that allow individuals to track their behavior patterns and replace negative habits with positive ones.

CBT may involve individual or group sessions with a trained therapist who specializes in treating BFRBs.

More on CBT in a minute.

how to stop body focused repetitive behaviors

Habit Reversal Training (HRT)

Another effective treatment option for BFRBs is habit reversal training (HRT).

Habit Reversal Training (HRT) is a behavioral therapy designed to help people stop body-focused repetitive behaviors.

These behaviors include hair pulling, skin picking, and nail biting.

HRT focuses on teaching individuals how to recognize the triggers that lead to these behaviors and how to replace them with healthier habits.

The goal of this therapy is to empower individuals by giving them the tools they need to manage their behavior and ultimately achieve a better quality of life.

The first step in HRT is identifying the specific body-focused repetitive behavior that needs to be addressed.

Once identified, patients work with a therapist or coach who will teach them techniques for recognizing when they are engaging in the behavior.

Then they work on providing alternative activities that can replace it.

how to stop body focused repetitive behaviors

Self-Help Strategies

Fortunately, there are several self-help strategies that you can use to stop these behaviors.

One strategy is to identify triggers for the behavior.

This can help you recognize when you are most likely to engage in BFRBs.

Then you can develop strategies for avoiding those situations.

Another strategy is to replace the behavior with a positive one.

One example of that is squeezing a stress ball or chewing gum instead of biting your nails.

Additionally, practicing mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can help you reduce your anxiety.

Mindfulness practice is also known to decrease the urge to engage in BFRBs.

It is often helpful for individuals struggling with BFRBs to seek support from friends, family members or professionals.

One more useful tip for managing BFRBs is to keep your hands busy with other activities when you feel the urge to engage in these behaviors.

how to stop body focused repetitive behaviors

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

And we’re back to CBT, a house specialty. 🙂

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that has been effective in treating various mental health conditions.

One of its applications is to help individuals who are struggling with Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs).

These behaviors include (but are not limited to) hair pulling, skin picking, and nail biting.

CBT can provide a structured and comprehensive approach to stop these habits.

The first step in using CBT to overcome BFRBs is identifying the triggers for the behavior.

The triggers may be physical sensations, emotional states or environmental factors.

Once identified, the therapist will work with the individual to develop coping mechanisms.

They can then use those coping mechanisms when they experience these triggers.

For example, An individual might experience anxiety before pulling their hair out.

In that case, they may learn relaxation techniques or breathing exercises to manage their anxiety.

mental health

Support Groups

Support groups can be an excellent resource for individuals struggling with body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs).

They provide a safe space where you can share your experiences. 

You can also seek advice from others who are facing similar challenges.

In group sessions, members often discuss different techniques and strategies that have worked for them in managing their impulses.

Group facilitators may also offer guidance on coping mechanisms that you can use when faced with triggers or stressful situations.

By participating in support groups regularly, you’ll be able to build a network of like-minded individuals who can offer encouragement and motivation along the way.

You’re obviously looking for ways to stop BFRBs.

So joining a support group could be a step in the right direction.

therapy circle group

It’s Gonna Be OK

Body-focused repetitive behaviors can have a negative impact on an individual’s life.

This, of course, can also lead to physical and emotional complications.

However, it is important to recognize that with the right help, you can learn how to stop body focused repetitive behaviors.

By understanding the underlying causes of BFRBs, seeking professional help and utilizing strategies such as mindfulness and stress relief techniques, you can achieve a successful recovery.

With the proper guidance, anyone suffering from BFRBs can transition to a healthier lifestyle.

Schedule an appointment with dr ori

Are you ready to start living fully?

To learn more about individual therapy schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation and we’ll help determine if our services are a good fit for you.

Schedule an appointment with dr ori

Are you ready to start living fully?

To learn more about individual therapy schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation and we’ll help determine if our services are a good fit for you.

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