According to the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors, the term body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) describes a group of behaviors thought to be related to anxiety disorders, impulse control disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The behaviors can include hair pulling, skin picking, nail-biting, knuckle cracking, and tooth grinding, to name some.
The question of why people engage in these repetitive behaviors has challenged mental health professionals for many years. While we don’t know the exact reasons or mechanisms for development, we now recognize specific treatments that have been proven effective.
It’s important to mention that professional help should be received from a mental health provider that has been specially trained to treat BFRB’s. This can be the difference between receiving treatment that has little or no impact and treatment that is very helpful.
The biggest treatment recommendation for BFRBs is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps individuals deal with repetitive behaviors by helping them identify the triggers that cause the behavior in the first place. Once the trigger has been identified, therapy focuses on changing the reaction to the trigger, or the behavior.
Another treatment option that may prove effective is called Habit Reversal Training. This therapy helps people recognize their patterns and manage any negative emotions associated with them.
To reiterate, finding a mental health professional who is well-versed in using behavioral science and behavioral interventions is key. When looking for therapists in your local area, be sure they have experience with BFRB treatments. Get on the phone with them and don’t be shy about asking them some questions.
If you or someone you know is suffering from BFRBs and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.