Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs): Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling) and Excoriation (Skin Picking)
BFRBs are a set of behaviors involving one's body such as: hair pulling, skin-picking or nail-biting. As the name (Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior) suggests, these behaviors are recurrent; individuals pull their hair or pick their skin over and over again. Most individuals have made repeated attempts to stop these behaviors without much success. In many cases, the BFRBs leads to unwanted consequences such as thinning of the hair, bald spots, lesions to the skin, or damage to cuticles.
In addition to possible physical damage, BFRBs often lead to significant psychological distress. Individuals experiencing BFRBs may feel ashamed of their behaviors, be bothered by their inability to stop or feel self-conscious about the damage to their hair or body. Many individuals with BFRBs experience depression and anxiety although this is not thought to be the cause of the BFRBs. In fact, these other conditions may be the consequence of the BFRBs.
Initial efforts to treat BFRBs were based on the idea that these behaviors represented an over-learned habit. More recent research has indicated that BFRBs are far more complex than a simple habit. While they may, in part, be related to a habitual pattern of movement, these behaviors also appear to be the result of a variety of other factors such as: sensory stimulation, emotional regulation, environmental triggers and certain patterns of thinking. As such, comprehensive behavioral treatment has been offered to adequately address the multiple factors that lead to and maintain these behaviors. The San Mateo CBT Clinic is proud to offer comprehensive behavioral treatments to address BFRBs such as trichotillomania, excoriation and nail-biting disorder. As always, these treatments are available across the lifespan so that children, adolescents and adults may benefit from them.