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Last Updated on : 15th Feb, 2016
 
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Body-focused Repetitive Disorders in Youth

“Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) are habits directed at one’s own body. When such behaviors occur at a high frequency or intensity, they can produce physical and or psychosocial problems. If BFRBs result in impairment, they can be considered BFRB disorders (BFRBDs). There are several BFRBDs that have received scientific study. These include chronic hair pulling (trichotillomania), skin picking (excoriation disorder), nail biting (onychophagia), cheek biting, and thumb sucking...In most cases, BFRBs are common, harmless habits....”
Woods and Houghton, (in press, Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology)

However, in severe cases that involve significant impairment, treatment may be warranted. Fortunately, there is some evidence to support the use of individual behavior therapy for trichotillomania and thumb sucking and emerging though still tentative evidence to support its use for excoriation, cheek biting, and nail biting. CBT has also demonstrated some early evidence for trichotillomania and nail biting. More details are available in the table.

Treatments for Habit Disorders in Youth
 

Levels Trichotillomania Excoriation Nail Biting Cheek Biting Thumb Sucking
Level 1: Works Well
What does this mean?
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
Level 2: Works
What does this mean?
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • Individual Behavior Therapy
Level 3: Might Work
What does this mean?
  • Individual Behavior Therapy
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
Level 4: Experimental
  • Individual CBT
  • Individual Behavior Therapy
  • Individual Behavior Therapy
  • Multicomponent CBT
  • Individual Behavior Therapy
  • None
Level 5: Tested and does not Work
  • Individual Massed Negative Practice
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None

Note: CBT = Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Source: Woods, D. W., & Houghton, D. C. (2016). Evidence-Based Psychosocial Treatments for Pediatric Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior Disorders. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, http://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2015.1055860

 
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