Created on August 5, 2017. Last updated on June 21st, 2020 at 08:15 pm
Body-focused repetitive disorders (BFRD) are when a child causes harm to himself or herself through a habit. This can happen when the behavior occurs often or produces physical and/or mental health problems.
That said, most cases of repetitive actions are common, harmless habits and are considered only body-focused repetitive behaviors.
Treatment may be needed for children who experience severe cases of BFRD. Research supports the use of individual behavior therapy – often referred to as habit reversal therapy (HRT) – for chronic hair pulling and thumb sucking. There is some evidence that shows HRT may also be effective for skin picking, cheek biting, and nail biting. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) may be an option for chronic hair pulling and nail biting.
The chart below includes more information on the different evidence-based therapies for BFRD. These therapies have been ranked by the evidence that shows how effective they have been in the treatment of BFRDs.
Unfortunately, because there have not been many studies involving children and adolescents and because of differences between the available studies, health care providers and researchers have not been able to identify a therapy that works well.
That said, experts generally agree that HRT is the most effective treatment for BFRDs. Aside from HRT there are no other credible psychotherapeutic treatments. Habit reversal therapy is often included in cognitive behavior therapy.
|Levels||Trichotillomania||Excoriation||Nail Biting||Cheek Biting||Thumb Sucking|
|None||None||None||None||Behavior Therapy (HRT)|
|Behavior Therapy (HRT)||None||None||None||None|
|Individual CBT||Behavior Therapy (HRT)||Behavior Therapy (HRT)
|Behavior Therapy (HRT)||None|
Tested and Does Not Work
To find out more about how these treatment levels are defined, click here.
Therapies and Terms Defined:
Source(s): Woods, D. W., & Houghton, D. C. (2016). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for pediatric body-focused repetitive behavior disorders. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 45(3), 227-240. http://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2015.1055860