A 25 year old who works as a recruiter for a non-profit organization came to us after a 2-year battle with hair pulling and a long history of nail biting. She would pull her shorter hairs until it created a groove in her nail and then she would chew her nails in an attempt to make them even. She pulled every day and would chew off the bulb of the hair. It took the first 8 sessions to break down her resistance to habit reversal and stimulus control techniques, but by session 9 she reported about one week of no hair pulling and marked improvement in nail biting and stroking her hair . She directly correlated her success to her level of compliance in treatment. By session 13, she reported 100% improvement in nail biting and hair pulling and 80% reduction in her hair touching. It took 4 more sessions for her to be completely stroke-free.
A 30-year-old attorney came to us after struggling with a chronic nail biting habit since she was 3 years old. She reported that it was a self-soothing strategy during tantrums. She tried bitter tasting polishes and tried to will herself to stop but to no avail. The damage was extensive, leaving her with completely exposed nail beds and no nails on any of her fingers. She feared they wouldn’t grow back at all. On sessions 2 and 4, she reported no biting at all those weeks and was feeling very optimistic about her success. By week 7, she felt 90% improved, having been free of nail biting for the last few weeks. By the 8th session, she planned to have her first manicure she has ever had. She graduated treatment with ten well manicured nails.
A 25 year old pre-school teacher had struggled with compulsive skin picking and nail biting for several years. Her behaviors caused significant turbulence in her relationship with her boyfriend because he did not support her going to therapy and felt she should be able to stop these behaviors on her own. She presented with severely scarred skin and had frequent break outs because she constantly touched her face. We were able to track how, when, where and why she picked and she quickly learned how to use habit reversal techniques to gain awareness, control her urge, and sit with the discomfort of the imperfections on her nails and skin. By the 8th session she reported 85% improvement in her skin picking. Within a few months time, she was able to fully eradicate her body focused repetitive behaviors.
A 7 year old girl came to treatment after struggling with trichotillomania and compulsive thumb sucking since she was 6 months old. The young girl pulled at home and in school and made frequent attempts to pull her mother’s hair. She always pulled and thumb sucked simultaneously and heavily relied on these behaviors to help her fall asleep each night. Her parents admitted to losing patience with her behaviors. They had tried several techniques to disable these compulsions, to no avail. Within 2 months time, the habit reversal and stimulus control methods enabled the patient to be completely free of all hair pulling and thumb sucking rituals.