Struggling with Skin Picking, Hair Pulling, or Nail Biting? This Can Help.

By Elizabeth Ernest, LMFT, LCSW

In my experience as a therapist treating Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs), I’ve witnessed the transformative impact of support groups. BFRBs, such as hair pulling (trichotillomania), skin picking (dermatillomania), and nail biting can significantly impact the self-esteem, social interactions, and overall well-being of both children and adults. However, in a supportive group setting, people with BFRBs can find solace, understanding, and practical strategies for managing their condition.

BFRB groups offer a safe space where they can share their experiences without fear of judgment. Here, they realize they are not alone in their struggles. Connecting with peers who face similar challenges can be incredibly empowering. People discover that their experiences are valid and that others understand the urges and impulses they grapple with daily.

One of the most significant benefits of BFRB groups is the sense of belonging they provide. Many people with BFRBs feel isolated and misunderstood, even among friends and family. In group therapy, they find acceptance and camaraderie. They learn that their worth isn’t defined by their condition and that they are valued members of a supportive community.

Moreover, these groups offer invaluable opportunities for skill-building and self-discovery. Through guided discussions, activities, and coping techniques, people learn effective strategies for managing their BFRBs. They acquire tools to identify triggers, cope with urges, and develop healthier habits. Importantly, they gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their condition, which is crucial for long-term recovery.

Beyond learning practical skills, BFRB groups foster emotional growth and resilience. Both children and adults develop empathy and compassion for others, recognizing that everyone faces their own battles. They also learn to advocate for themselves and communicate their needs effectively. These interpersonal skills are not only beneficial for managing BFRBs but also for navigating various aspects of life with confidence and resilience.

As a therapist, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the profound transformations that occur within BFRB groups for kids and adults. I’ve seen shy, withdrawn children blossom into confident individuals who embrace their uniqueness. I’ve watched as adults support and uplift each other, creating bonds that extend far beyond the therapy room. These groups not only provide relief from the symptoms of BFRBs but also instill valuable life skills that serve people well beyond the group’s duration.

If you or your child are struggling with a BFRB, I encourage you to explore the option of joining a support group. You can find one for adults here and another for children and teens here. Whether in-person or online, these groups offer a lifeline for people seeking understanding, connection, and hope. Together, we can empower those with BFRBs to embrace their journey toward healing and self-discovery.