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How to Help Your Client with Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors through CBT

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Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) encompass a group of complex mental health conditions characterized by repetitive and compulsive self-grooming or body-focused habits.

These behaviors, such as hair-pulling (trichotillomania) and skin-picking (excoriation disorder), can lead to physical and emotional distress.

For individuals struggling with BFRBs, managing these behaviors can be challenging. However, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has shown promising results in helping individuals with BFRBs develop healthier coping strategies and reduce their repetitive habits.

As a CBT coach, you have the unique opportunity to guide your client towards understanding and managing their BFRBs in a supportive and empathetic manner. In this article, we will explore how you can support your clients with BFRBs through the application of CBT techniques.

Understanding Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors:

The first step in helping your client is to gain a comprehensive understanding of BFRBs and their impact on their life. BFRBs are often rooted in stress, anxiety, or emotional distress, leading to the repetitive behaviors as a way to cope. Be empathetic and non-judgmental, creating a safe space for your client to share their experiences and emotions related to their BFRBs.


Educate your client about BFRBs to destigmatize their experiences and reduce feelings of shame or embarrassment. Help them understand that BFRBs are recognized mental health conditions that can be effectively managed with appropriate support.

Identifying Triggers and Patterns:

Assist your client in identifying triggers and patterns that lead to their BFRBs. Common triggers may include stress, anxiety, boredom, or specific situations. Use cognitive restructuring to challenge thoughts related to these triggers.

Habit Reversal Training:

Habit Reversal Training (HRT) is a core component of CBT for BFRBs. Help your client develop awareness of their repetitive behaviors and substitute them with more positive and non-harmful actions.

Stress Management Techniques:

Teach stress management techniques to help your client cope with emotional and situational stressors that may contribute to their BFRBs.

Creating a Supportive Environment:

Address the importance of a supportive environment in the recovery process. Encourage your client to seek support from family, friends, or support groups who can provide understanding and encouragement.

Setting Realistic Goals:

Collaborate with your client to set realistic and achievable goals related to reducing their BFRBs. Recognise how well they’re doing, to maintain motivation.

Mindfulness and Distractions:

Teach mindfulness techniques to help your client develop a non-judgmental awareness of their urges and impulses related to BFRBs. Encourage the use of distractions to redirect their focus away from engaging in repetitive behaviors.

Addressing Emotional Triggers:

BFRBs can often be linked to emotional distress. Explore and address emotional triggers that contribute to repetitive behaviors. Develop coping strategies to manage emotions in a healthier way.


Encourage your client to practice self-compassion and treat themselves with kindness during challenging moments. Self-compassion can reduce self-criticism and foster a sense of acceptance.

Seeking Professional Help:

Acknowledge that BFRBs often require professional intervention. Be prepared to provide information about therapists experienced in treating BFRBs through CBT.

Developing a Relapse Prevention Plan:

Help your client develop a relapse prevention plan to maintain progress beyond the treatment period. A plan can include coping strategies for potential triggers and maintaining awareness of BFRBs.

Addressing Perfectionism:

Individuals with BFRBs may struggle with perfectionism, leading to heightened stress and anxiety. Challenge perfectionistic tendencies and foster a more flexible and self-accepting mindset.


As a CBT coach, your guidance can significantly impact your client’s journey towards managing their Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors more effectively. By employing habit reversal training, stress management techniques, and mindfulness, you can empower your clients to break free from the repetitive behaviors and improve their emotional well-being. Celebrate their progress and acknowledge their courage in facing the challenges of BFRBs. With your compassionate approach and the transformative power of CBT, your clients can find hope, stability, and a path towards healthier coping strategies and overall well-being.

To succeed in attracting clients, join our CBT Practitioner Diploma course. Get more information here: https://inst.org/cbt-training-course/


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