Behavior Modification — founded in the science of behaviorism — is a treatment modality aimed at modifying an person’s behaviors and reactions to experiences and stimuli. By reinforcing positive behavior, and disapproving negative behavior, a person undergoing Behavior Modification treatment learns to stop the undesired behavior.
Anyone with children understands how this technique works:
- Encourage good behavior, discourage bad
- Reward good behavior, punish bad
- Get a timeout — or a treat
Its that simple, right?
Not when dealing with an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder such as Dermatillomania or Compulsive Skin Picking. Effective Behavior Modification for compulsive finger pickers starts with the ABCs of behaviorism:
Training yourself to ask…
- “What happens before the behavior?” (A)
- “What is the behavior?” (B)
- “What happens right after the behavior?” (C)
…in a methodical way can lead to golden insights about why you pick your fingers and skin. Asking these questions and focusing on the answers can give you concrete behaviors to target when trying to kick the finger picking habit.
Here are some hypothetical answers to these questions:
- Do you have anxiety or nervousness right before you pick? Think about what’s causing that.
- Do you “spacing out” or “tune out” while you pick? Maybe you have difficulty engaging with or relating to other people.
- Do you feel guilty after picking? Maybe you have a self-worth problem stemming from past experiences.
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