Awareness training for habit reversal

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author/source: DrB

Our 12 year old patient was delighted when her previously troublesome chronic eczema quickly cleared using The Combined Approach. We asked her what part of the treatment programme had been most important for her.

“Becoming aware of what I was doing!” she replied. She had been using her tally counter to count her scratching for five weeks - during the first week without habit reversal, then with habit reversal and optimal topical treatment for four more weeks.

When she had first come with her mother to meet us, we had explained how any habit starts. If anything is repeated often enough, it can become a habit: then doing it becomes what is called “second nature” to us. 

We learn something, and once learnt, it becomes a habit and it can happen automatically, without thinking, sometimes prompted by times, situations, activities or frames of mind. We do not notice what is happening - neither do those around us, if they too get used to what is happening. 

This way of getting into a habit of doing something is a really useful trick our mind is able to help us with. With regular practice we get good at doing something - and then we discover we can do it even while we are thinking about something else: clever!  

This is great for good habits. But if a habit is causing problems, it may need unlearning. This is where habit reversal comes in.

And the first thing with habit reversal is to bring the habit back into awareness. Only then can we learn a good replacement - and this can happen quite quickly, if the results please us. 

Awareness training: the first important step for success in habit reversal.

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Reference

Habit reversal therapy quickly and significantly contributes to the management of children with atopic eczema

Bewley, A (2018) British Journal of Dermatology 178, 583–594