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What is Habit Reversal Training?

What is Habit Reversal Training?

November 09, 2020

In a clinical setting, Habit Reversal Training is a gold standard of treatment for trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling), dermatillomania (excessive skin picking), onychophagia (chronic nail biting) and other body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). Habit Reversal Training is scientifically proven to help you reduce and take control of your unwanted repetitive behaviors.

But, what is Habit Reversal Training? 

Well, let's start at the start. Before we share what Habit Reversal Training is, let's look at "habits" first. As our NIH Research partner, Dr. Doug Woods, shares, "...the things we do over and over become habits that happen automatically and are hard to control." 

The Habit Loop

For people with hair pulling, skin picking, and nail biting, these behaviors have become automatic - and repeated - responses to triggers. These behaviors do serve a purpose, as coping/soothing mechanisms, but they don't serve us well! When we engage in these behaviors our brain does feel a momentary sense of relief, like a reward, which makes the brain want to do it again. And so we enter The Habit Loop: 

HabitAware - Habit Loop Triangle - Trigger encourages Behavior resulting in a Reward

Habit Reversal Training (HRT) is a way of breaking "The Habit Loop" and undoing these habits, or behaviors. Combining Keen2 with the in-app add-on course, “Retrain Your Brain,” teaches you how to reverse your hair pulling, skin picking, or nail biting "habit."

Using Habit Reversal Training to Stop Hair Pulling, Skin Picking, or Nail Biting

The 3 steps of Habit Reversal Training require practice in order to make progress:
1. Awareness Training: learning to be aware of your behavior, thoughts & feelings 👀
2. Competing Response Training: learning to do something that competes with your behavior as soon as it starts 👊
3. Support Training: getting external - and creating internal - encouragement to do the hard work of reversing your habit. ❤

Keen2's base app delivers on Basic Awareness Training by allowing you to record your specific behavior(s), up to 4, on to the bracelet. When Keen2 senses the recorded movement, it sends a vibration as your reminder to acknowledge the behavior and respond with a healthier intention. With practice you can retrain your brain with this methodology:

HabitAware Keen 2 - How It Works - Record gesture, Get Reminded, Respond with Intention, Retrain Your Brain

HabitAware Keen2 Bracelet - Trichotillomania - In-app Behavior Journal

Keen2's in-app journaling is another tool for self-monitoring, observing and connecting your thoughts and feelings to your unwanted hair pulling, skin picking or nail biting. Reviewing this data will help you gain insights into your top triggers.

 

 

 

 

HabitAware In-app Motivation Module for Keen2 Trichotillomania Dermatillomania Smart Bracelet

The Keen2 app also adds focus to another important element to recovery: MOTIVATION. In addition to our inspiring newsletter & blog, Keen2's NEW app encourages you to lead with your "WHY." 

 

 

 

 

HabitAware Keen2 - Habit Reversal Training - In App Screenshot

Retraining your brain is no easy feat, and we want to make sure that you have every tool that you need to be able to conquer your hair pulling, skin picking, or nail biting.

 Keen2's optional in-app course will guide you through 3 Habit Reversal Training cycles, one for each step:

 

 

 

HabitAware-Habit Reversal Training-Awareness Training Icon

1. You will first learn to become more aware of your behavior through ENHANCED AWARENESS TRAINING: In this training cycle, you can heighten your awareness with two in-app activities.

The first activity asks that you get more clarity on the HOW of your pulling, picking & nail biting. And the second activity, is a game! By playing “Beat Keen,” you’ll show Keen2 that YOU KNOW when you’re about to reach for your “danger zone” - before Keen2 vibrates to make you aware. 

HabitAware-Habit Reversal Training-Competing Response Training Icon

2. You will then learn another behavior that you can do instead of hair pulling, skin picking or nail biting. This is COMPETING RESPONSE TRAINING: In this training cycle, you can learn and practice a new behavior to prevent - or compete with - your unwanted one.

As most BFRB psychologists know, a good competing response must:

  • Prevent the behavior, or make it more difficult
  • Be inconspicuous
  • Be used anywhere, without any additional tools

For HabitAware, a good competing response must also be recognizable by our patented gesture detection process. This allows Keen2 to track your practice of a competing response & encourage your efforts, like any good coach would to ensure your practice makes permanent.

HabitAware-Habit Reversal Training-Support Training Icon

3. You will also need to learn how to feel good about changing your behavior and how to celebrate your progress. We call this SUPPORT TRAINING: We know that the journey of recovery can be exhausting, so we wanted to take Keen2’s “hug on the wrist” a step further and make sure you’re getting the message that you deserve love and care, everyday. Through in-app notifications, we'll help you stay motivated when the going gets tough.

HabitAware Keen2 - New App showing Notification with Supportive Message

Remember, we’re here for you. Keen2 can guide you step by step, to Retrain Your Brain. This system will also give you the chance to practice, practice, practice until these new skills become your go-to replacements for your current unwanted hair pulling, skin picking or nail biting. And if you ever need help, we are just an email away.

So, are YOU "Keen2" reverse your unwanted behavior?

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Thank you @RyanGeller for the header graphic!




Also in HabitAware Blog: Soul Fuel

Mari's Conquers Dermatillomania with HabitAware Keen
Mari's Conquers Dermatillomania with HabitAware Keen

November 25, 2020

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Sarah Conquers Nail Biting with HabitAware Keen
Sarah Conquers Nail Biting with HabitAware Keen

October 20, 2020

"I grew up in a broken home and was moved around a lot as a kid. At age 5, I turned to nail biting as a way to ease my stress. My nails were short, brittle and people always caught me with my hand in my mouth. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and felt stuck in a vicious cycle of self-sabotage. My chronic nail biting made my life grim and dull, which in turn made me shy and afraid to make friends. Sadly, this bad habit followed me into adulthood until I learned about HabitAware Keen..."

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HabitAware receives Phase II National Science Foundation Grant for Novel Mental Health Technology
HabitAware receives Phase II National Science Foundation Grant for Novel Mental Health Technology

October 07, 2020

We are so excited to announce that HabitAware was awarded a $1M two-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II Grant. The approved research and development (R&D) project has the potential to improve HabitAware for people with Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors.

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HabitAware Keen Sizing Guide

Not sure which size is right for you?

It's important that Keen fits snugly. Here's a quick guide to help you decide which bracelet size to order:

(images not to scale)