Nail Biting is also known as onychophagia, and is often described as a symptom of anxiety or a nervous habit. Nail biting can result in people being self-conscious about their hands, and in extreme cases can lead to sore and bleeding fingers. Nail biting can also result in transferring bacteria into the mouth, can lead to a skin infection around the nails called paronychia, nail biting damages the teeth by causing shifting, weakening and premature wear.
Recently a study found that nail biting in young people occurred when working on difficult problems or boredom which may reflect a particular emotional state. In reality there are numerous triggers for people to bite their nails. Nail biting is a very common habit and it’s one that is difficult to break because nail biting is comforting to the person doing it and the brain likes to hold on to habits that it believes are providing comfort....
This is the reason why most of the conventional methods of breaking the nail biting habit don’t work, e.g. painting a foul tasting substance on the fingernails. This creates an unpleasant experience and when you have an unpleasant experience, what do you automatically seek? Yes that’s right – comfort. Similarly nagging and criticism are counterproductive, because of course when you feel put -upon or defensive, there will be a desire to seek comfort.
When helping clients to overcome this habit I use Hypnotherapy to help them change their perception of their nails, and to help them create alternative self-soothing mechanisms that are more acceptable to them as well as being kinder to their nails. The key is to recognize that nail biting is not simply a mindless habit, but that it serves a purpose. This purpose may only be understood at a subconscious level, but it is nevertheless a valid purpose. The high intention of the behaviour is to sooth the person, so the trick is in reassigning this instinct so that its intent is still satisfied. Hypnotherapy enables my clients to fast track the implementation of the new habit, because through the hypnotic process they are able to use their imagination to create an experience of having already established the preferred habits. The brain accepts the suggestions that the habit is already in play and implements a new protocol to put into action when a soothing behaviour is required.
Nail biting can be addressed in one session, however if it is one of many symptoms of Anxiety, I recommend a minimum of 3 sessions to address the underlying issues responsible for the Anxiety. For people with chronic Anxiety I have a six session program. I have extensive experience in working with Anxiety and my experience is that for long term change an investment in thorough therapy will pay much greater dividends than a quick band-aid solution, which doesn’t provide for setbacks and filling the resilience skills gaps that are often present.
If you’d like to try Hypnotherapy to resolve your nail biting habit please give me a call on 0435 923 817 or use this contact form.
I’d love to hear your comments about your experience of this issue, please share your experience below.
Hypfocus Therapies for Hypnotherapy Melbourne, Located in Mentone in the South East of
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Georgina Mitchell was born in Ireland, moving to Australia in 1989. Georgina spent many years working in senior management in the Corporate world, before leaving to pursue her passion to become a Therapist.
Please note as with all therapies, Results for Therapies delivered by Hypfocus may vary from person to person