Habit Reversal training: What it is and its benefits for your mental health

Mariella Arceo

Jan 29, 2023

Habit reversal training (HRT) is a treatment method for certain types of problems, such as tic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, nervous habits such as hair pulling, nail biting and skin picking disorder. The goal of HRT is to replace the bad behavior with a new, more positive one. If you're thinking about trying HRT, read on to learn more about how it works.

What is habit reversal training?
Habit Reversal Training (HRT) is a behavioral technique that incorporates self-awareness and self-management to help individuals stop unwanted repetitive behaviors. The goal of HRT is to use the habit's own cues as prompts for an opposite behavior, thereby “replacing” the original habit and creating a new habit. During HRT, individuals learn to recognize triggers or situations that lead to the unwanted habit as well as how to plan alternative responses.

This highly effective form of therapy teaches patients how to become aware of whats happening in their bodies when faced with potential triggers and provides them with strategies on how to replace undesirable behaviors with healthy alternatives. By helping individuals become more aware of their body's environmental cues, HRT has been seen to improve focus and concentration while reducing anxiety levels.

How does habit reversal training work?
Habit Reversal Training is an evidence-based treatment strategy aimed at helping individuals to break bad habits and replace them with healthier behaviors. It has been successfully applied to problems such as nail biting, hair pulling behaviors, severe tics and skin picking, as well as more specific motor tics, such as facial tics or leg jiggling.

HRT involves recognizing the triggers to the unwanted behavior, developing a plan of action, focusing on positive reinforcement and engaging in problem solving skills. It can also be combined with techniques from other disciplines such as cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness and other behavioral treatments. By utilizing HRT techniques consistently over time, it is possible to break these types of habits and create a healthier lifestyle.

Does habit reversal training really work?
Stories abound of people successfully using Habit Reversal Training (HRT) to manage and eventually break the hold of bad habits. An admitted nail-biter adapted HRT to replace his habit with activities like running his fingers through a beanbag or stroking a stress ball. Over time, the changes he made proved successful as he stopped biting his nails entirely.

Similarly, another client chose HRT as a way to combat unhealthy addictions to overworking and not taking enough breaks for self care. The client created her own customized plan which included things like rewarding herself with an afternoon walk and something special from the store if she managed to do all her scheduled tasks in the allotted time. Those who have been skeptical have found that HRT does work; it just requires time and effort, along with tailored action plans for each individual situation.

How can I get started with habit reversal training?
Habit reversal training (HRT) has proven to be a powerful tool in changing behavior and emotional well-being. To get started with HRT, the first step is to identify the habit and its triggers. Once you’ve identified the habit and its triggers, take a few minutes each day to focus on how you feel when you do that behavior. Reflecting on how the behavior makes you feel can help you recognize how to respond differently in certain situations where the habit occurs. 

Additionally, practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing which can help reduce stress associated with negative behaviors. Finally, commit to consistently replacing the bad habits with positive alternative behaviors – this will be instrumental in breaking old patterns and forming new healthier ones over time.

Habit reversal training might be for you!
Habit Reversal Training has proven to be an effective form of behavioral intervention in both short and long term scenarios. Not only can it help make lasting changes, but it also teaches valuable skills such as increased awareness that can be used beyond the specific habit in question. From nail biting to hair pulling and everything in between, habit reversal training is a tool that everyone should consider when looking for ways to conquer their bad habits.

Through this type of self-directed treatment, individuals have reported significant improvements which suggests that anyone is capable of changing their behaviors with time and patience. Remember, the first step to success is understanding why you have the compulsion to engage in certain activities, followed by developing alternative behaviors that you can use to replace your existing habits. 

If this all sounds too complicated or intimidating – don't worry! At mosaicmindscounseling.com, we provide tailored solutions based on your individual needs. Do not hesitate to reach out if this sounds like something you would benefit from; taking control of your life starts one step at a time!