Millions of people suffer from a relatively unknown disorder, compulsive skin picking, also called dermatillomania, amongst other names. Why is this disorder so hidden? It is firstly because of the great shame most sufferers feel, and also because so few doctors and mental health professionals know how to treat it effectively. Medications are not effective against it, and dermatologists’ best advice for those who are ruining their own skin is typically to stop picking. The problem is that those with the disorder want more than anything to stop picking. They try and try to stop picking, but are not able to stop.
As a result, their self-esteem suffers and they become overly focused, not only on the picking, but on what their skin looks like, which only leads to more picking. If left untreated, the picking tends to get worse and worse. In this way and others, skin picking is like an addiction.
Compulsive skin picking can be very serious. It often makes people avoid social situations or miss work. It sometimes strains relationships. It contributes to anxiety and depression. It can even be life-threatening due to the risk of infection.
As a holistic health coach with personal experience suffering and recovering from skin picking, I offer distance-coaching programs to anyone in the world via Skype. In the programs I teach sufferers how to stop, and provide the support, motivation and accountability to do the substantial work required to change such a biologically based, deep-seated behavior.
The work is multifaceted, and includes increasing awareness, implementing habit change techniques and specific strategies particular to each person’s picking habits. It includes balancing the physical body through food and lifestyle changes. Negative thoughts and emotions drive skin picking as well, so we also work to release shame, reduce anxiety, and change self-concept and self-talk about themselves and their picking.
People undergoing a coaching program with me realize drastically reduced amounts of picking, sometimes stopping the picking completely. They experience greatly reduced levels of anxiety, increased happiness, confidence and self-acceptance. They also enjoy side benefits which often include weight loss, increased energy, better sleep, fewer headaches and other health improvements.
My clients say they feel more comfortable working with me than with anyone they have tried unsuccessfully to work with in the past. With the support of my coaching, they transform their lives, going from a place of feeling hopeless and out-of-control to feeling positive and free.
Annette Pasternak, Ph.D., is a certified holistic health coach specializing in skin picking and related behaviors. She is the author of “Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop”. Contact her through her website www.stopskinpickingcoach.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @AnnetteP333.