For many people skin picking disorder is a cycle of picking-to-remove-imperfection, only to perpetuate further imperfection. This impervious cycle of skin damage makes it incredibly difficult for the individual to stop picking as the urge to pick at the skin while it is still healing is too strong to resist. One blogger known as dermagirl recently blogged about the difficulty she has not stop picking despite identifying strong motivations for stopping. However she also goes on to acknowledge that even though she still picks daily, she has made a lot of progress over the last few years. In this blog, dermagirl talks about acceptance and how this is an important concept to embrace when skin pickng is a daily struggle.
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On this website we offer an online therapy program based on cognitive beahvior therapy (CBT) principles, and one of the techniques taught is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). ACT is about getting to know unpleasant feelings, then learning not to act upon them, and to not avoid situations where they are invoked. Its therapeutic effect is based on the theory that removing the negative connotations around our thoughts, opens us up to be more committed to behavior change strategies. While the ultimate goal of the program is to stop picking, the reality is that this is a disorder that is managed, not cured. And while we have had huge success with those who have completed the program, it is important to remember that the the goal should not only be to stop picking but to develop the skills to sustain the management of the condition over time. Similar to addictions, even when the individual is able to overcome the addiction, it is a life long struggle, which will always be vulnerable to stressful life events over time. Acceptance in ACT is not about condoning the act of picking, but rather acknowledging that the urge exists, that it is something you experience and not something your chose, and that your picking is simply a response to the urge. Skin picking disorder is characterized by intense feelings of guilt and shame about the behavior, which ironically further perpetuates the behavior. Many of the clients who have completed the online therapy program have expressed that learning how to be aware of, and accept the feelings that lead to picking, and reframing thoughts/urges as opposed to struggling to resist the urges was the most valuable learning they had gained.
Perfection is a phantom goal we all strive for. But nobody is perfect, and as dermagirl concludes in her blog, that's OKAY! When we are able to accept our flaws and imperfections as part of who we all are as unique human beings, we have half the battle won!