Habit Reversal Training (HRT)

What is Habit Reversal Training (HRT)?

HRT is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) intervention based on the idea that, by learning a new and more adaptive response to something, an individual can replace the old and maladaptive behaviour and overcome unwanted habits.

What does it look like?

With the aim of reversing unwanted and dysfunctional habits, HRT focuses on five main areas. Awareness training will teach you to develop an awareness of your habit by recognising when and where the behaviour usually occurs, and what the warning signs are that the behaviour is about to occur. Completing response training involves working with your psychologist to develop a new and more adaptive behaviour to replace the old, maladaptive one with. In the motivation and compliance stage, your psychologist will help you to become more aware of the problems and consequences associated with the unwanted habit, and potentially encourage family and friends to help encourage you to beat the behaviour.

Relaxation training will involve learning and practicing relaxation skills such as deep breathing, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, and mental imagery. Finally, generalisation training will help you to practice your new skills in different situations to it becomes automatic. HRT is typically provided over 8-14 weekly or fortnightly 50-minute sessions (or however many sessions you require) and can be used in combination with other interventions.

How effective is it?

HRT is the gold standard treatment for many disorders, including trichotillomania (compulsive hair puling), dermatillomania (excessive skin picking), onychophagia (chronic nail biting), temporomandibular disorder (TMD), morsicatio buccarum (lip-cheek biting), tic disorders, Tourette Syndrome, and other body-focused repetitive behaviours (BFRBs). This means that it is a highly effective and recommended treatment for these disorders. It is an evidence-based way to break free from unwanted repetitive behaviours.