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Habit Reversal Tip #6: Claws to Paws

author/source: DrB



Using The Combined Approach for Adults and Older Children, the first habit reversal tactic to practise is making fists with the hands, that would otherwise be used for scratching. The lightly clenched fists are then held still, perhaps with the arms extended down and away from the body, for thirty seconds.

It may help to think how the nails ot the hands are potential weapons, weapons of skin destruction!

A cat uses its claws to fight with: they are the cat's weapons. But a cat can retract its nails into the paws, neutralising the claws. The paws are soft to touch, and safe! Claws to paws.

By making light fists we achieve the same result, neutralising the weapons. Closing the thumb down on the fist "applies the safety catch".

Original drawing with permission from Dr Peter Norén


And holding the hands still, down and away from the body is "adopting the position ... the healing position".

If, having held the position for thirty seconds, there is no itch, there is no more to do ... until the next urge to scratch. 
If after thirty seconds there is an itch, the itchy place is lightly pinched, or pressed with a nail (see below) until the itch has gone. It always goes, but can come back! If so, the procedure is repeated, as often as necessary.

Original drawing with permission from Dr Peter Norén

This is a simple but effective habit reversal tactic for tackling habitual scratching.