Nail-biting is hardly a life-threatening bad habit, but it can still take a toll — marrying the image you present to the world and even permanently disfiguring your fingers. Not only that, but it is likely to be a manifestation of poorly managed anxiety or stress that you would be better off addressing.

Individuals develop problems with Onychophagia, or excessive chewing on the nails and fingertips, for different reasons. For some nail biters, generalised anxiety acts like the psychological glue that makes the habit stick. Chewing their nails while under pressure becomes an unconscious action that they hardly even notice. For others, pain or anxiety pushed down out of awareness are the driving forces behind the behaviour, with immediate triggers harder to predict.

However, neither scenario represents a positive way of handling feelings — and compulsive nail biting can result in frustration and embarrassment.

Multiple failed attempts to stop chewing your nails mean the techniques you’re using haven’t been able to change the part of the mind that compels you to do it in the first place. Constant failure and feeling out of control can also lead to lowered self-esteem.

The good news is, no matter how deeply ingrained your nail nibbling habit is, or and how many times you’ve tried to stop, you have the potential to break it.

The trained therapists at Bayside Psychotherapy possess the tools that may help you to stop chewing your nails; with counselling and habit-breaking hypnotherapy. They may work with you to find the reasons behind your habit and have the ability to teach you strategies to put you back in control. We may be able to help you face-to-face in our Highett clinic in Melbourne or from the comfort of your own home via secure online sessions.

Don’t be shown up by sore, raggedy, fingertips.

Do you have any questions for us? Get in touch with us through our online contact form.

Call Bayside Psychotherapy on (03) 9557 9113 to find out if we’re able to help you. Your call is completely confidential, and there’s absolutely no obligation.

You can also book an appointment by using our online booking form for online appointments. Or, if you prefer, you can book an in-clinic session.

Self-hypnosis may also work well when used in conjunction with counselling. You can download our Nail-Biting Self Hypnosis recording from our website.

Frequently Asked Questions

It's not always sure why someone develops the habit of biting nails. However, it typically stems from childhood and may accelerate during adolescence. 

People who excessively bite their nails typically do it out of impatience, frustration or boredom. Although, nail-biting can also occur during moments of intense concentration while stressed or anxious. 

Nail-biting can also be associated with mental health conditions: obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and Tourette's syndrome. 

At Bayside Psychotherapy, we use a tailored approach to treatment, rather than one-size-fits-all band-aid solutions. After the first consultation, our therapist's design customised programs to suit clients’ needs, and evaluate their progress regularly to make sure it’s having an effect.

Our experienced counsellors have training in a variety of counselling methods, including psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, NLP, mindfulness therapy and Buddhist psychotherapy. They may choose from a wide range of tools to help you work on both the conscious and unconscious levels of your mind, which possibly gives you a better chance of lasting success.

Hypnotherapy is a popular treatment for nail-biting, possibly because people think it will deliver a quick fix. However, it may be more effective to make a deeper exploration of the issues underlying bad habits through counselling and psychotherapy. Our aim is to find the best methods for you, so you may discover lasting inner peace and outer composure unmarred by this annoying habit.

It’s natural to want short term treatment especially since nail biting is regarded as just a minor and inconsequential vice. But everyone’s personal history is unique, and everyone responds to therapy differently. Some clients may find significant relief from nail-biting after just a few sessions, while others may need more time. You may find that addressing this ‘visible’ symptom of anxiety has more expansive positive effects on your mental health. If nail biting is serving a purpose as an outlet for something buried in your subconscious, it may take longer to tease out the cause and effect by analysing unconscious formations like dreams, slips of the tongue and other unconscious patterns.

If you prefer to begin immediately, we suggest downloading our self-hypnosis MP3 recording for nail-biting, which may also enhance the effects of your therapy sessions.

The social cost of nail-biting is real, and not addressing compulsive stress-related habits can mean they cause more problems over time.

Is it time for you to seek help?

Contact us for more details by calling (03) 9557 9113 to make a confidential face-to-face or online appointment here.

Note Whilst we will do our best to assist you, we rely on our clients’ full commitment to and participation in the treatment process to optimise results. Although some of our therapists work with people presenting with trauma, no guarantees of any outcomes can be made.

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Therapists who do online

  • Adam Szmerling
  • Carolina Selvarajoo
  • Humaira Ansari
  • Kelli Tranter
  • Lawrence Akers
  • Natalie Szmerling

Therapists who do in-clinic

  • Adam Szmerling
  • Natalie Szmerling