Group therapy for excoriation disorder: Psychodrama versus support therapy

BACKGROUND: Excoriation disorder (ED) is characterized by recurring excoriation of the skin resulting in tissue damage, usually associated with emotional deregulation. Psychotherapy is a valuable treatment; however, no studies emphasize the patients’ interactional aspect, nor the potential benefit of group treatment.

METHODS: We recruited a convenience sample of 38 individuals with ED according to DSM-5 criteria, in which 19 individuals proceeded to treatment, 10 with psychodrama group therapy (PGT), and 9 with support group therapy (SGT) in an open pilot study.

RESULTS: The entire sample presented improvement of skin excoriation on both self-report and clinician rating and improvement of social adjustment; however, there was no difference between groups (ie, time × group interaction). Also, there was no relevant change for anxiety, depression, or emotional regulation throughout treatment. Emotional deregulation was associated with excoriation severity as well as depression, anxiety, and social maladjustment, both at the beginning and end of treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Although both groups showed improvement of skin picking, the results contradict our primary hypothesis that PGT would have a superior efficacy to SGT for patients with ED. The findings encourage future studies of group interventions for ED in larger samples with a focus on emotional regulation enhancement.

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