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Trichotillomania Treatment

Trichotillomania (or “Trich”) also known as Hair Pulling Disorder involves repetitive pulling out of the hair from one’s scalp, face or anywhere on the body resulting in hair loss. It is a self-grooming behaviour in which people pull their hair. Some people ingest the pulled hair or part of the pulled hair. Trichotillomania usually begins in late childhood or early puberty however it can begin at any age including early childhood. In childhood, it occurs about equally in boys and girls. By adulthood, 80-90% of reported incidents are women. Hair pulling varies in its severity, location on the body, and response to treatment. Without treatment, trichotillomania tends to be a chronic condition that can come and go over the course of one’s life. It can cause intense distress and shame as it can result in significant hair loss which one attempts to camouflage. Due to shame and embarrassment, individuals not only try to cover up the effects of trichotillomania but may avoid activities and social situations which may lead them to feel vulnerable to being discovered. Hair pulling can lead to tension and strained relationships with family members and friends who might also benefit from professional help.

There are times when hair pulling occurs in an intentional manner and also in an automatic manner in which the individual is less aware. Many individuals report noticeable sensations before, during and after pulling. A wide range of emotions, spanning from boredom to anxiety, frustration, and depression can affect hair pulling as can their thoughts, beliefs, and values.

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is the treatment of choice for Trichotillomania. It focuses on identifying thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that are problematic and teaches individuals how to change these elements to lead to reduced stress and more productive functioning. Treatment can help you identify and examine distorted beliefs you may have in relation to hair pulling. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can help you learn to accept your hair-pulling urges without acting on them. Individuals are asked to experience negative emotions that come before or after pulling as events to be observed without judgment rather than as events that must be acted upon. People with Trichotillomania often have other important life issues to discuss in therapy. Many sufferers experience shame, isolation and low self-esteem as a result of coping with their Trichotillomania. These issues are equally important to address in treatment as is the pulling behaviours.

While the main treatment for trichotillomania is cognitive behaviour therapy, some medications may help control certain symptoms of Trichotillomania. Medications are often used to lessen feelings or sensations that can increase pulling rather than to treat the disorder itself. Some research has suggested that taking medications temporarily allows individuals to make better use of behavioural techniques that would otherwise not have been as helpful.


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Memberships & Accreditations

Active member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies

Certified Diplomate with the Academy of Cognitive Therapy

Certified Cognitive Behaviour Therapist by the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies

Active member of the International Association for Cognitive Psychotherapy

Active member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Affiliate member of the European Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies

Active member of the International OCD Foundation

Certificate of completion of the Behaviour Therapy Training Institute for OCD 2017 offered by the International OCD Foundation Training Institute

Active member of the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors

Active member of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science

What if I am not sure if CBT therapy is right for me?

Remember that you do not need to commit to a minimum number of sessions. read more

How can I maximize my gains during therapy?

Prepare for each session with an agenda of what you wish to discuss during each session. read more