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What Is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania, otherwise known as Compulsive Hair Pulling, is determined by an overwhelming urge to pull out one’s body hair. While the disorder was thought to be highly uncommon, it has been traced back to 1889. Nonetheless, trichotillomania wasn’t recognised as an actual disorder until 1987.

Today, it’s believed that between 2 – 4% of the Australian population suffer from compulsion. Sufferers of trichotillomania often feel ashamed, embarrassed or guilty about pulling their hair out and commonly keep the disorder hidden from family and friends. It is common for difficulties for compulsive hair pulling to begin in adolescence.

Trichotillomania Therapy - Bayside Psychotherapy

What Are The Symptoms Of Trichotillomania?

Here are a few of the primary symptoms people with trichotillomania suffer:

  • Recurrent Hair Pulling: The consistent urge or need to pull out their hair.
  • Noticeable Hair Loss: Thinning of the eyebrows or eyelashes. Bald patches can appear  on the scalp.
  • Repeatedly Trying To Stop: Constant attempts to break this habit.
  • Tension Before Pulling: Resisting the urge causes an increase in tension, anxiety and depression.
  • Feelings Of Relief: The feeling of relief or satisfaction after hair-pulling.
  • Skin Damage: Continuous pulling can lead to infections, scabs, or scars on the scalp or affected area.

If you suspect you suffer hair pulling or hair loss, we recommend consulting with a member of our team for diagnosis and treatment options.


Trichotillomania Australia Treatment Infographic - Bayside Psychotherapy

What Causes Someone to Suffer Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania can be a strategy that sufferers adopt to deal with stress and anxiety in their lives. Typically individuals report some short term relief from their distress following the hair removal ritual. Trichotillomania may co-occur alongside mood difficulties (i.e., depression) and other body-based repeated behaviours such as nail-biting.

The typical profile of someone with trichotillomania can vary from one sufferer to the next. However, A lot of research suggests a link between early trauma or abuse and developing the disorder. The results of a survey conducted by TLC Trust confirm this; in fact, a significant number of trichotillomania sufferers reported that they had been victims of physical or sexual abuse as children. Of course, this does not apply to everybody.


Trichotillomania Hair Pulling - Bayside Psychotherapy

What Are The Current Treatment Options?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or psychodynamic therapy:

CBT is the most common treatment for trichotillomania and aims to help individuals recognise and understand the triggers behind their hair-pulling disorder. A Cognitive Behavioural Treatment program can teach a person strategies to manage the urge to pull their hair. Habit Reversal Training (HRT) is often used to help control the physical and psychological symptoms.

Psychodynamic therapy on the other hand is deeper, insight oriented aiming to address childhood conflicts and unprocessed memories that may have led to trichotillomania forming.

Joining A Support Group: 

Joining a support group of other people with trichotillomania can be an indispensable source of support, understanding, coping techniques and ways of treating trichotillomania.

Relaxation Techniques:

Methods such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce repetitive behaviours by managing the underlying stress or anxiety that the urge to pull hair causes.

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Seeking Treatment For Hair Pulling With Bayside Psychotherapy

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 Hair Pulling Self Hypnosis recording from our website.

Does Treatment Take Long For Compulsive Hair Pulling?

Treatment response time varies significantly and tends to relate to the quality of the therapeutic relationship and the client’s readiness for change and commitment to change. Naturally, if you have struggled with trichotillomania for some time, it may take some time to fully address these difficulties. Some people find that listening to hypnosis recordings in between sessions may be helpful such as our  Hair Pulling Hypnosis MP3 download.

Call us today on (03) 9557 9113 or use our contact form to find out if we can help you work through the temptation to pull your hair. Your call is completely confidential, and there’s absolutely no obligation.

Treatment is conducted confidentially via secure video conferencing. You can book using our online booking form to get started.

There’s also the option to book an appointment to come in and see us face-to-face at our Highett clinic. 

Note: This information is informative only and is not to be used for diagnosis or substitution of appropriate assessment and/or treatment by a registered practitioner. Information on this page and our entire site should not be construed as implying that our therapists are specialists in treating any condition whatsoever. While some of our therapists may have experience working with people suffering from a specific condition, not all of our therapists do. We do not guarantee any particular level of performance, cure or management of symptoms. Each case is unique and responds differently with collaboration between client and therapist being crucial. Always seek an appropriate assessment from a qualified professional such as a GP, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist or social worker especially if you are acutely distressed.

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