AIM to STOP Pulling & trichotillomania

Are you confused about why you keep pulling out your hair?

Trichotillomania is a repetitive behaviour classified as an impulse control disorder, where sufferers pull out individual hairs in order to alleviate anxiety. People affected by trichotillomania can pull out hair in any region of their body, but the most common areas are their scalp, eyebrows, and eyelids (Woods & Houghton, 2014).

It is estimated that between 0.6% to 3.6% of adults suffer from trichotillomania, but it’s likely that this number is higher because people often do not seek treatment for their condition (Woods & Houghton, 2014).

You may be wondering why you keep pulling out hair even though it results in embarrassing bald patches. Perhaps you’ve tried to stop pulling, but you end up feeling even more anxious. This continuous cycle of pulling and shame can be one of the most frustrating aspects of trichotillomania.


Many trichotillomania sufferers cannot name the exact moment they began pulling, but it is often associated with times of immense emotional upheaval or instability in life (Houghton, Mathew, Twohig, Saunders, Franklin, Compton, Neil-Barnett & Woods, 2016).

The act of pulling hair can feel like a sense of relief from tension and anxiety. Over time the amount of hair being pulled increases, and the relief experienced diminishes, causing the sufferer to increase their hair pulling behaviour. In many cases the pulling and hair loss creates additional anxiety, increasing the urge to pull, and creating an addictive behaviour cycle. This cycle results in additional trauma, anxiety and pain (Houghton et al., 2016).


At Aim Hypnotherapy & Counselling our approach to treating trichotillomania is based on scientific research and practical expertise.

Studies support the use of clinical hypnotherapy as an effective technique for reducing hair pulling and increasing emotion regulation in people suffering from trichotillomania (Shenefelt, 2017)(Cohen, Barzilai & Lahat, 1992). Our treatment of trichotillomania uses habit-reversal therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy, to help change behaviour and put in place healthier ways of reducing anxiety. The sensation of hypnosis can be a transformational experience, as it allows people to experience their body and mind in new and life changing ways.

At Aim we support clients by taking the time to understand the underlying causes of anxiety and stress throughout their lives. Our first step creates safety and understanding through compassionate one-on-one counselling. Here we will explore your experience of past events in order to better understand what has contributed to your anxious thoughts, feelings and harmful behaviours. By taking the time to understand your unique experiences we are then
able to provide treatment that is personalized and effective.

The second step in our approach involves providing a safe and empowering hypnosis session. Similar to the experience of daydreaming, our clients often describe hypnosis as a 'highly relaxed and focused state of calm', which provides an opportunity to increase resilience and lower physical and emotional reactions to stress. Through the practice of hypnosis, clients can learn how to regulate their emotional reactions and make beneficial behaviour changes.

At Aim Hypnotherapy & Counselling, our two-step approach to treating trichotilomania delivers positive and lasting change. If you are ready to see how this approach can help you or have any questions please contact us for more information.


- Cohen, H., Barzilai, A., & Lahat, E. (1999). Hypnotherapy: an effective treatment modality for trichotillomania. Acta Paediatrica (Oslo, Norway: 1992), 88(4), 407-410. DOI: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1999.tb01131.x.

- Houghton, D. C., Mathew, A. S., Twohig, M. P., Saunders, S. M., Franklin, M. E., Compton, S. N., Neil-Barnett, A.M., Woods, D. W. (2016). Trauma and trichotillomania: A tenuous relationship. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 11, 91-95. DOI: 10.1016/j.jocrd.2016.09.003.

- Shenefelt, P.D. (2017). Use of hypnosis, meditation, and biofeedback in dermatology. Clinics in Dermatology 35:3, pages 285-291.

- Woods, D.W., & Houghton, D.C. (2014). Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Management of Trichotillomania. Psychiatric Clinics of North America.37(3),301-317. DOI: 10.1016/j.psc.2014.05.005.