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Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling)

Are you struggling with hair pulling? Trichotillomania treatment can help

Hair-pulling (aka trichotillomania) is a behavior that is not known or understood by most doctors. Needless to say, implementing a cookie-cutter approach in treating hair pulling will yield little or no improvement in the people treated by non-experts.

Each person has a different motivation behind their pulling behavior, and treatment needs to help people who engage in this body-focused repetitive behavior to take control over their urges.

Hair pulling - Trichotillomania

What is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania is characterized by repetitive pulling out of one’s hair (from the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or elsewhere on the body). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association, trichotillomania is defined as meeting the following five criteria: 

  • Recurrent pulling out of one’s hair, resulting in hair loss. 
  • Repeated attempts to decrease or stop hair pulling
  • The hair pulling causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. 
  • The hair pulling or hair loss is not attributable to another medical condition (e.g., a dermatological condition). 
  • The hair pulling is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., attempts to improve a perceived defect or flaw in appearance in body dysmorphic disorder).

*The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems “ICD-10) contains codes for trichotillomania and skin picking disorder. We favor the criteria and description used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Hair pull - Trichotillomania

What does Treatment for Trichotillomania look like?

The most important thing that a person can do to address a BFRB is first to become knowledgeable about the problem and its treatment. A psychotherapy approach called cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is the treatment of choice for BFRBs. Existing studies suggest that CBT is superior to medication in treatment outcomes.

However, some individuals may need medication first or in conjunction with CBT if there is an underlying or comorbid psychiatric diagnosis (i.e., depression, anxiety, ADHD) that may be triggering more urges to pull. 

Cognitive Behavior Therapy CBT is a therapeutic approach that focuses on identifying thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are problematic and teaches individuals how to change these elements to lead to reduced stress and more productive functioning. An emphasis is placed on matching the treatment to the unique symptoms of the individual.

There are a number of different treatment approaches for BFRBs that fall under the umbrella of CBT: habit reversal training (HRT) and comprehensive behavioral treatment (ComB).

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are two treatment approaches that may bolster the effectiveness of other cognitive behavior therapies.

Habit Reversal Training Habit reversal training (HRT) is an early treatment for BFRBs developed in the 1970s by Nathan Azrin and Gregory Nunn.

Are you concerned about your hair pulling?

Take our free and confidential test to help you assess whether or not you exhibit any signs of Trichotillomania.

cbt for hair pulling in nyc

What is HRT for Tichotillomania?

HRT is the method that has been examined most in research studies. HRT has a varying number of components in its treatment package. The three components that are considered most critical are awareness training, competing response training, and social support. 

Awareness Training

Awareness training consists of helping the person focus on the circumstances during which pulling is most likely to occur. This enables individuals to become more aware of the likelihood that the behavior will occur, and therefore provides opportunities for employing therapeutic techniques designed to discourage performance of problem behaviors.

Competing Response Training

Competing response training teaches the individual to substitute another response for the pulling behavior that is incompatible with the BFRB. For example, when an individual experiences an urge to pull, he/she would ball up their hands into fists and tighten their arm muscles and “lock” their arms so as to make pulling or picking impossible at that moment. This response is to be repeated each time that individual experiences an urge to pull or pick or when faced with a situation where pulling or picking is likely to occur. 

Social Support

Social support involves bringing loved ones and family members into the therapy process in order to provide positive feedback when the individual engages in competing responses. They may also cue the person to employ these strategies and provide encouragement and reminders when the individual is in a trigger situation. 

The research literature encourages using HRT for short-term improvement; however, professionals and sufferers have found that when used by itself, achieving long-term improvement in symptoms is much more difficult.  Whether we are setting personal goals of losing weight, changing eating habits, smoking cessation, or committing to exercise 4x a week, we as humans all perform MUCH better when we have a coach, trainer, friend, romantic partner, or therapist to be accountable to. 

Working with an expert in the area of TTM treatment increases your success rate dramatically.  Dr. Ori has been in practice for over two decades and has successfully treated thousands of Trichotillomania sufferers.   

Trichotillomania Treatment by the Numbers


 of clients see a 50% reduction of symptoms within 3 weeks.


of clients see a two-thirds reduction of symptoms within 8 weeks.


of clients are able to be pull or pick free by the end of treatment with Dr. Ori

What is the goal of Trichotillomania treatment?

The goal of weekly treatment is to reduce your hair pulling behaviors and replace them with healthier alternatives.  With those who are highly motivated, significant improvements can be seen within the first couple of months of treatment.  Most clients will reduce pulling behaviors by 50% in the first month and up to 75% in the second month of treatment. 

Clients typically find that the final handful of pulls per week are the most stubborn, but once they reach zero pulls for 5-6 consecutive weeks, we can reduce treatment frequency from weekly to biweekly sessions. 

Treatment switches over to “relapse prevention” to help reduce the likelihood of relapse.  If the client continues to be “pull-free,” we reduce to monthly “booster” sessions.

Several clients decide at this point to continue weekly sessions to work on reaching other personal/psychological goals, i.e., anxiety reduction, ADD-related executive function skills, and strategies, depression reduction, social anxiety treatment, career goals, and/or relationship issues.

Hands of a woman in office. Calm. Cropped image of stress free woman

Getting Started is Easy!

You can contact Dr. Ori Shinar via email, phone, or by scheduling a free 15-Min Consultation.

After meeting with him, you will be explained about the logistics of therapy, including his availability, insurance reimbursement, in-person versus online therapy, and finally scheduling your initial (60 minutes) consultation session.

Afterward, weekly (45 minutes) sessions will continue until you meet your therapy goals.

Schedule an appointment with dr ori

Are you ready to start living fully?

To learn more about individual therapy schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation and we’ll help determine if our services are a good fit for you.

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Are you concerned about your hair pulling?

Take our free and confidential test to help you assess whether or not you exhibit any signs of Trichotillomania.