Hypnosis for hair Pulling – Trichotillomania

Here is an excerpt from an article published in ACTA Paediatrica

Hypnotherapy: an effective treatment modality for trichotillomania*

This study describes a non-pharmacological treatment modality for children with trichotillomania. Three children with trichotillomania were treated using a hypnotherapy technique. All patients were observed in the outpatient clinic for 8 consecutive weeks and subsequently followed for 12–18 months. All children were cooperative in performing the hypnotherapy technique (relaxation/ mental imagery). Two patients reported complete resolution of their complaints after 7–8 weeks and 1 patient after 16 weeks. The latter, reporting recurrence of the complaint after 4 weeks due to stressful school problems, was resolved after successful retreatment over 3 weeks. During a mean follow-up period of 16 months, there were no recurrences. In conclusion, hypnotherapy may be considered as a primary treatment modality for trichotillomania in children without associated emotional disorders.

This is consistent with my experience, as in the more than twenty five years that I’ve been a Clinical Hypnotherapist, of the dozens of cases I’ve treated, from young children through to adults, I have never encountered a case of Hair Pulling that did not respond very well to Hypnotherapy.

  • Cohen, H., Barzilai, A. and Lahat, E. (1999), Hypnotherapy: an effective treatment modality for trichotillomania. Acta Paediatrica, 88: 407–410. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1999.tb01131.x
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Hypnosis for Nail Biting

Nail biting is related to skin picking and hair pulling.  These behaviors are labeled as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders.

Biting often happens when people are in one of two modes. Some nail biters do it in an automatic way, as if they are in some kind of altered state and not really thinking about what they are doing. It’s often when they are engrossed in some other activity at the same time such as talking on the phone or watching TV, etc. For others, their main activity at the time is the actual picking or biting, and they will usually interrupt their other activities to engage in it.

There is a strong commonality seen in the various purposes behind nail biting, skin picking and hair pulling. At a very basic level, these symptoms satisfy an urge. Many report an uncontrollable compulsion to do them. Pulling, picking or biting also seems to deliver a pleasurable or relaxed sensation.

When sufferers feel stressed, doing these things has a kind of soothing effect on their nervous systems and reduces levels of stimulation. On the other hand, when they are bored or inactive, they seem to provide a needed level of stimulation to the nervous system.  This may account for why so many people who dislike doing them find it so hard to give up these behaviors. It simply “feels good” at the time no matter what.

Even if you have more than one of these problems, do not give up on yourself. These symptoms can be overcome if you have the nailbitingmotivation. More important is learning to “de-stigmatize” yourself. You are not crazy, helpless, morally weak or totally out of control, even though you may feel like you are at times. Once you realize that you are just a person who simply happens to have a bad habit, you can make some serious progress.

Hypnosis for nail biting consists of three parts.

First, nail biting is a nervous habit.  So the first part of the therapy is to teach the nail biter how to be more relaxed at all times.  To that end, I have found that traditional hypnosis and Ericksonian hypnosis are usually quite effective. That’s because the very essence of hypnosis is relaxation. The biter can learn to apply several different methods to increase both the relaxed state, as well as his/her overall feeling of relaxation and well-being.

The second part teaches the biter awareness of this unconscious habit. Suggestions are given to the unconscious mind to make the consciousness aware that you are about to bite your nails. Then you get to consciously decide whether or not you are actually going to bite them.

There are also several other powerful hypnosis and NLP techniques. As an example, we can help the client to set up an “Anchor” or trigger so that he/she can momentarily mentally step outside of him/herself. This is an effective method that will effectively relieve the compulsion.

The third part of the hypnotherapy is to eliminate the compulsion to bite.  There are hypnotic techniques that actually program the client with a compulsion to not bite.

With this particular behavior, being realistic is very important.  First, you have practiced the unwanted behavior hundreds or even thousands of times. It is important to accept that the urge to bite your nails will not be overcome in a few days.

Second, you are fighting the fact that biting your nails feels good, and it offers a lot of short-term satisfaction and either stimulation or soothing feelings. It can take time to overcome, but it will be worth it. My experience has shown a number of techniques to be very effective!



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Hypnosis and Hair Pulling

Tim Brunson Phd, writing for the International Hypnosis Research Center, has this to say about Trichotillomania:

Trichotillomania is a learned behavior that is programmed into the patient’s brain during a period in their life when that organ does not have sufficient neo-cortical resources to understand and deal with threats. Therefore, it is somewhat of a defensive reaction that is programmed (i.e. habituated). Should the patient not grow out of it, the resulting neural networks become so strong that they tend to resist any type of intervention.

The psychotherapeutic treatment of trich must address empowerment, self-efficacy, the development of dissociative awareness, and habit replacement. Essentially, they must develop the belief that they can change, awareness of hair pulling incidents, and replace their self-image and habitual behavior. The re-focusing of their mind can help the neural networks associated with the malady to wither and strengthen new pathways.

Hypnotherapy is uniquely suited as an intervention for the treatment of trichotillomania. This is for two primary reasons. First, the essential nature of hypnosis is to bypass resistance to change. This is often referred to as a bypass of pattern resistance, a bypass of the critical faculty, or splitting the symptoms from the cause. However, the primary fact here is that once a trich sufferer becomes an adult, the associated neural patterns are extremely strong and, like any entrenched patterns, they will resist any efforts to change.”

You can read the full article here



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Hypnosis for Hoarding

Clutter, which is often related to procrastination, is a leading cause of disorganization. There are many reasons why people clutter. Some reasons include things such as feeling overwhelmed, and your highest priorities at that time, are somewhere else. Perhaps you just don’t know where to start in removing your clutter.

How many times have you heard yourself say, “I better not throw this away? I might need it someday.” Maybe you feel that you do not have enough space or enough time to take care of the 


problem. It could be that you just do not know where to go for help. If you know that you have a problem with keeping things, you may seek the assistance of a friend or even your spouse, if he or she is positive in helping you and not yelling at you for having it.

There are also many organizations that help people get rid of clutter and organize your life. 

Hoarding is a much more serious form of cluttering. It is the excessive collection of things, along with the person’s inability to discard them. Hoarders often create such cramped living conditions that their homes may be filled to capacity with their things, leaving only narrow pathways that wind through the clutter. 

Hoarding has also been referred to as compulsive hoarding or compulsive hoarding syndrome. It also can be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

The above is an excerpt from a paper titled, ” The Role of Hypnotherapy in Working With Cluttering and Hoarding” By Judith L. Cameron, Ph.D.

Hoarding, as with other Obsesssive  Compulsive Disorder  manifestations, responds well to Hypnotherapy when used to work at the subconscious level to change the way the subconscious expresses its need to regain control of the suffer’s environment and circumstances.

Click here to go to the Conditions page for Hypnotherapy and Hoarding

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Hypnotherapy and Hoarding

Many of us are collectors, and probably even more of us are surrounded by some degree of clutter. These are quite normal situations.

But in some cases, the level of collecting can become a compulsive behavior, to the point where access to parts of the home are restricted by the sheer amount of stuff.

At this level, hoarding can be both a health and a fire risk.

In most cases, hoarding behavior is an effort to impose some degree of control on an environment that the hoarder feels is otherwise out of control.

The process that culminates in obsessive hoarding often begins in teenage years, but can take decades to develop into a serious condition.

Hypnotherapy is highly effective in treating hoarding as the condition is almost always driven by the sufferer’s subconscious attempts to impose control. Continue reading →

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Hypnotherapy and Hair Pulling (Trichotillomania)

Hair pulling, (Trichotillomania), is the most common cause of hair loss in children. First described in 1889, trichotillomania results in alopecia or hair loss, caused by the repeated pulling of one’s hair from, most often the head, followed by the eyelashes and eye brows. But the hair of any part of the body may be pulled and multiple sites may be involved. The individual with trichotillomania will have bald spots on the head or missing eyelashes or eyebrows.

There is an immense amount of embarrassment and denial associated with trichotillomania. It is common for individuals with this disorder to deny their behavior and attempt to hide their hair loss. The hair loss may be disguised by wearing wigs, hats, scarves or hair clips, or by applying make-up or even by tattooing. The act of hair pulling is a private one. Rarely does the hair pulling occur in the presence of another, except for close family members. Because of this fact, social alienation is common in hair pulling.

The hair pulling may occur either when the individual is relaxed or under stress. For some individuals with trichotillomania, certain situations, such as watching TV, lying in bed, or talking on the phone, will trigger the behavior. The individual either may focus intensely on the hair pulling or the pulling may be done unconsciously. Immediately before pulling hair, the individual with trichotillomania feels a mounting tension. This tension is relieved as a hair root is successfully pulled. Since a tingling sensation is felt upon successfully pulling a hair follicle completely from its root, a neurodermatologic connection may reinforce hair pulling as a means of tension relief. When the hair root remains intact and the hair shaft is broken, this sensation is not felt and the patient may repetitively pull hairs until successful. After pulling the hair, patient may carefully examine the hair root, and the hair bulb may be rubbed along the lips for further stimulation. The hairs may be ingested by some patients.

Hypnosis has been used in treatment of childhood trichotillomania with considerable success. The Erickson approach of hypnosis helps the child to substitute hair pulling for a stroking behavior. Other approaches to hypnosis in hair pulling teach the child that he or she has control over events in his or her life, including hair pulling.

In addition, hypnosis is extremely effective both in reducing, and in teaching the child how to self reduce, stress levels that may be a significant contributing factor to the hair pulling.

You can read more here

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Hypnotherapy and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD)

In a paper titled ‘Hypnotically Induced Dissociation (HID) as a strategic intervention for enhancing OCD treatment’*, researchers and authors Joseph Meyerson and Andres Konichezky, describe in detail how the hypnotherapeutic technique HID was used to successfully treat three patients diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD).

The paper concluded, “we found HID to be a powerful therapeutic tool that enhances psychotherapeutic outcomes in the treatment of OCD patients. It can be used hetero-hypnotically and subsequently during patients’ self-hypnotic experiences. Cautious and skilled implementation of HID for OCD patients can help address psychological issues that have been neglected during major parts of the patients’ development, thus facilitating both psychological growth and well being.”

You can read the entire paper here.

* Hypnotically Induced Dissociation (HID) as a strategic intervention for enhancing OCD, Joseph Meyerson and Andres KonichezkyAmerican Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 53:3, January 2011

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