hair pulling

Hair Pulling Hypnosis

Stop Hair Pulling Twirling Trichotillomania Hypnosis

How to stop pulling your hair out

Hypnotherapy is very effective at ending Hair Pulling. This includes hair twirling, hair eating, plucking hairs from your scalp, eyebrows, beard, etc., known as trichotillomania). Hypnotherapy is a quick and usually reliable treatment. There is no need to put up with it any longer. Hypnosis is simple, effective and long lasting.

Hair pulling is a generalized response to stress, and so needs an anti-stress therapy. This consists of teaching you a behaviour to do instead, teaching instant relaxation, optionally teaching the you how to remove the original problems that are causing your stress.

By hypnotizing you into becoming aware of your behaviour, you can end it. You usually only need one session.

Hair pulling Hypnosis

Where does Hair Pulling  come from?

The hair pulling habit is a distraction behaviour. It is a displacement activity to stop you doing or thinking about something else. It started as a response to stress.
People can sometimes stop doing it for weeks or months, but without help, it always starts again. As long as the stress is there, the hair pulling habit will keep starting up again.

Hair Pulling, formally called Trichotillomania, starts originally because at some point the child learned that pulling their hair took their mind off the stressful situation. Then the behaviour began to be repeated every time any stress was encountered. Then it just became a reflex habit. Something you do when you are bored.

Hypnosis for hair pulling normally does not concern itself with identifying the original reason for the stress. For most people, the original stress is long gone. For them, there is little or no psychological aspect to find. It is simply a physical habit that has gone out of control.

Other people, (see the case below) do have a constant source of mental stress that is causing them to pull their hairs out, or bite their nails, pick at their skin, etc. In cases like that, a specialized form of therapy is used.

Ways to end Hair Pulling

Behaviour Substitution

hair pullingFor most people, their hair pulling habit is purely mechanical. There is no current psychological reason for it, so it does not need a cognitive solution. The client is taught a substitute behavior to do instead.

This is called the Azrin Technique. Every time they  touch their hair,  or think about doing it or are in a situation that triggers it, they go into the substitute behaviour routine.

In a very short time, instead of triggering hair pulling, it now triggers the substitute behaviour. You substitutes one habit with a different habit. The old habit rapidly goes in to extinction, no matter how long it has been around for. It is then easy to drop the substitute behaviour after a week or so.


Hair Pulling is triggered by stress. You can be taught a rapid induction relaxation technique. This lets you drop into deep relaxation instantly, anywhere. This acts as a circuit breaker and prevents stress building up to levels where your habit would be triggered again.

Direct Hypnosis Suggestion Therapy

Direct Hypnosis is used to make the you aware that are starting to pull your hair, or you are thinking about it. Becoming aware is the first step to controlling it. Then the hypnotherapy guides you through a series of visualizations. Some are about reinforcing how good you will look and feel with healthy hair.

Some are about making you unhappy about not having perfect hair. There are visualizations of becoming acutely sensitive to criticism about your hair pulling. These work to alter your perceptions and are linked to emotional rewards and punishments.

Then you get direct suggestions about how to relax in stressful situations. This links feels of calm and control to external triggers, so that you are promoted to feel good about yourself, instead of feeling anxious.

You are hypnotized to think of your hair differently. You see it as an essential part of who you are. You think of it as something to be loved and looked after, to be protected like a precious child, something you are proud of.

You are taken through situations where you would normally experience stress and start hair pulling. But in hypnosis you rehearse not having the habit, and your mind is taught  an automatic behavior to prevent you even starting to abuse your hair.

The result is multi-part therapy that integrates emotional responses, pride in appearance, self confidence and gives you several ways to ensure that you can overcome the hair pulling habit.

Somatic Metaphor Therapy

hair pullingSome people describe themselves as having an addictive personality. This may be true, but the addictive personal doesn't come out of nowhere. People who bite their hair, chew their nails, smoke two packs a day, binge eat, and so on, are all reacting to internal feelings.

They may or may not be aware of the source. But these feelings are always from some trauma in childhood. This is either a single incident, or a some continuous stress they were put under. One might sexual abuse, one might be constant bullying, or feeling rejected and unwanted.

These implant feelings of worthlessness, fear, anger, anxiety and things like that. Everyone is different. But these feels are always there, in the background. Any time you have a quiet moment, watching TV or driving maybe, these feeling surface again, and you start the addictive behavior.

This is why hair pulling is so hard to stop. The feeling is always there, ready, waiting to come out again. For example, it is common for women to stop hair pulling on the lead up to their wedding. And for a few months after that, they don't even think about it. But once the excitement passes, the old feeling re-emerge, and the habit comes back.

The hair pulling is just a symptom of these deeper issues. When you address the deep issues, the reason for pulling is removed, and the habit goes away. Hair pulling is always a symptom, not the problem.

Somatic Metaphor therapy lets you deal with your own past. You use your own mind to alter how you perceive old hurts and wrongs. You automatically  turn stressful situations into successful situations. Redefining your past stops any old feelings from triggering a relapse.


Hair Pulling and anxiety Case

I had a very memorable client today. He told me that he had trichotillomania, hair pulling. He said that he was constantly pulling hairs out of his beard and picking at his nails. He couldn’t stop and he needed to stop because it was threatening his job.

From previous experience I know that hair pulling is associated with anxiety. I asked him when the anxiety had started. He told me that he had been anxious all his life. So I asked him to tell me about growing up. He had grown up in a religious family. His father was in the military, strict and verbally abusive. He was a perfectionist for whom nothing was ever good enough.

My client described an upbringing of constant anxiety. He had been sexually abused by an older stepbrother. I asked him at what age this happened. He said that he was three years old when it was discovered. Eventually his stepbrother was institutionalised. I pointed out that at three years old you have no memories, and so the sexual abuse, if it actually happened, would not have affected his behaviour.

I said it was much more likely that his parents had told him about it and expected him to behave badly. He told me that he’d spent much of his childhood on Ritalin. He was forced to take handfuls of pharmaceuticals every day until he went to high school. Then he just refused to take any more.

Ineffective therapy

He described an endless round of psychotherapists, counselors, guides and advisers. Most of these were faith-based. A few helped, most did not. He had been to group therapy, face-to face therapy, art therapy, meditation: you name it, he’s been to it. He had spent thousands of hours in therapy. Even in therapy was hair pulling.

And I said to him, “You’ve been to all this counselling, all this therapy, and yet you are still anxious?”. “Yes, I have tried everything. I have tried to stop my racing thoughts but I still get anxious in crowds. He said “I feel that there is something still chasing me”.

I asked him what he felt had helped him. He said that being taught how to go sleep was very useful. He slept badly and often woke during the night. Meditation was also useful. He meditated on a regular basis. I asked them how it was that he meditated a lot, but still had anxiety. He just looked even more unhappy.

I felt that it was a tragedy that this decent young man had been let down by the entire therapy profession. It seemed to me there was very little wrong with him apart from his anxiety. Looking back, it seemed that most of it was the result of his parents behavior towards him. And all the nonsense labels that various therapists had tried to stick on to him.

Treating deep-seated anxiety

I felt that the best approach would be to tackle his hair pulling and anxiety head-on. Since he said that he had been meditating a lot, and was good at it, I asked him to put himself into trance. ‘Just say the word “yes”, when you are there.’

He proceeded to put himself under. I  deepened the trance. Then I suggested that he focused on this feeling of “something still chasing me”. His expression changed, and it became clear that he was actually experiencing that old anxiety.

I kept on suggesting that he could go deeper into the anxiety, to become more aware of it, to allow it to come out fully. His whole body was showing signs of anxiety. I then suggested that he could become curious about that feeling. I asked him to consider its size, its colour, its shape, and what object it most resembled.

Developing the metaphor

hair pullingHe said “it’s a motor”. This surprised me. Most people think of clouds or stones or something fairly general. I was quite happy to accept a motor, so I continue developing it. He said it was about the size of a basketball, it was black, it had moving parts, and it was dangerous.

I asked “what else you know about it?”. He told me it was a Langolier motor. This meant nothing to me, and I wasn’t sure if I’d heard him correctly. He had a very clear image of the motor whatever it was, so I started on the next stage which is to change into something else.

I asked him “what would you like to have happen to this thing?”. He said he wanted to stop it. Then he said he wanted to take it apart. I asked “and what would that mean for you, if it stopped and you took it apart?”. He said “I could rebuild it”.

This wasn’t what I expected, but I pressed on. “And what would it mean for you if you could rebuild it?”. He said “then I would know how it worked”. I asked again “and what would it mean for you when you know how it works?”. He said “then I could be calm”.

This meant he had now established a link between changing the motor metaphor and his desired state. Changing the motor in any way would break him out of his anxiety state.

Changing the metaphor

So I asked him “what would have to happen for that motor to stop?”. He said it couldn’t stop. It was too dangerous. He couldn’t even see it clearly, because it was moving so fast. Even going near it, things could fly off it and injure you.

This was his unconscious mind’s way of keeping away from the feeling. Most likely he had never really addressed the feeling at all at any time in his life, for fear of what might happen.

I then suggested, gently, that possibly some sort of wall, some sort of barrier could go around it. A moment later he said “Ah yes, there is a barrier around it”. I asked him what it was made of. He said “glass”. So I said, “just allow whatever wants to happen to happen”. After a short time, He said “it’s filled with water” with a sense of surprise in his voice.

Then he said “it has frozen”. And now I can see it clearly. “It’s a very clever intricate machine”. And he began to describe in some detail. He was clearly thinking of some real machine, and not some vague metaphor. This was very puzzling to me, but I kept on with the therapy.

I asked him what he would like to have happen to it. And he said again “I want to take it apart”. So I gently suggested he begin taking apart. And he described in excruciating detail exactly what he was doing. He was taking tiny screwdrivers and removing the screws.

Each screw was carefully bagged, colour-coded, labelled and laid out. He described taking each bit apart, laying it out, taking sketches and photographs so that he would know how to put back together again.

Destroying the machine

And he was constantly remarking on how clever and intricate and well-designed it was. He was filled with admiration for the working of this machine. This actually wasn’t what I was trying to achieve. I needed him to destroy the machine, not follow in love with it.

So I made more suggestions about what to do with the machine. Eventually he said ” I could build something different with it”. So I encourage them to think about using just a few parts to make something useful. He seemed very taken with this idea. He said he could make something for everyone and they would find it useful.

I said “and you can be proud of that, can’t you?”. “Oh yes,” he said “but then everyone would start arguing about where the idea came from and try to patent it would cause a whole lot of arguments”. So I then spent some time trying to assure him that it actually would work out well. I then checked to see if all the parts had been used. “And is there anything left of that machine?”.

Destroying the dangerous part

He told me that there were many parts left. There were sharp and dangerous and couldn’t be touched. I asked him what he was going to do with them. He said he would bag them up and put them away. This was not what I wanted. I wanted him to destroy those dangerous parts.

Otherwise they might come back at some future time and ruin all the good work we had been  doing. I told him he had to get rid of them. And he said “okay, I will give them to some friends of mine”. This would not at all what I had expected, but I figured  getting rid of them that way was as good as any other way.

So the machine had now been dismantled. I reminded him that this meant that he could now change. I asked him “how does that anxiety seem to you now?”. He said “it all seems very distant”. Job done.

Explaining the metaphor

I then brought out of trance and we chatted for a while. He said to me “did you notice that I called that a Langolier?”. I said yes but I had no idea what what he meant by it. He told me that when he was a child he had watched the Stephen King movie with his father.

It had frightened him at the time. The movie was about going to the edge of time and these machines called Langolier continually ate Time. His young mind had associated these machines with some enormous monstrous power that consumed everything and could not be stopped.

Somehow or other he had made a link between that and his childhood anxiety caused by things that he couldn’t stop and had no control over.

That was the metaphor that he brought up from the depths of his unconscious. By dismantling and disabling that machine metaphorically, he had dismantled his feelings of anxiety.

It is very seldom I get such a direct link back to the visualization of a childhood anxiety. But in this case it was very clear how his mind thought of his hair pulling problem, and thought of the problem like this invincible machine.

I made no attempt to address this trichotillomania as he had asked for. Instead, going after the source of the anxiety allowed him to take back control of his whole life. The hair pulling and nail picking will clear up by themselves now.

Outcome of the Hair Pulling treatment

Mr. Mason,

I’m writing to you almost a week after having undergone your hypnotherapy for my trichotillomania and I’m in a bit of shock actually. I’ve not pulled a single hair from my body, not one. Occasionally I will touch my beard but almost immediately remind myself that “oh yeah, I don’t have to do that anymore”.
It’s more than incredible, it’s life changing and I can’t thank you enough.
The ugly and driving anxiety that was driving this behaviour and others is gone and I can finally relax. I’ve even gone and purchased some concert tickets for my wife because I feel I can be in a crowd and enclosed space again, which will make a delightful Valentine’s Day present to my wife. 
Best of luck to you, your work transition, and the ongoing project that is your wonderful home. Thank you again and infinitely.



You can't keep hiding your hair pulling behaviour for ever. You can't keep it a secret for ever either. Why not take some action to stop it? Give hypnosis a try.

Your session lasts about an hour, and costs $120.


I am ready to change


Book Now

Call 029 773 4400

Scroll to top