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Help your patient or pupil with trichotillomania

We are here to help you manage the information you pass on to your pupil or patient. 

Whether you are treating someone with an OCD related condition, body focused repetitive behaviour (BFRB) or are looking for information to share with your healthcare provider, we hope you’ll find everything you need via the links below.

If you have any questions after reading, please contact us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

After speaking with a health care professional about their BFRBs, our users often report being misunderstood. Recently a sixteen year old was told to “Get a teddy and pick at that.” If you don’t know what advice to offer, listening is best.

It is valuable to encourage your patient to use fiddle toys, of course it is, but don’t it isn’t  the whole story.  It is possible to  stop pulling by willpower alone, using other methods of keeping hands busy, but this will only be a willpower remission, which will be temporary.  Your patient or pupil may have URGES to pull their whole lives, so giving them other tools to manage stress and dopamine will be the only permanent way forward.  

Think of this like a very strong physical addiction – the person you are trying to help has a gene which compels them to pull hair.  With an alcoholic, the moment they stop drinking is the START of their journey, not the finish-line.  This is where their problems START, not where they finish.  Now they’re going to need to learn all manner of new and positive ways for managing dopamine and cortisol for the rest of their lives.  

Many people with trichotillomania have been helped by the simple words, “It is ok to pull your hair out.”   Recognising and acknowledging that this is one of many things which bring them comfort, feels reassuring.  Part of the patient or pupil wants to stop hair pulling and is aware of the problems it causes in their life, while the part of them who wants to pull – IN THAT MOMENT – is unaware of future repercussions.  

As a professional, it is also ok for you to admit that you just don’t know, or to direct them to our web pages.  Here’s the page to offer them a link to:

And here are some other links you might find helpful:

Diagnosis of Trichotillomania

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Information for teachers of children with trichotillomania

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