At the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley, we offer cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for children with Trichotillomania or chronic hair pulling. Our approach with children and their families is practical, goal-oriented, compassionate, and scientifically-based while focusing on your child’s individual needs.
What is Trichotillomania in Children?
If your child has trichotillomania, he or she may pull hair on various parts of their bodies, including the scalp, face, arms, legs and pubic areas. For some children, trichotillomania becomes damaging and very difficult to control. Hair pulling can occur anytime but may become worse in stressful situations. Most children with trichotillomania feel shame, embarrassment or guilt about their pulling behavior and hair loss. Younger children may not notice or be bothered by hair loss. Older children and adolescents may be teased and have low self esteem, anxiety or depression.
Symptoms of Trichotillomania in Children
- Recurrent hair pulling resulting in noticeable hair loss
- Pleasure, excitement, or relief when pulling out hair
- Embarrassment or shame resulting from hair loss
- Tension and difficulty resisting the urge to pull hair
- Problems at home or school due to hair loss or pulling
Cognitive Behavioral Model of Trichotillomania for Children
According to the CBT model, hair pulling is maintained by a combination of environmental, emotional, and/or cognitive factors that trigger or reinforce pulling episodes. Pulling can be triggered by specific settings (e.g. bedroom, bathroom) or activities such as driving or watching television. Certain emotions, such as anxiety, tension, and boredom can also trigger pulling episodes, as well as irrational beliefs about physical appearance (e.g. your child may believe that there is too much hair on his/her legs). Pulling is then reinforced by playing with the hair after it is pulled, a sense of relief or satisfaction, tension reduction, or the belief that physical appearance is improved. Pulling also may distract your child from negative and uncomfortable emotions that they wish to avoid.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Children with Trichotillomania
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you and your child learn skills to manage and reduce hair pulling. CBT is a specialized form of therapy that involves helping your child recognize thoughts, feelings and behaviors associated with hair pulling. The goal of this therapy is to increase the awareness of hair pulling and replace it with alternative behaviors. During the assessment phase, you and your child will keep track of their pulling episodes, along with the associated triggers, consequences, emotions and thoughts. Your child will learn will learn self-management strategies to prevent pulling episodes and to stop the episodes once they begin, as well as learn to tolerate the uncomfortable emotions that lead to pulling.
Common Goals of Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Trichotillomania with Children
- Decrease pulling episodes and urges to pull.
- Develop effective management strategies for dealing with pulling triggers and stopping episodes once they begin.
- Resume daily routine and other levels of functioning.
- Build coping skills for tolerating uncomfortable emotions and preventing pulling.
- Enlist family support in helping the child stop pulling.
How to Get Help for Your Child with Trichotillomania
The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley specializes in therapy and counseling for children with hair pulling/trichotillomania. With our central location in Saratoga just a 1/2 mile (2 minute drive) from Hwy 85, we serve the Silicon Valley communities of San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, Campbell, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Los Altos. Contact us at (408) 384-8404 for more information on how we can help you and your child manage their hair pulling problems.