A question about the best use of Direct Suggestion and Age Regression Work in the treatment of trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling).

Answered by Calvin D. Banyan, MA, CI, BCH


Dear Calvin,

What an awesome, wonderful site !!

As a hypnotist, I found soooo much useful info here !!

I have a particular challenge with a client right now (and after reading some of your basic protocol info, I think I have some hints as to what I need to do differently, BUT) -------she has trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling)--------I am at a standstill in my work with her---------I have done some regression and some direct suggestion------it all started for her when she was a budding teen, first aware of "bushy" eyebrows as she looked in a magnifying mirror, ---began tweezing them with a fascination which led to a 25-year compulsion which leaves her with no natural brows.

Have you had any experience/success with any clients with this challenge-----if so, would you be willing to share any specific insights?????

Thank you for your commitment to helping others in the field !!!!!


Marti Giardina


Hello Marti,

Sorry it has taken to song to get to your questions. I have been out of the country (Singapore) teaching and promoting the practice of hypnosis.

The answer is “Yes!” I have worked with this and similar issues many times, and I can tell you that this problem can be completely resolved. I’m encouraged to read that you have visited our web site. So then you are familiar with 5-PATH. The process that we call 5-PATH was designed to be a universal approach to doing hypnosis. When you say that you have “done some regression and some direct suggestion” work with her, I am also encouraged. Let me discuss this with you, so that you can make sure that you are using these two techniques to their maximum capacity.

For these two approaches (direct hypnotic suggestion and age regression) to be completely effective some things must be accomplished.

  1. In the first phase of 5-PATH® (Phase I) there are some important things that need to be done before the hypnosis session begins. First, the client must receive a pre-talk, where he or she is informed about “the truth” regarding hypnosis. This talk is designed to remove fears and misconceptions that the client may have about hypnosis, such as a fear of getting “stuck in hypnosis,” and other such myths. The client should also be informed as to what hypnosis will feel like.

    Once this has been done, the first session requires that the client receive an appropriate hypnotic induction, followed by a covert test for somnambulism (if it is not included in the induction). Once you have established somnambulism, then other tests that the client would be aware of should be given. These overt tests are called convincers. They are done to show the client that he or she has in deed become hypnotized. This overcomes the one fear that many clients have, and which cannot be neutralized during the pre-talk, which is the fear of not being able to be hypnotized.

    Once this has been done, then give the client hypnotic suggestions for the issue, in this case trichotillomania. An example of such a suggestion my be something like, “From this moment on, if at any time your hand begins to move toward your hair to pull it, you will instantly become aware of it consciously. Then you will immediately move your hand away from your hair, and as a result you will feel in control and relaxed.”

  2. In the age regression phase (Phase II), you need to re-establish the state of somnambulism. The client must be in somnambulism so that she can experience a revivification of the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE) and Subsequent Sensitizing Events (SSE). At this deep level of hypnosis, the experience is profound. Use Affect Bridge Age Regression, having the client in hypnosis follow the feeling associated with the problem back to the first time it was felt/experienced.

    Make sure that you uncover the ISE and then go before the ISE to do the Informed Child Technique. How do you know if you have the ISE? You can really never know, but you can build up a convincing amount of evidence. Here are some things that you should look for:

    • The feeling driving the problem should feel new,
    • The age for the client at the time of the ISE should be consistent with the known history of the problem,
    • If you attempt to gregress again using the feeling associated with the problem, your client should wind up right back at the same time and place,
    • And, if you regress before the ISE (even minutes before) the feeling driving the behavior should not exist.

After doing the Informed Child Technique (where the child is told whatever he or she needs to hear so that the ISE does not have a negative effect), the client should be able to go through the ISE without experiencing the feeling that was driving the behavior (hair pulling). Then your client should be able to go through the SSEs free from the behavior. Another good technique is Age Progression where the client is guided into the future free from the problem behavior.

  1. Then take your client through Phase III, Forgiveness of Others, and Phase IV, Forgiveness of Self, to rid her of any additional residual emotions that might drive the behavior (i.e., guilt and anger).

  2. Remember to follow each session with direct suggestion to reinforce the change in behavior. These insight hypnosis (Age Regression and Forgiveness Work, will cause the client to become highly suggestible for suggestions consistent with the experience—like “There is nothing wrong with you,” and “You can relax and enjoy the way you look”). Phase V, Parts Mediation Work will probably not be needed with this client. There is little chance of any Secondary Gain Issues existing.

Thanks for the question,
Calvin Banyan, MA, CI, CH