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Trichotillomania - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

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Lucinda and four of her Trich clients discuss Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) - a technique now commonly used in America but which is less well-known or available in the UK.

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Transcription of Conversation - Trichotillomania - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

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Having just come back from the States and spoken to Christine Pearson, who is the global founder of TLC - she's massive you know, and what she's done for the Tricho movement is phenomenal. In America they gear up a lot more to CBT which is not so much available in this country. You can go to your doctors, you can ask for it, whether you get it is a different matter. Sometimes it's a long waiting list - 9 months maybe, even longer, and schools of thought about it in this country vary from, you know: didn't really help much, well that was quite useful. I'm just wondering if you girls have got an opinion on; either have you tried CBT, get CBT, has done any good for you or not. What about you Angela?

I did ask my GP recently, about seeing a CBT specialist, and they put my name down and I had to wait a few months for it. And when the appointment came round and I went to see them they were very helpful, but they were only for 6 weeks - it was just a 6 week session so what good that she did do didn't last, so if they were to do it would be a longer...

You'd like to see a much more protracted treatment plan, a year or two at least.

At least, because it's not just 'like that', you need more time with things like this, especially the longer you've done hair pulling I think the longer you need with the therapies, to be able to talk about it and get the help.

What about you Anna, did you? Was it good, rubbish?

I've had, well once I got the courage to actually speak to a GP, just before I met you, I was referred for therapy and I also worked it out for myself over the course of the years to try and keep a chart, of when I pulled and how much I pulled, and what areas I pulled from to just try and control it. So I was already doing that for myself and when I went to go and see the therapist he was sort of 'well that's the basis of CBT so that's quite a good thing to do'. But again, like Angela I wasn't prescribed enough sessions for it actually to really sink in for the continuity - I think there has to be continuity in therapy for it to start working, especially if you've been doing something for so very long. You can't just stop it in a matter of a few weeks, with a sympathetic ear here and there; you do need to do intensive work.

What about you, you had quite a good experience didn't you?

Yes, I've had some mediocre ones, it was again six weeks, it wasn't actually a CBT specialist it was just someone who dabbled in it, but recently I've been re-referred. It was a 9 month waiting list, well it was a year waiting list, got seen after 9 months, and this has been a lot better I think, I don't know whether it's moved on since when I went before, but I've been prescribed 16 weeks if I need it - well 16 sessions and you can spread them out, you can have a session every three months or every week and you just space them out as you need them. And actually like cut your sessions down if you don't feel you need them or if you can't make one they'll give you a telephone call and see how you're doing. And I did find that really helpful.

So there is this general concensus that the Americans have got it better, you know, we're very far behind in Britain today with treatments for TTM but I think you've got with Trichotillomania we're still in embryonic stages of talking about it through the medical profession. Yes it's out on the internet, and things are better, you know if you do go to a doctor now the chances are he'll have heard of it, chances are he can spell it, or she, or chances are you might be referred, you know, the backlog of the back of the long waits and the short-term treatments aren't really as good and the Americans have got a much much better hold on things out there. As a direct result really of Christine Pearson setting up this global foundation about the treatment of TTM, Trichotillomania, and skin picking which they they lump together in America which is very unusual I thought.