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A Preliminary Investigation of Metacognitive Therapy and Habit Reversal as a Treatment for Trichotillomania

  • Hossein Shareh (a1)

Background: Not all patients suffering from trichotillomania (TTM) recover completely using CBT and of those that do, only a few maintain their recovery over time. Aims: The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effectiveness of metacognitive methods combined with habit reversal (MCT/HRT) in trichotillomania with a relatively long-term follow-up. Method: A case series (n = 8) and a randomized wait-list controlled trial (n = 34) design were conducted in this study. In the case series, three of the eight patients dropped out of the study. Therefore, TTM-related symptoms were evaluated in five patients suffering from TTM before and after brief metacognitive plus habit reversal therapy during 1-month, 6-month, and 12-month follow-ups. The treatment consisted of detached mindfulness (DM) techniques, ritual postponement and habit reversal training (HRT) in eight sessions. Results: All patients were responders at post-treatment in case series. After the 12-month follow-up, the results were associated with higher pre-treatment levels of self-esteem and global functioning and lower pre-treatment levels of depression and anxiety with nearly complete abstinence from hair pulling immediately after treatment. A randomized wait-list controlled trial with experimental (n = 17) and waiting list group (n = 17) was then conducted to confirm the case series results. There were significant differences between the two groups regarding changes in MGH-HPS, Y-BOCS-TM, RSES, GAF, BDI, BAI and self-monitoring. Therefore, the MCT/HRT treatment was found to be more effective than the waiting list group. Conclusions: A combined treatment including metacognitive and habit reversal techniques is remarkably effective in patients with TTM.

Corresponding author
Correspondence to Hossein Shareh, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, Hakim Sabzevari University, Sabzevar, Iran. E-mail:,
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