Treating Hair Pulling in a 7-Year-Old Male: Modified Habit Reversal for Use in Pediatric Settings

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In pediatric office settings children with nervous habits, such as hair pulling, are often treated with drugs or referred for psychological treatment. The habit reversal technique, a behavior therapeutic approach to treating nervous habits, has proven cost-efficient in terms of maximal benefit from a minimal therapeutic intervention. However, this technique has not been considered practical to use in pediatric office settings because of the therapist-client contact time required. The present case study focused on treating hair pulling in a 7-year-old boy using a modified version of the habit reversal technique. Following a single 20-minute session, hair pulling was eliminated and did not recur throughout an 18-month follow-up. Although additional data are needed prior to advocating general use of this approach, the preliminary results suggest the feasibility of the modified habit reversal technique for treating nervous habits in children in pediatric office settings.

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