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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Parenting an Adolescent with Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling Disorder)

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Update: Published article:

Stevens, M. S., & O’Conner-Von, S. (2016). Parent Coping With Adolescent Trichotillomania. The Journal of School Nursing, doi: 1059840516658332.  Published on-line prior to publication on July 25, 2016. 

"As children struggle to learn and grow from life's lessons, their parents do as well"

Dr. Marcia Stevens

Student NursesGiven the cognitive development and information processing changes that occur during adolescence, parenting an adolescent is challenging in the best of circumstances. However, when a teenage son or daughter is observed to pull hair from the scalp, eyebrows or pubic area for unknown reasons, parenting can be overwhelming! Although this disorder affects 2-5% of the public and most often begins in pre-adolescence, parents seeking information find that few professionals have current knowledge about possible causes or effective treatment. Parents frequently blame themselves and wonder what actions they should take regarding their teenager's pulling behavior. Inconsistent treatment outcomes and pulling relapses may cause parents to lose hope in a successful outcome for their efforts.

Dr. Marcia Stevens is conducting a descriptive correlational study to explore the experience of parenting an adolescent with Trichotillomania. The purposes of this study are to investigate what parents describe as stressful about parenting an adolescent with trichotillomania; identify the responses and strategies parents use to manage stressful encounters with their adolescent; identify the meaning of hope for parents and determine the influence of parent characteristics and adolescent characteristics on level of hope. An on-line Internet-based method of data collection will be used to access a convenience sample of 30 adults. An invitation to the study is posted on the Trichotillomania Learning Center (Santa Cruz, California) website. Collaborating on the study is Dr. Renae Reinardy, a clinical psychologist and nationally recognized expert in the treatment of Trichotillomania. Through the perspectives of different disciplines involved with this study, new information may be gleaned to improve treatment outcomes by developing interventions that maximize family strengths, learn new ways to foster hope and provide help for adolescents and their families.