Author Archive for: Corrick

50 Ways to Stop Pulling Your Hair

red-fragment 50 Ways to Stop Pulling Your Hair

 Lindy Hahn 

The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours


*  = I have tried these methods.
**  = These tips have helped me the most.

  • Wear a bandana to bed. *
  • Make a sticker chart. Every day that you go without pulling add a sticker. Hang this sticker chart in a room where you pull the most.**
  • Reward yourself after several days (or hours) of being pull free.*
  • Be patient with yourself.*
  • Join a support group.*
  • Talk to another person with Trichotillomania.*
  • Wet down your hair. This will make it really hard to pull out your hair since it will be slippery.*
  • Learn what your body needs instead of pulling. Is your body tired, hungry, sleepy, and excited, etc? Then tell yourself out loud what you need and go do it.**
  • Check out the resources available at
  • Stimulate your senses. Many of us that pull like the sensation that comes with it. Instead of pulling do other things to stimulate these such as washing your hair, brushing your lips on dental floss or string (if you rub the hair on your lips), and massaging your scalp.*
  • Avoid caffeine right before bed. Often bed time is a time when a lot of people pull. By using caffeine you keep yourself up longer and it heightens anxiety.*
  • Buy a fidget toy.*
  • Find other things to do with your hands such as knitting, crocheting, or cross stitch. *
  • Wear a hoodie to bed as a barrier to pulling. *
  • Go see a psychologist that performs cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Try hypnotherapy *
  • Make small reasonable goals. Such as I will not pull for the next three hours. Then keep increasing your time.
  • Look at your hair in the mirror everyday with your hands behind your back. Stare into the mirror until the anxiety to pull has lessened. This is called exposure therapy and it does work! **
  • Look in the mirror every day to see how much its grown. Be proud of your hard work. **
  • Brush your hair instead of pulling*
  • Have a positive attitude**
  • If you pull some hair do not beat yourself up about it, just try again.
  • Use the saying “every hair belongs on my head” and repeat this over and over until the urge to pull ceases.*
  • Make yourself busy, too much down time can be dangerous.*
  • Help others, which in turn will help you.**
  • Read everything you can on the internet about trichotillomania and the treatment plans to deal with it.*
  • Watch shows and documentaries about trichotillomania to learn new techniques.*
  • Wear perfume on your hands so that you will realize when your hand is going up to pull out your hair.
  • Name the hairs you want to pull out. It sounds silly but for some it works.
  • Spend less time in the areas of your house that you pull in.*
  • Keep a journal of your feelings.*
  • Find a hair that is laying around your house and stare at it daily. For many people, the sight of hair can trigger hair pulling. By staring at a piece of hair everyday you are exposing yourself to the anxiety that follows. This will eventually cause the anxiety to lessen.*
  • Also read textbooks about the anatomy of hair. This does the same thing as #32
  • Play with silly putty *
  • Take a long bath to ease the anxiety.**
  • Wear a wig the entire day, until you go to bed. Then put on a bandana. ( Only use this the first two weeks or so, then trust yourself enough to take it off)*
  • Take good care of your hair. Appreciating the hair you have will provide you with the courage you need to grow more. This means you should brush your hair daily, wash it at least once a day if possible, and respect that it belongs on your head.*
  • Put your tweezers in a cabinet until you need them for grooming, not Trichotillomania. If you use tweezers a lot you may need to throw them out and only buy new ones when you have your Trichotillomania under control.*
  • Imagine your life without Trichotillomania and with hair.**
  • Place lotion or gel on your hands so it’s hard to grasp the hair you want to pull.
  • Place notes that say “NO” or inspirational sayings about stopping hair pulling in places where you normally pull.
  • Wear a rubber band around your wrist to snap every time you want to pull.
  • Wear a bead bracelet to fidget with.
  • Lift weights. Your arms will be too tired to want to pull.
  • Pet an animal. Sometimes just running your hands through a pet’s fur can stimulate the same sensation that you need in order to ease anxiety.*
  • Meditate.
  • Take pictures of your bald spots and post them where you usually pull. When seeing these pictures you will not want to pull since bald spots are frightening.
  • Tell your friends and family to tell you to stop if they see you pulling. *
  • Spread the word about Trichotillomania. Sometimes telling other people about our condition helps us want to change it. *
  • Last but not least learn to love yourself. Only then can you start to heal. **


Lindy Hahn, The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours, 2017. Retrieved November 3, 2017 from:


blue-fragmentSeasonal Affective Disorder


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, but are much less common than winter episodes of SAD.

Signs and Symptoms

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not considered as a separate disorder. It is a type of depression displaying a recurring seasonal pattern. To be diagnosed with SAD, people must meet full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons (appearing in the winter or summer months) for at least 2 years. Seasonal depressions must be much more frequent than any non-seasonal depressions.

Symptoms of Major Depression

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having problems with sleep
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

Symptoms of the Winter Pattern of SAD include:

  • Having low energy
  • Hypersomnia
  • Overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Craving for carbohydrates
  • Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)

Symptoms of the less frequently occurring summer seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Poor appetite with associated weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Episodes of violent behavior

Risk Factors

Attributes that may increase your risk of SAD include:

  • Being female. SAD is diagnosed four times  more often in women than men.
  • Living far from the equator. SAD is more frequent in people who live far north or south of the equator. For example, 1 percent of those who live in Florida and 9 percent of those who live in New England or Alaska suffer from SAD. 
  • Family history. People with a family history of other types of depression are more likely to develop SAD than people who do not have a family history of depression.
  • Having depression or bipolar disorder. The symptoms of depression may worsen with the seasons if you have one of these conditions (but SAD is diagnosed only if seasonal depressions are the most common).
  • Younger Age. Younger adults have a higher risk of SAD than older adults. SAD has been reported even in children and teens.

The causes of SAD are unknown, but research has found some biological clues:

  • People with SAD may have trouble regulating one of the key neurotransmitters involved in mood, serotonin. One study found that people with SAD have 5 percent more serotonin transporter protein in winter months than summer months. Higher serotonin transporter protein leaves less serotonin available at the synapse because the function of the transporter is to recycle neurotransmitter back into the pre-synaptic neuron.
  • People with SAD may overproduce the hormone melatonin.Darkness increases production of melatonin, which regulates sleep. As winter days become shorter, melatonin production increases, leaving people with SAD to feel sleepier and more lethargic, often with delayed circadian rhythms.
  • People with SAD also may produce less Vitamin D. Vitamin D is believed to play a role in serotonin activity. Vitamin D insufficiency may be associated with clinically significant depression symptoms.

Treatments and Therapies

There are four major types of treatment for SAD:

  • Medication
  • Light therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Vitamin D

These may be used alone or in combination.


Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to treat SAD. The FDA has also approved the use of bupropion , another type of antidepressant, for treating SAD.

As with other medications, there are side effects to SSRIs. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition. You may need to try several different antidepressant medications before finding the one that improves your symptoms without causing problematic side effects. For basic information about SSRIs and other mental health medications, visit NIMH’s Medications webpage. Check the FDA’s website  for the latest information on warnings, patient medication guides, or newly approved medications.

Light Therapy

Light therapy has been a mainstay of treatment for SAD since the 1980s. The idea behind light therapy is to replace the diminished sunshine of the fall and winter months using daily exposure to bright, artificial light. Symptoms of SAD may be relieved by sitting in front of a light box first thing in the morning, on a daily basis from the early fall until spring. Most typically, light boxes filter out the ultraviolet rays and require 20-60 minutes of exposure to 10,000 lux of cool-white fluorescent light, an amount that is about 20 times greater than ordinary indoor lighting.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is type of psychotherapy that is effective for SAD. Traditional cognitive behavioral therapy has been adapted for use with SAD (CBT-SAD). CBT-SAD relies on basic techniques of CBT such as identifying negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive thoughts along with a technique called behavioral activation. Behavioral activation seeks to help the person identify activities that are engaging and pleasurable, whether indoors or outdoors, to improve coping with winter.

Vitamin D

At present, vitamin D supplementation by itself is not regarded as an effective SAD treatment. The reason behind its use is that low blood levels of vitamin D were found in people with SAD. The low levels are usually due to insufficient dietary intake or insufficient exposure to sunshine. However, the evidence for its use has been mixed. While some studies suggest vitamin D supplementation may be as effective as light therapy, others found vitamin D had no effect .


National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Seasonal Affective Disorder. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from 

Welcome Marvin

purple-fragment Welcome Marvin

We are pleased to welcome our new Associate, Marvin Hofer, Registered Social Worker (AB). Marvin joins us with 16-years experience as a social worker and therapist. He offers individual and couples counselling to adults. His areas of interest include: LGBTQ, anger management, relationship difficulties, and men’s issues and experiences. Marvin is currently accepting new clients and would be pleased to hear from you – please refer to our contacts page for more information.

Thank you Dr. Winlaw-Tierney

green-fragment Best Wishes Dr. Shirley Winlaw-Tierney

Now in Colour would like to wish Shirley all the best as she embarks on her retirement. Shirley has been an asset to our office since 2015 and we will all miss her!


purple-fragment Grounding Technique

Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, with racing thoughts, or anxious feelings before a meeting or event?

Most of us do, at some time in our lives. Anxiety is,after all, part of the human condition. BUT, high pressure moments often require us to feel more focused and present in that moment. This is a simple technique that I teach my clients which helps to manage those unpleasant symptoms of anxiety.

The instructions below are for practice while standing, however, this technique can be just as effective when practiced while seated (although, of course not while operating a vehicle or machinery which requires your full attention and, both hands on the wheel).canstockphoto8257126

1. Check in with yourself. Are you feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed? If the answer is “Yes” proceed to step 2.

2. Stand with your legs comfortably apart and take a deep, slow breath – in through your nose and slowly release this breath through your mouth. It doesn’t matter if you are alone, in a crowd, or standing in a long check-out line at the supermarket – this can be done quietly and gently so that no one will know you are doing it.

3. Place both hands, one on top of the other over your belly button (again no one will suspect a thing – you just look like you are resting your arms).

4. Take another deep breath in through your nose and this time as your breathe out through your mouth, focus on your middle. Focus on the feeling of your hands on your belly button (the warmth of your hands, the gentle pressure of your hands). Now, imagine that all of those unpleasant feelings (i.e., stress, anxiety and the weightiness of being overwhelmed) are being pushed down into this section of your body. As you do so, you may start to notice that your legs and feet feel more solid, more firmly rooted to the ground.

5. Take another deep breath in through your nose and, as you breathe out through your mouth, imagine all of those stressful feelings – now located in your middle – are being pushed downwards through your legs and out through the soles of your feet. Once again, you may notice that your legs start to feel solidly grounded and weighty – almost as if you are stuck to the floor, but you are not! You are simply grounded and you can choose to walk away from where you are with a renewed sense of confidence.

6. Congratulations! – You are centered and grounded. Your head will likely feel clearer, you may find you are walking taller, and, as you progress, you could very well find that you are more able to cope with the thing that was stressing you out. For example, the long check-out line in the supermarket may not seem so bothersome and you may even find yourself using the time productively.

I encourage my clients to test this technique with a friend or partner. When you are together and he or she seems a little stressed, you might ask them if you could do a little exercise.

Make sure she or he agrees before going any further.

1. First, ask them to stand with their legs comfortably apart. Then, ask permission to gently push her or his upper arm – if she or he agrees, gently push the upper arm closest to you with your hand. [Please note, the key word here is “gently” – you don’t want to shove her or him, or in any way hurt or injure – just push gently]. You will likely find that she or he is somewhat unbalanced.

2. Once they have regained their balance, start with point number two above and talk them through the exercise (only don’t tell them that their feet and legs are feeling more solid) – ask him or her to imagine pushing all of their worries about the day down through their middle section, through into their legs, and out through their feet. Once you have done this, you may notice that their shoulders appear to be more relaxed and they seem more solidly rooted to the spot.

3. If you observe the above changes, ask her or him once again if you can gently push their upper arm – if they agree, gently push. You may be surprised to see how solid she or he seems – so much so, it would likely take more effort than a gentle push to unbalance them.

4. Remember to congratulate him or her on being able to center and ground themselves and ask them how they feel.

Like anything in life, this little technique takes practice to make it more effective and efficient. The more you practice it, the better you will become and, quite possibly, the heavier and weightier your legs will feel.

Once you are a confident practitioner, this technique will help you to feel more focused, present, and confident in those moments when you need a boost.

Good luck and I hope this technique proves to be helpful.

If you would like further assistance with managing emotions, please feel free to contact our practice as we are currently accepting new clients.

Kind Regards, Dr. Corrick Woodfin, Registered Psychologist.

orange-fragment Tiny Tweaks = Big Changes

We know that the mind can have a direct impact on the body, but what about the body influencing the mind? Amy Cuddy’s research indicates that by simply changing the position of our bodies we can change our minds.

Have a look at her TED video here.


Stop, Breath & Think

green-fragment Just Take Five. Mindfulness and stickers!

top-slide-2048STOP, BREATHE & THINK APP

A friendly, simple tool to guide people of all ages and backgrounds through meditations for mindfulness and compassion.


Office Space – Beltline Calgary (edge of Downtown)

purple-fragment Office Space – Beltline Calgary (edge of Downtown)

Now in Colour Psychological Services is pleased to advertise the opportunity to share our newly renovated office space. We are a new and developing psychological practice located at #502 – 933 17 Ave SW. Our office space consists of two comfortably furnished consulting rooms, each with a large West facing window. The offices are suitable for meeting with individuals and/or couples. As well, our reception area can be used to provide group programming. Our space is best suited to the provision of services to adults. Currently we have office/group space available some weekdays; evenings; as well as weekends. This opportunity would be suited to a practitioner with an established practice or a practitioner starting/building a practice. Photos available at

Features include: a calm and modern atmosphere; kitchen area with complementary beverages for you and your clients; use of dishes, dishwasher, microwave, and fridge; ample parking, with wheel chair accessible parking on the second level of our building; easy access to Calgary Transit; access to fax/printer/copier/scanner and Wi-Fi; filing cabinet to store files; use of payment processing service. There would also be opportunities for consultation, advertising, and referral. Please contact or 403-483-0651 for more information or to arrange a viewing.

Highstreet - office

Women’s Wellness Group Calgary

red-fragment Women’s Wellness Group Calgary.

Develop your ability to live a happier, more fulfilling life.

Would you like to live a positive and healthier life? Did you know that human beings are predisposed to think negatively? Did you know that you can change this bias?

Our group program will teach you ways to deliberately change these tendencies, helping you to connect and develop your own personal strengths and resources.

We will cover: basic foundations for well-being; opportunities to experience and practice Positive Psychology techniques; group discussions allowing participants to share their experiences and learn from one another.

The group is facilitated by two Registered Psychologists (Katherine Schurer and Danica Heidebrecht).

Cost: $450 for 5 weekly 90 minute sessions. Fees are eligible for reimbursement through many benefit packages.

Starting: April 29, 2015 to May 27, 2015 (inclusive).

Only 8 spaces available! Accepting registration now – adult women only.

Please contact Katherine for more information or to register: 403-483-0651 or

Calgary Herald Interview

blue-fragmentCalgary Herald describes the challenges of Skin Picking and Hair Pulling.

Dr. Corrick Woodfin, Registered Psychologist, was recently interviewed about the treatment he offers for Skin Picking Disorder and Trichotillomania.

The article has also been listed on the national CBSN website here.

Everyone has their own strategies for dealing with stress – some healthy and others less so. According to one Calgary psychologist, 5 to 7 per cent of the population deal with stress by picking their skin.

Dermatillomania, or skin picking disorder, was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May 2013. It is classified as a body-focused repetitive behaviour, in which those afflicted spend a significant portion of each day picking at their skin to the extent of causing damage. In many cases, the face is the focus but it may involve other parts of the body as well.

Registered psychologist Dr. Corrick Woodfin is one of only three registered psychologists in Canada who openly treats the disorder and other related behaviours such as trichotillomania, or hair-pulling disorder. He says the relatively few methods of treatment and the stigma associated with skin picking disorder are what motivated him to learn more and how to help treat it.

“In a city the size of Calgary, we know that there are 20,000 to 30,000 people that experience skin picking disorder. That’s probably an underrepresentation, because people don’t tend to report it or seek treatment,” says Woodfin. He says that 25 per cent of his current clientele is made up of  sufferers of the disorder.

Danielle Roberts, a Calgary-based freelance writer in her late 20s, has suffered from skin picking disorder for 11 years. It was triggered at age 17, when someone pointed out a spot on her shoulder and suggested that she squeeze it. That came during a time of turmoil in her life, and for Roberts, the mental reward and stress relief associated with picking the spot were instant.

“The sensations before picking can range from extreme and intense anxiety to being completely unaware of what I’m doing,” she says.

“While I’m picking, I am extremely focused on the task at hand. I’m remarkably determined to ‘fix’ whatever imperfection I’ve focused on. It feels so relieving when I feel that I’ve ‘fixed’ something, but afterwards, I feel shameful, ugly, and frustrated.

“Logically, I know that I’m not fixing anything and actually making my skin worse, but the impulse and belief are not ones I’ve yet been able to get away from.”

Once thought to have been related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, Woodfin says the origins of skin picking disorder are still being understood.

“The understanding that we’ve got is that it’s far more complex than simply an impulse disorder – in terms of etiology. We know that it likely has a genetic component. With research and our understanding now, this is very much a disorder in its own right,” says Woodfin.

He says that while individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder hate the process of their impulsive behaviours, those with skin picking disorder find the behaviours pleasurable.

“Another idea is that it tends to run in people who have a propensity for addictions. If we think about the nature of the urges that people with this disorder have, you can argue that it has an addictive component, because the urges themselves are quite addictive in nature.”

Woodfin says that the challenging thing about treating skin picking disorder is that while the behaviour is used as a method of stress management, it can also function as a stress activator.

“It’s a very effective behaviour at managing all sorts of moods, and that in many ways is why it’s very challenging to treat.” At the same time, he adds, that’s why it’s a condition that can stay with an individual for life.

“The impact of body-focused repetitive behaviours like skin picking on the activities of daily life is huge. It can be extremely debilitating for people. The troubling thing is, there is a genetic underpinning to this, and we can’t modify our genetic makeup.”

Woodfin uses various treatments, not to “cure” his clients of the disorder, but to help them manage their behaviour. While historically habit reversal training was used to treat body focused repetitive behaviours, cognitive behavioural therapy is one of Woodfin’s main treatments.

“It takes a great deal of effort from the individual to want to try and manage this, but if they’re willing then what we can work towards is effective management, so that the client is aware of their triggers, they’re aware of what maintains the problem, and they’re aware of how to target it,” he says.

Although she has seen a therapist and was taking medication for a short period of time, Roberts has now learned to effectively manage her disorder through support groups and online resources. Skin picking disorder is still so unknown that the therapists she saw were initially unaware of the behaviour and its causes.

“While none of my therapists knew of the condition, they were extremely diligent in trying to grasp it. It was frustrating though. When you go in for help – especially when you’re paying for it – you shouldn’t have to educate the person you’re paying to help you,” says Roberts.

It was through online resources and forums that Roberts discovered the Canadian BFRB Support Network, a recently developed federally registered non-profit organization based in Toronto. Soon afterward, she began writing for the network because she wanted to raise awareness about the disorder.

She has also attended the network’s monthly support groups, and says that meeting others dealing with the disorder “in the flesh” for the first time recently has allowed her to realize how much in common she has with other  sufferers.

“To finally vocalize the frustrations with others who understood, to be able to joke about it and provide hope for others, it was exhilarating,” she says.

“For me, I go to the groups to support others, as I’ve got a reasonable grasp on my condition. I haven’t yet needed the boost from my peers, but it’s great to know that they are there for me.”

Woodfin recognizes not all individuals with skin picking disorders or related behaviours are interested in seeking help from a clinical psychologist. He suggests doing what Roberts has done and says that’s an good way to manage the disorder on a personal level.

“If people think that they’ve got a mental health disorder and that they’re crazy, it’s going to encourage the stigma that people aren’t seeking support. I would direct people to websites and support groups within Calgary, and to really arm themselves with information about what this is and what it isn’t,” suggests Woodfin.

“Part of getting rid of the stigma is recognition that there is information out there that is helpful and supportive, but the first thing is realizing that you’re not alone.”

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