client in chair speaking with hair stylist JM Hair Finksburg

Stylist or Therapist: The Psychology of Hair Stylists

Therapy for Free (well, for the cost of a great haircut)

Is your stylist like your therapist?  Maybe you even joke that your hairstylist knows more about you than your family. Feel like she fixes more than just your hair?  You are not alone; many people tell their hairstylist that they are better than therapy!   

Some people prefer to use their stylist as their therapist. Hair salon visits have been the setting of many girl talk sessions that can model that of a visit to the therapist. Hair salons have been the place to go for both men and women alike for therapy and a haircut.  Why do we feel so comfortable sharing such personal – and many times tender details – of our lives with someone who hasn’t received mental health training?    

Let’s look at what could explain it:  

First, let’s look at the placement of the hairstylist and the client.  In a therapy session, the therapist sits across from the client and looks directly into the client’s eyes, whereas a stylist stands behind the client, so they are not facing each other. This makes the client feel comfortable to share extremely personal details with their stylist because the mirror creates the illusion of distance.  Questions a stylist asks could be the same but may seem less threatening than coming from a professional, due to the physical positions.  

Second, in traditional therapy, a therapist and client work together on charting out a plan for change and increasing accountability.  However, a client does not have to worry their stylist will hold them accountable or pressure them to change their negative behavior like a therapist might.  The therapists whole job is to hold you accountable and push you to make positive changes.  A visit to the salon would act more like a Band-Aid to your wound 

Finally, let’s be honest we tend to get personal and share with our stylist because stylists are fun!  After all, they spend thousands of hours mastering the art of conversation while clients sit in their chairs. We often have bright and bubbly personalities, and we’ve perfected and shaped our sense of humor. When compared to a life-of-the-party, therapists might seem a little…basic.  

Stylists have the freedom to be reserved and snarky, or extreme and sweet, while we want our therapists to be professional.  Therapists are like dependable parents you want to sit next to at Thanksgiving dinner, while hairstylists are like girlfriends you want to have cocktails with.  

To be honest many of the people we listen to haven’t had any mental health training at all (Oprah, anyone?), however, their life experiences have taught them quite a bit about human behavior. Likewise, hairstylists spend hours listening to our clients and often have useful advice to share.  

As your hairstylist, I want to defend and encourage you as listen to your story and hear your emotions. I’m here to will empathize with you and give advice about what you should do.  

Ways We’re Alike (but if you’re looking to chat, I may be better)

We will keep your deepest, darkest, most outrageous secrets. Not because we must, but because we want to. Plus, we know the code: What happens in the beauty salon stays in the beauty salon.  You can just speak your mind openly.  

At my salon, it’s never ranting or venting – I want to hear about your life. Stylists can be counted on to tell you that you’re beautiful and remind you that taking care of the physical can also improve you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I mean who doesn’t want that? 

Need Some Hair Therapy? 

If you are ready for a new style, haircut, hair color, or blow out with a side of fun conversation, listening, empathy and perhaps pieces of advice, you can contact the salon online or call 443-745-3503 to book an appointment today.  


*In all seriousness: your mental health is important. I highly recommend you SEE A THERAPIST IF you are struggling with relationships, having trouble making decisions, experiencing distress, resentment, or anxiety, or are feeling hopeless. We have many good options locally who can help.