Tinnitus Retraining Hypnotherapy
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the term for the sensation of hearing a sound in the absence of any external sound. These sounds may have a ringing, buzzing, whooshing, humming or rarely a musical quality, and they may be continuous or they can come and go. The tinnitus might seem like it’s in one ear or both, in the middle of the head or even be difficult to pinpoint.
Who gets Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is very common and is reported in all age groups, even young children. About 30% of people will experience tinnitus at some point in their lives but the number of people who live with persistent tinnitus is approximately 10-15%.
How does Tinnitus impact?
The experience of tinnitus is different for different people. Most people find that it doesn’t affect them significantly, but for others it can be a highly debilitating distressing experience. It may cause, or be associated with, any or all of the following:
- Reduced social interaction
What causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus not a disease or an illness in itself, but a symptom or sensation. There can be several underlying or aggravating factors, but often the underlying cause is unknown. It is generally agreed that tinnitus results from some type of change, either mental or physical, not necessarily related to hearing.
When we hear, sound travels into the ear and then the auditory nerves take the signals to the brain. The brain is then responsible for putting it all together and making sense of the sound. Because the ears only act as receptors, they don’t know what’s important and what’s not, they send a lot of information to the brain every moment about our sound environment. This is too much information for us to process, so the brain filters out a lot of unnecessary ‘activity’ and background sound, such as traffic noise or clocks ticking.
If there is a change in the system, either physically or emotionally, the amount of information being sent to the brain changes. The brain then responds to this change in levels by trying to get more information from the ear (i.e it turns the listening sensitivity up), and the extra information you may get is the sound we call tinnitus. The tinnitus is therefore actually brain activity and not the ear itself! It isn’t only a change in the ear, such as hearing loss or an ear infection that can result in tinnitus, but it could be due to a change in stress levels.
It’s not uncommon for tinnitus to be noticed after periods of significant stress, a change in life circumstances or general wellbeing. People often say that they are aware of noises in the ears when they have a cold, an ear infection or wax blocking the ear. Sometimes people become aware of tinnitus following a really stressful event and once they’re aware of it, seem to notice it more and more, but this usually fades once these things have passed. However, some people continue to notice the tinnitus, even after the stresses or an infection has cleared up. For many people, they may be completely unaware of the factors that have caused or worsen their tinnitus.
Do I need to see my GP if I have Tinnitus?
Yes - Tinnitus is rarely an indication of a serious disorder, but your doctor will be able to check this for you and rule out any underlying medical factors. Depending on the type of Tinnitus you have, you may need to be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon.
All people with subjective tinnitus should undergo a formal hearing test (pure tone audiogram with assessment of air and bone conduction) to assess their hearing (according to the latest Guidance from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence).
Does Tinnitus improve?
When you first experience tinnitus, you may naturally be anxious and afraid and very aware of this new sound. We constantly monitor our bodies and if anything changes, we become aware of the changes. You need to give yourself time to adapt.
Most people may find that their tinnitus does seem to settle down after this initial period, even without doing anything in particular. This is often referred to as ‘Habituation’. It’s a bit like walking into a room with a noisy fan or air conditioner. Initially, it seems really loud and then after a while, you stop noticing it as much.
There are things you can do to help yourself if you have mild-moderate Tinnitus that really can make a difference. The British Tinnitus Association has advice on its website and they themselves suggest that learning to relax is probably one of the most useful things you can do to help yourself. Other self-help measures like enriching your sound environment may also help.
Unfortunately, such measures don't work for every individual and for those suffers who have severe, persistent or debilitating Tinnitus there lives can be significantly improved with effective professional therapy services. Often clients with Tinnitus may have been told in the past they just "have to put up with it", but this is just not my experience of helping clients with Tinnitus. I witness much improvement in tinnitus suffers with effective treatment.
Tinnitus Retraining Hypnotherapy
A Combined Integrated approach
As a Professional Member of the British Tinnitus Association, a Medical Hypnotherapist and experienced Hypno-Psychotherapist, I offer an unique, integrated approach to managing Tinnitus and its emotional impact that is crafted to your particular individual needs.
Expanding on the original Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) approach, I use a combined approach which integrates Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness, Hypnotherapy and Relaxation techniques (including Self-hypnosis, Meditation, Breathwork) into an effective support programme.
You can read a little more of how each of these approaches help below. By using my integrated combined approach, you get the best of all worlds, that addresses your Tinnitus effectively from all angles.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) - this is one psychological approach that can be useful in managing tinnitus. The idea is that when you became aware of your tinnitus, you responded to it negatively. For example, you may have thought there was something seriously wrong with your hearing (a belief) and this led to you being anxious (an emotion), and you then tried to feel better, for example by avoiding silence (a behaviour). Some beliefs and behaviours are helpful and that’s great – keep doing them! But some beliefs and/or behaviours are unhelpful and CBT helps you to recognise them, and then you work together with a therapiststo find different ways of responding to the tinnitus so it becomes less bothersome.
- Mindfulness - this is a meditation technique that is widely validated as an effective therapeutic approach for pain, anxiety, depression, and increasingly so for Tinnitus. The idea is that we tend to resist unpleasant sensations (eg hearing tinnitus). If we stop resisting and allow the unpleasant sensation, this alters our awareness to include more sensations. We start to notice that sensations become less dominant once our attention moves away from them and focuses on a different part of the body. All of this can change in a moment, simply by changing our awareness. If we use mindfulness effectively, we can create some space from the tinnitus and in that space, we can decide how we’re going to respond to it.
- Clinical Hypnotherapy - Hypnosis is an excellent tool to retrain your brain on an unconscious level to easily ' tune out' of your tinnitus and to shift that 'selective attention' to other pleasant and enjoyable aspects of your awareness. Using hypnosis, underlying anxieties and fears can be resolved and sleep disturbances addressed.
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) - this is a very structured approach to managing tinnitus. Basically, TRT assumes that the tinnitus has been prioritised as an important signal. TRT uses sounds at a particular level to try to reduce the priority of the tinnitus so that you no longer hear it. It is based on the idea that we can get used to sounds, e.g. the sound of the fridge or air conditioner, so we can also get used to this sound of tinnitus. The process of getting used to the tinnitus sound is called habituation. TRT attempt to retrain how the brain processes sound so that you habituate to the tinnitus.
My therapeutic programme not only focused on your Tinnitus symptom, but addresses underlying anxieties, emotional factors, stresses along with associated low mood and sleep problems. I treat the Whole of you, not just your symptom!!
If you are experiencing distressing and debilitating Tinnitus, you don't have to put up with it, there is help that works.
For further information on how Tinnitus Retraining Hypnotherapy with Dr Rhead can be effective for you, call Emma on 01244 470181 or email email@example.com.
Dr Emma Rae Rhead Hypnotherapy
Safe, Effective Specialist Hypnotherapy with a Qualified Medical Doctor
Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine)
Hypnotherapy Chester, Hypnotherapy Liverpool, Hypnotherapy Harley Street London