The Science Behind The Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
The average doctor has probably never heard of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. However, there’s some powerful science behind it!
So, what is it?
Let’s start by going over what it is NOT. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is not what you think of when you think of therapy. You won’t lie on a couch and discuss your deepest, darkest feelings. Instead, you and your therapist will talk about ways to deal with your tinnitus.
You may also talk about different sounds – and how you can actually get enjoyment out of them.
Now that you’ve got a general idea of what to expect during a session, let us talk about the science behind it.
Note: This page was last updated on Saturday 11th of November 2017
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy comes from the work of Pawel Jastreboff, a neuroscientist who did a lot of research on tinnitus back in the 1980’s. Until Jastreboff came along, the general consensus was that tinnitus was caused by damage to the ear and could not be fixed.
Jastreboff didn’t buy that, though. He knew that tinnitus was not a disease, so in his mind, there had to be some way to deal with it. After years of research, Jastreboff published a thesis called “The Neurophysiological Model of Tinnitus”. The information in that thesis was used to create the Tinnitus Retraining Therapy.
In short, Jastreboff determined that everyone has some kind of noise in their heads, so it is normal to hear things like buzzing, ringing, and even beeping.
The problem arises when those sounds cause more distress than they should.
In fact, Jastreboff wrote, some people suffer from hyperacusis – or, a decreased tolerance for sound. If they can stop focusing on the noise, it won’t bother them as much. In essence, if you can teach your brain to ignore the noise, it won’t bother you anymore.
If you are like most tinnitus sufferers, you probably think that is a whole lot easier said than done!
So, how does the Tinnitus Retraining Therapy actually help you do that?
It focuses on both the conscious and subconscious minds. There are plenty of noises that go on around you that you do not consciously hear, because your subconscious mind filters them out.
For example, do you stop and take notice every time your air conditioner kicks on, every time your refrigerator motor starts running, or every time a car drives by your window?
Because your subconscious mind does not see those noises as a threat. They are simply the sounds of life, and your subconscious mind knows they won’t hurt you. As a result, there is no need to alert your conscious mind to them.
So why does your brain alert to tinnitus noises?
Because your subconscious mind sees them as some kind of threat. For some reason, your subconscious mind goes on “high alert” whenever there is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It alerts your conscious mind and you wind up focusing on the sound.
How can you make it so that your subconscious mind is not afraid of these sounds anymore?
You and your therapist will focus on deep relaxation techniques. During these sessions, the goal is to eliminate the stress, anxiety, and fear surrounding these noises.
As a result, your therapist will likely introduce some kind of noise to the session – probably noise that sounds like what you are dealing with.
If your subconscious mind can see that it is OK to relax while these noises are going on, eventually it will learn that they are not a threat.
The important thing to remember is that the Tinnitus Retraining Therapy isn’t a coping strategy.
Coping implies that the problem still exists, and you are simply looking for ways to deal with it. Instead, this therapy is aimed at eliminating the problem altogether.
If your subconscious can learn to filter out the noise in your ears before it reaches your conscious mind (like it does with the air conditioner, the refrigerator, and the car outside), you literally will not hear it anymore!
Once your Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is complete, you won’t have to do anything else. Once you have re-trained your subconscious, you have done all the work. Your subconscious will take it from there.
How long does it take to work?
A Tinnitus Retraining Therapy can take a while to produce results.
Because you are trying to re-program the way your mind views things, the results won’t be instant – like they are when you pop a pill.
In fact, some experts say that this form of therapy can take a year or two to generate full results.
For people who have seen success with it, though, the Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is well worth the wait!