WHAT IS TINNITUS?
(American Tinnitus Association) Tinnitus (pronounced ti-night’-us or tin’-i-tus), is the medical term for the perception of sound when no external sound is present; it is often referred to as “ringing in the ears.” It can also take the form of hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping or clicking. The noise can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones; it can be subtle or at a life-shattering level.
Eventually, it comes up in conversation. “I’ve heard that hypnosis can stop tinnitus, is that true?” Much to the surprise of this clinical hypnotherapist, it is often true and when hypnotherapy doesn’t eliminate tinnitus it normally reduces the volume and the stress and negative emotions surrounding tinnitus. In fact, one recent study showed that 73% of individuals taking part in a study on the efficacy of hypnosis in tinnitus reduction, succeeded in doing just that.
Why don’t more pursue such a successful therapy? It would seem that there is a perception of hypnosis that is negative in the minds of many. Why this is, can generally be attributed to the media’s portrayal of hypnotist’s in general. People seem to relate hypnosis to the surrender of will to another person…that is until they actually participate in hypnotherapy and learn self hypnosis!
Hypnosis is an old word that once meant sleep, another misnomer. When a person is in a state of hypnosis they are actually in the exact opposite state of sleep! They are in a state of heightened awareness and focused concentration. It is scientifically measurable by instruments and is known as “the alpha state.” (Measured by an EEG, this is 8-12 Hz.) Recent science has shown this state of mind to be superior for learning, recall of memory and training the mind to overcome the bad “programming” of the past, including tinnitus.
It has been shown in countless studies that people who suffer from tinnitus tend to have more somatics than the population as a whole. People who suffer from tinnitus largely either suffered from depression or stress related anxiety before the onset of the noise. This fact, in part, explains the efficacy of hypnosis in the relief of tinnitus. For many decades it has been known that hypnosis reduces stress, anxiety and phobias. We are learning that hypnotherapy is effective in the treatment of depression, and, now tinnitus. When a person has tinnitus or any illness, there are emotional clusters of feelings attached to the illness within the neurology of the individual. In psychology, these are known as “state dependent memories.” The memories are so powerful because of the emotional attachment to them. With tinnitus, the emotions can run the gamut from anger to anxiety and distress to depression.
The hypnotherapists job is two-fold. The therapist must defuse the emotional charge from the associations so that the person has a better opportunity for healing. Once the emotional clusters have been removed, the therapist will help the client’s unconscious mind focus on other stimulii than the noise.
Some hypnotherapists will recommend the use of an audiotape after the initial session with the therapist. Generally this tape will allow the individual to use self hypnosis on a daily basis at no additional cost. It is this form of hypnotherapy that has been studied on several occasions with results of improvement ranging from about 2/3 to 3/4. It’s important to note that hypnosis is 100% safe for the client with one caveat. It is extremely critical that an individual NOT use hypnosis until the pathology has been determined by a medical doctor. It would be foolish to silence the noise of tinnitus that was caused by a tumor.
What can we expect in a session? Each hypnotherapist has a slightly different style, much like a psychologist would. However there are a few hypnotherapeutic models that are common in reducing tinnitus volume and other somatics. Regression therapy is one form of hypnotherapy. In regression therapy the client is regressed to the time before the onset of the tinnitus to discover the trigger of the noise if it is unknown. Approximately half of all individuals do not know how their tinnitus onset. This will come out in therapy in most cases. Generally speaking, from this point the therapist can help the client in a couple of ways.
The therapist may have the client simply re-experience onset over an over until the emotional impact becomes boring or even amusing to the client. The other traditional methodology is to bring the onset to the client’s conscious awareness so the client can make a cognitive decision about how he should feel about tinnitus. Often the tinnitus will disappear or reduce at this point.
Parts therapy is another form of hypnotherapy that is used for tinnitus. Generally speaking hypnotist’s work under the assumption that the unconscious mind always does what it thinks is best for the survival of the individual. There are parts of the unconscious that regulate heart beat, breathing, and blood flow among all the other neurological functions of the body. All of these can be altered in hypnosis by working with the unconscious.
In parts therapy, we discover what “part” of the mind is maintaining the noise of tinnitus and we negotiate with that part to tell us why the noise is being maintained. Quite often it comes up in therapy that the noise is a signal to the conscious mind. Often it is a message to begin to listen to the self or others or to make a major life change, often work related.
Frequently, when the part is satisfied that the message can get “through” the nosie, the part happily gives up it’s “job” and rests. Parts therapy can be miraculous in nature. This author has personally participated in remarkable sessions using parts therapy. Suggestive therapy is hypnotherapy that works by suggestion. It is the quickest form of hypnosis that generally works via post-hypnotic
suggestion. In this form of therapy, the therapist does not look for causes or parts. Here, the therapist is only concerned with future events and offers the unconscous suggestions. For example:
“And upon returning to your wide aware state of mind you will notice the noise that was so distracting earlier today, will now be faint and will signal to you to lead a more peaceful life and spend more time relaxing…”
An excellent therapist will incorporate all three of these general therapies in addition to teaching the client self-hypnosis for relaxation. Self hypnosis can be used to relax and experience calmer states of mind without the need of seeing the therapist for relaxation techniques again. It will frequently be necessary and desirable for a follow up session with a hypnotherapist several months after the original client work has been accomplished. A good hypnotherapist will usually charge substantially less for a follow up session and will work with the client to make sure the work previously done is indeed working.
Hypnosis is not a cure for tinnitus. Hypnosis is an extremely affordable and very helpful therapy for reducing or eliminating the noise and/or the emotional impact of tinnitus. Depending on the cause of the tinnitus and the psychological status of the individual, hypnosis will generally surprise the client with it’s seemingly amazing results.
Searching for a competent hypnotherapist can be a challenge. Contact the National Guild of Hypnotists in New Hampshire for the phone numbers of several therapists in your area. Call each and first ask if they know what tinnitus is. If they do ask if they believe they can be of service to you.
Some will and others will not. If they say yes, ask what kind of therapy they believe will help you and why. As in all forms of therapy, you must make the final decision of who to work with. Fees are generally quite reasonable and hypnotherapists tend to be pleasant and caring individuals.