Counselling for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Counselling
Hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) are physical issues, but they can be accompanied by emotional difficulties. In cases where hearing may not be fully restored, or for those living with tinnitus (for which we have treatments but no cure), we provide tinnitus counselling to help deal with the permanent loss as well as the everyday difficulties that the hearing impairments provide.
Hearing loss can have a big impact on a person’s quality of life, both physically and emotionally. Hearing loss has been linked to stress, depression, loneliness, reduced job performance, and reduced physical and mental health. Adults with hearing loss are less likely to take part in social activities and more likely to feel depressed or sad. People with a profound hearing loss are more likely to be unemployed, and those who are employed often make less money than people with normal hearing.
What is Tinnitus Counselling?
From a counselling perspective, finding out what has caused the tinnitus may not be useful but learning to live with the condition certainly is. The first reaction to the onset is often one of intense anxiety and the ringing is perceived as something that will be impossible to live with. How on earth am I going to cope? How will I sleep? I love my silence, is that gone forever?
Many people go straight onto the Internet to find a cure and a quick search produces a plethora of suggested remedies from exclusion diets, to magic boxes, to exotic herbs. But there is no proven physical cure, no magic wand.
So for many the only course of action is to learn to live with the condition, but how?
- Distraction: The brain is extremely good at filtering out sounds it doesn’t need to hear. If you live near traffic or a ticking clock, you are rarely aware of either unless someone points them out. The more attention you give to the tinnitus the more it will demand and the harder it will be to get used to. Learning not to focus on it is difficult at first but remember the brain is helping, giving it a chance to view the ringing as unimportant and thus less noticeable. This is called ‘habituation’. Many people find some sort of masking device can help with this process: White noise generators – or a radio tuned just off station at night – can mask the tinnitus most effectively and help the brain habituate faster.
- Not seeking a cure: If you do find something that works for you, great. But if you are continually looking for a cure, your attention will be focused on whether or not the ringing has become any less and this just gives the tinnitus more of your attention, which is what we are trying to avoid.
- Counselling: Talking to a professional and learning to accept the condition and maintain a positive attitude, while at the same time exploring relaxation and distraction techniques, is constructive, practical therapy.
Five million adults in the UK suffer from tinnitus, people with tinnitus often have some hearing loss, and sometimes also suffer from loudness – when moderately loud sounds are perceived as being very loud. Tinnitus can become serious enough to impact your everyday life.
Common Causes of Tinnitus
The most common known causes of tinnitus are:
-Loud noises (machines, loud music or shooting guns)
-A head injury
-A side-effect from some medications
-A natural part of ageing
How Could It Affect You?
Different people will experience different effects from tinnitus. Some of the most common effects are:
Hearing – for some people, the sound of tinnitus is loud enough or distracting enough that it affects how they hear speech or other sounds around them
Concentration – some people with tinnitus find that it interferes with their ability to concentrate on other things like reading or following a conversation
Sleeping – many people with tinnitus find that it prevents them from falling asleep at night, or from going back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night
Thoughts and Emotions – some people with tinnitus have a hard time focusing on other things, and this leaves them feeling annoyed, depressed, anxious or angry about their condition