Your audiologist or tinnitus specialist may refer you for counselling if your tinnitus is causing you distress. Counselling isn’t available in every tinnitus clinic, so you may need to be referred to a specialist tinnitus centre.
If you can’t get a referral and think you could benefit from counselling, speak to your GP. Private counselling services are also available.
This type of counselling is usually delivered by hearing therapists or audiologists who have a specialist understanding of tinnitus. It aims to reduce tinnitus distress and help you to manage your tinnitus in several ways, by:
- giving you information about tinnitus to help you understand it – this can help to relieve your fears and help you to accept your tinnitus
- showing you that your tinnitus can be managed effectively using simple techniques
- encouraging you to accept that most people eventually learn to live with their tinnitus, and ignore it
- letting you know what’s available to support you, and signposting you to other sources of useful information and support in your area.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
What you think about your tinnitus affects how you feel about it. It may be that the more attention you pay to your tinnitus, the worse you feel.
CBT helps you to examine your thought patterns and beliefs, and the way you do things, in order to understand why you react in certain ways. So although not designed as a specific tinnitus treatment, CBT can be very helpful:
- it can teach you coping techniques to deal with negative feelings and distress, so your thoughts and feelings become more positive
- it can help you to change how you think about tinnitus and what you can do about it, reducing your distress – this can help you to tolerate the noises and, eventually, they’ll become less noticeable.
CBT can be provided one-to-one or in a group therapy session. You’ll be encouraged, and given help, to challenge your ways of thinking and find the best way of approaching your tinnitus.
Most private counsellors will not have specialist knowledge of tinnitus. But private counselling may be useful if aspects of your life are making you feel unhappy or anxious, such as bereavement or relationship difficulties.
Stress can make your tinnitus seem worse, whereas talking about difficulties in your life may make your tinnitus seem better.
You usually have to pay for private counselling. However, you may be able to get access to free or reduced-rate independent counsellors through the NHS – speak to your GP for more information.
The experience and qualifications of counsellors can vary greatly, so make sure any counsellor you see is recognised by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.