Why CBT for Tinnitus? - Debbie Featherstone | www.debbiefeatherstone.com

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
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Why CBT for Tinnitus?

Why? First and foremost, because CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to reduce tinnitus distress has been proven to be very effective through multiple studies and peer reviewed research. It is why I use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in my one to one work and why the CBT for Tinnitus E-Programme exists and made as widely available as possible.

While it is true to say that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a psychological intervention used to treat anxiety and depression for example, its principles are being used more and more beyond the areas of mental health that it is well known for.

These days, even corporate training for business professionals is geared around cognitive behavioural principles to improve performance at work, and as well as delegates improving their understanding of themselves, they gain insight in to the behaviour of their competitors and their customers.

When Dr Aaron Beck developed CBT back in the 1960s, he developed it as a therapy. It was different to previous types of therapy mainly due to its built-in measures for change; however, it hasn’t been until this last decade that the business community caught on to its simplicity and its profound effects.  

The reason I bring this to the fore now, is because I read recently that there is apparently a concern for many with tinnitus that being offered CBT means they are thought of as having a mental health problem. While this is inaccurate, it’s understandable why some people might have viewed it this way. I read a great piece recently by Dr William Sedley reported by the BTA and available to read on the BTA website www.tinnitus.org.uk/is-tinnitus-a-psychological-condition

Personally, I have come across no one who has said this to me or led me to believe they thought they were being treated for a mental health issue because they were distressed, worried or finding difficulty coping with tinnitus. However, tinnitus does not make any of us immune to experiencing concern, worry, even fear of the “what if’s” we experience in other aspects of our everyday lives.

As human beings, we are going to react to situations that cause disturbance, that interferes with what we expect to happen or would prefer to happen. When our reaction is “Ah well! Can’t do much about that ...” and leave it alone, we are unlikely to stay stuck pondering, analysing, monitoring the presented concern. We don’t dwell on the matter that would, otherwise, turn it into something more concerning.

But if we stay focused on the issue, we give it room to grow and deepen. It becomes a battle. Persist with this, and the original issue eventually becomes something we believe to be insurmountable. And as human beings, we tend to believe we have to fight a battle - “anything less proves we are weak”. Stoicism is good – at the right time and when reasoned and logical. When being stoic proves unhelpful, it’s time to look elsewhere for a solution.

Being stoic is an emotionally driven trap that many find themselves caught up in through no “fault” or “blame” attributable to them. It’s simply how things sometimes are. And because we have the brain and body physiology that we do, neurotransmitters and hormones go somewhat haywire worsening how we feel, often leading to overwhelm. It’s very unpleasant at best.

Each one of us has our own “modus operandi” – our own “way of being”, of thinking, feeling and acting / reacting. Looking beneath all this and challenging it is precisely what CBT helps us do.

Debbie Featherstone MSc Psychotherapy & Tinnitus Management Specialist

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