Revolutionizing Tinnitus Treatment with Third-Wave CBT
US and European clinical guidelines recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as the only treatment for tinnitus. However, the traditional approach to CBT for tinnitus, popularized in the 1990s, may not be the most effective. Third-wave CBT, which emphasizes acceptance, mindfulness, and values-directed action, has shown to be more successful in reducing tinnitus distress.
Promoting Tinnitus Habituation
Habituation is the natural process through which the brain gradually reduces its emotional reaction and attention to tinnitus. CBT shows individuals how to promote and maintain tinnitus habituation, which makes it easier to live with the condition.
Tinnitus Acceptance versus Change
Acceptance of tinnitus does not mean resigning to a future of suffering. Instead, it involves acknowledging that control over the sounds of tinnitus may not be possible and committing efforts to adapting, coexisting, and moving on. Tinnitus acceptance is a practical decision that helps individuals move forward with recovery.
Therapeutic exposure reverses patterns of avoidance that drive tinnitus distress and promotes confidence and habituation. By facing fears and turning avoidance into approach, individuals can practice accepting uncomfortable feelings while keeping their attention on what is important in the present moment.
Mindfulness of Sound: the Practice of Tinnitus Acceptance
Mindfulness significantly reduces tinnitus distress by allowing individuals to experience unwanted aspects of life, such as tinnitus and uncomfortable emotions, without being driven by thoughts and judgments. Practicing mindfulness of sound involves hearing tinnitus in a mindful, accepting manner without making it the center of attention.
Flexible thinking involves viewing problems from different perspectives and choosing the one that best fits. With tinnitus, the recovery perspective redirects focus from controlling tinnitus to adapting, habituating, and moving on.
Values-directed, committed action is the heart of modern CBT for tinnitus. By clarifying values and choosing behaviors that are meaningful but may at times be uncomfortable, individuals can take action to change their response to tinnitus and gradually rebuild lives worth living.
Effective and Efficient Tinnitus Treatment
When done correctly, CBT for tinnitus is an effective and efficient method for reducing tinnitus distress and getting individuals back into their lives. Visit Dr. Hubbard’s Tinnitus Website for more information.