The Listening Centres

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  • GENERAL INTRODUCTION 
    to the Listening Therapy

    1 WHAT IS THE LISTENING THERAPY?
    2 ARE HEARING AND LISTENING THE SAME?
    3 WHAT IS AFFECTED BY LISTENING THERAPY?
    4 WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF THE LISTENING THEAPY?
    5 HOW LONG DOES THE THERAPY TAKE?
    6 WHAT IS THE USUAL PROGRESSION OF THE THERAPY?
    7 WHAT DOES ONE DO WHILE LISTENING?
    8 WHAT DOES ONE EXPERIENCE WITH THE THERAPY?
    9 WHAT CAN PARENTS EXPECT FOR THEIR CHILD FROM LISTENING THERAPY?
    10 HOW LONG BEFORE RESULTS ARE SEEN IN A  LISTENING CENTRE CLIENT?
    11 HOW ARE THE IMPROVEMENTS RECOGNISED?
    12 ARE THERE OTHER REASONS FOR CAREFUL MONITORING OF THERAPY?
    13 ARE THERE ANY NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS FROM THIS THERAPY?
    14 IS THIS THERAPY CONSIDERED A "CURE"?
    15 WHERE IS THE LISTENING THERAPY IN USE TODAY?


    WHAT IS THE LISTENING THERAPY?

    The Listening Therapy is a sensori-neural integration training based on over 50 years of research and experience of the French ENT, Alfred Tomatis, MD. Dr. Tomatis has dedicated his life to the study of the function of the ear in perception, communication and the multiple problems associated with impaired listening ability. His work has led to the development of a new science of Audio-Psycho-Phonology and to an innovative Listening Therapy.

    ARE HEARING AND LISTENING THE SAME?

    No, hearing is the unconscious taking in of all the surrounding sound - listening is a conscious focus on a particular source. Unlike the passive reception of sound, which is hearing, Listening Therapy focuses on listening, which is an active, focused interpretation of sound. Basically, the Listening Therapy works on normalising attention and perception. The ability to use the ear to voluntarily direct and focus attention on one sound while screening out other distracters is what is referred to as proper listening.

    WHAT IS AFFECTED BY LISTENING THERAPY?

    Dr. Tomatis noticed that his patients experienced unanticipated psychological, behavioural and physiological benefits when exposed to music with heavy concentration of high frequency sound vibrations. Their muscles relaxed dramatically; they felt energised; attention, concentration and memory faculties improved; cochlea-vestibular and psycho-motor responses improved; and many types of learning problems were dramatically lessened. In thousands of case studies, Dr. Tomatis determined that those who could benefit from high-frequency sound therapy all had a common problem; regardless of their other presenting symptoms, they had poor listening skills. According to Dr. Tomatis, a listening problem, which is not the result of an immature inner ear or damaged sensori-neural system, can have a psychological origin (as a result of emotional trauma, illness, accident, etc.)

    WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF THE Listening Therapy?

    This innovative therapy uses sound, mostly music (and primarily Mozart and Gregorian Chant) to re-educate the ear to the natural state of proper listening that is a basic function of the human body. The method requires the use of a sophisticated electronic apparatus, called the "Electronic Ear" to retrain the ear to properly analyse the range of frequencies which humans are capable of hearing. The Electronic Ear progressively filters specially manufactured music tapes, up to 8000 Hz. Special headsets employ both air and bone conduction. The Electronic Ear delays the air conduction (hearing with the ears) signals behind the bone conduction (hearing with the body) signals while filtering the music to stimulate the muscles of the middle ear to listen better. The ears are re-awakened to the complete range of sounds a human can hear. The effect is actually both relaxing and energising for the mind and body.

    HOW LONG DOES THE THERAPY TAKE?

    Listening Therapy is intense but relatively short-term. The average length of treatment is 150 tapes. This usually requires 5 to 6 months to complete in the following manner:

    13 days
    (52 tapes)

    Then a
    3-5 week
    Break

    7 days
    (28 tapes)

    Then a
    3-5 week
    Break

    7 days
    (28 tapes)

    Then a
    3-5 week
    Break

    7 days
    (28 tapes)

    WHAT IS THE USUAL PROGRESSION OF THE THERAPY?

    A Listening Test is given to determine the client's listening abilities and to assist the Listening Consultant in the development of the individualised program. Other pre-testing is done at this time as well as the collection of behavioural observations and personal histories.

    The Listening Therapy begins with a 15 day session (2 hours each day) of progressively filtered music. Each day the client listens to an average of 4 one-half hour tapes. A second Listening Test is given after the first 8 days and a third test after the 15 th. day of therapy. The specially designed headphones are equipped with the usual air conduction apparatus and also with a bone conduction "speaker" that stimulates the bone conduction portion of the person's sensory reception. The stimulation is sent to both ears evenly, then is progressively reduced in the left ear until there is a balance of 7/10 for the first phases of the program.

    The program then calls for a 4 to 5 week break (or period of integration). This gives the ear muscles time to adjust to the improved level of functioning. A series of 8 day sessions continues the therapy, interspersed with the more or less monthly breaks or integration periods. Before and after each of the 8 day sessions, a Listening Test is given to monitor the changes that have taken place in the listening ability during the therapy phases as well as during the integration periods. These tests also monitor the need for any individualised changes in the program. Improvement is measured at this time in a variety of ways including parent and teacher reports, some interim testing on the same measures as were pre-tested, and structured and unstructured behavioural observations during the treatment.

    Once the highest therapeutic level of filtering is reached (tapes at 8000 Hz and above), the client stays at that level until they begin to normalise their listening skills and demonstrate an increased desire to communicate. For children, this is the point at which a specially made tape of the mother's voice, reading a story is introduced. The tape is filtered to 8000 Hz so that the children do not realise that they are listening to their mother's voice.

    During the third phase, the frequencies are re-introduced to the ear by the same stages of un-filtering until the full range of the music is listened to again - but with a grater degree of clarity. The reintroduction of these lower sounds helps the person to not only hear these individual frequency levels better, but to discriminate between the different sounds. Along with this process, the balance of stimulation in the headphones is gradually changed to 1/10, a level of 1 on the left while it stays at 10 on the right to increase the person's right ear dominance.

    In the fourth sessions, an Active Phase is introduced into the treatment whereby the individual reads aloud into a microphone or repeats words and phrases to learn to self-monitor his voice and further improves his listening skills. Reading aloud for 20 minutes a day is recommended to continue the benefits after the program is completed. In addition, there are a number of home exercises that are given for the client to do during the integration period.

    The post-testing is done when the Listening Therapy program is completed which is usually after four to six months. The measures that were pre-tested are re-administered and new observations are gathered from therapists, parents, teachers, etc. After another six month period, which is one year from the beginning of the program, the tests and observations are administered again. This data is compared with the pre-tests and interim tests and analysed for resulting outcomes.

    WHAT DOES ONE DO WHILE LISTENING?

    When he or she has the headphones on and is listening to the tapes, the client is encouraged to draw, work jigsaw puzzles, paint, play games, talk quietly, even sleep and engage in other activities specifically designed to integrate reflex and tactile sensory systems. Reading or other verbal/visual symbolic activity during the Passive Phase is not allowed.

    WHAT DOES ONE EXPERIENCE WITH THE THERAPY?

    The Listening Therapy basically consists of music (mostly Mozart) played through the Electronic Ear into headphones that the client listens to for 2 hours a day whenever she/he is in a session. What the client actually hears is regular music (and there is a full range with plenty high frequency stimulation due to the Mozart selections) that is filtered, little by little until they may notice that there is less and less low frequency sound. The music sounds normal for a while and then becomes gradually more "tinny or scratchy." After a while, the person doesn't think of it as music and pretty much ignores the sound while she/he goes about the other activities mentioned in the preceding paragraph. It is not necessary to "listen" to the music. It is more like background sound that is usually ignored as the person is busy painting, playing or napping. It is possible to sense the bone conduction stimulation but it is hardly even noticed. This first phase is called "the Musical Sonic Return."

    In the second phase, what one hears is only high frequency sounds, filtered to simulate what a child actually hears in utero from 5 months of gestation until birth - (which is actually the mother's voice, filtered through fluid). During this phase of Filtered Sound, along with other music, the child usually listens to the actual mother's voice on a special tape that is made by her for this use, if possible.

    The third phase is the Sonic Rebirth, where the lower frequencies are added back into the music in the reverse of the process that was used for the Musical Sonic Return. The Listener hears the music change back and forth as the lower frequencies are reintroduced. Sometimes this too goes unnoticed for the most part as the person by this time is used to having the strange sounds in their ears. Every now and then, one will remark, "That sounds better!"

    The Pre-Language and the Language phases are considered the active phases of the program. With the music tapes, filtered and unfiltered, the program calls for the use of a microphone that is plugged into the Electronic Ear. The person either listens to the tape and repeats what is heard, (songs, words, or sentences), or reads into the microphone, as he hears himself with the earphones. This phase trains the person to hear himself and to self-correct his speech. This also teaches the person to stimulate his own ear with his voice so that the gains made during the Listening Therapy treatment will be maintained.

    WHY DOES LISTENING THERAPY WORK?

    Sound waves are known to affect the body differently depending on their frequency. Low frequency vibrations affect the body and vestibular function; sounds that cannot even be heard, can be felt. Mid-range frequency vibrations are those of speech and communication, while high-frequency vibrations energise and affect mental and psychological operations.

    During the Listening Therapy Program, the music in the specialised headphones directs the stimulation to the sensori-neural pathways from the ear to the brain stem to the brain. Listening Therapy uses filtered sound but the Electronic Ear provides the gating mechanism which is an integral and very important part of the treatment.

    From a neuropsychological viewpoint, Dr. Tomatis thinks that this stimulation works to correct immature or incorrectly wired sensori-neural connections. Attention, speed of information processing and reaction time are directly affected.

    WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LISTENING THERAPY?

    The Listening Therapy has over 50 years of research and clinical trials invested in the development and improvement of Listening Therapy for use with a wide range of individuals from infants to the elderly. Case studies and clinical trials support its use with learning problems of both oral and written language and verbal expression, attention deficits, memory problems, and problems with auditory discrimination and processing. Auditory processing problems in particular are significantly improved.

    The Listening Therapy has wide application to problems of motivation, attention, anxiety, stress, depressions and mental fatigue. Behavioural problems, balance, gross/fine motor coordination, laterality, body image, and self esteem have responded well to the treatment. Parents have reported normalisation of sleep patterns and energy expenditure in hyper/hypo-active children.

    The Listening Therapy was the first to document clear improvement in children with autism and pervasive developmental delay (PDD). With these children, the results are dramatic although the treatment time is much longer than the usual since their needs are much more complex.

    Additional benefits have been documented in the areas of business communication, language studies, voice training and musical instrument training. It is important to note that there are no negative effects from the use of this method on any population yet discovered.

    WHO ARE CANDIDATES FOR LISTENING THERAPY?

    Along with children and adults who can use the benefits of the Listening Therapy listed in the section above, impressive improvements are achieved in those who are diagnosed with:

    • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

    • Auditory Comprehension Disorder.

    • Auditory Processing Problems.

    • Learning Disabilities (LD).

    • Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD)

    • Autism - Autistic symptoms

    • Head injury that has attention problems or vestibular symptoms.

    WHAT CAN PARENTS EXPECT FOR THEIR CHILD FROM LISTENING THERAPY?

    Some of the benefits of  Listening Therapy for children include the list below in that the child:

    • Is less distracted by extraneous stimuli.

    • Listens better before they respond.

    • Reads and writes better.

    • Follows instructions better.

    • Stays focused on tasks longer.

    • Completes more tasks.

    • Talks at more appropriate times.

    • Has better voice quality.

    • Communicates better.

    • Interrupts less.

    • Is better organised in his/her thoughts and activities.

    • Needs less supervision during school work

    • Is more self-directed.

    • Has a better sense of rhythm.

    • Improves in ability to sing on key.

    • Day dreams less.

    • Is better coordinated/less clumsy

    • Fidgets less and stay in their seats better in school.

    HOW LONG BEFORE RESULTS ARE SEEN IN A  LISTENING THERAPY CLIENT?

    Many of the benefits are seen in just a few days and weeks and that is just the beginning. The person continues to improve all during the therapy process and for several years. There are usually enough immediate improvements to satisfy the client and the parent during the therapy process but the benefits continue on during the integration periods and long after the therapy sessions are over. There is usually a yearly 8-day session or "boost" provided for the first few years to assure that the gains are maintained and for follow-up information collection.

    HOW ARE THE IMPROVEMENTS RECOGNISED?

    While some of the improvements are startling and amazing, so many are very subtle and unnoticeable to the casual observer that the changes in the person will occur without comment unless pointed out by one who can remember the previous condition and bring it to the notice of the client or parent. These subtle changes prove the necessity for in-depth pre-testing, history and observations from reliable sources. The improvement looked for (i.e. in a child's speech, or in reading ability) may overshadow an equal improvement in ability to sing on key or to handle interpersonal relations. The handwriting that is so closely watched may receive more applause than the unmentioned fact that the child is able to learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle for the first time after several years of trying unsuccessfully. The child's ability to control himself better, listen in class and remain in a chair at school or at mealtime at home may not be connected to the subtle change in sleep patterns and the gradual decrease in bed wetting.

    ARE THERE OTHER REASONS FOR CAREFUL MONITORING OF THERAPY?

    Yes, and not necessarily of that much importance to the client or parent. Other reasons for good pre-testing and post-testing is for the Therapist and the Listening Therapy network for their own continuing research and development. It has been found that the problems gradually decrease in severity (much like a headache or a sore finger) until they are non-existent, leaving the person who suffered from this problem or the parent to forget there was such a problem in the first place. People tend to forget how bad a difficulty was when it is no longer causing turmoil in their lives. Parents will tend to say, "Oh, my child never had a really bad problem." or will say that "I guess he just finally grew out of it." For the most part, this is an understandable reaction and in the busy life that all lead today, there is little time spent on the last crisis when there is always something else to attend to. But to the Therapist, the comparison of the two bodies of information tell much about the efficacy of the therapy that can be related in a precise form. The results of the therapy for the individual as well as for groups of similar clients and the importance of these findings are not lost in time or memory. The scores on pre/post tests and the compared behavioural observations carry much more weight than a statement that "Johnny can read better" or "Jane is much more sure of herself."

    ARE THERE ANY NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS FROM THIS THERAPY?

    There have never been any reported effects that were not positive and encouraging since this therapy is non-invasive, uses no drugs or chemical and does not "program" anyone's thinking. The real beauty of the therapy is that it re-educates the ear and returns the person to a natural state of awareness and integration. Dr. Tomatis believes that proper listening is everyone's birthright. The  Listening Therapy just helps the person reclaim the condition that is their natural state.

    IS THIS THERAPY CONSIDERED A "CURE"?

    No more than exercise is a cure for unused or flabby muscles. The Listening Therapy exercises the muscles in the middle ear and returns them to their proper state of wellness. It does not mask the symptoms of the disability, it aids the body in healing itself. If a trauma to a leg muscle caused a disability and a problem with walking, a crutch or a cast or pain medication would help the person to walk but would not cure the problem - they would only serve to add to the atrophy of the muscle. Exercising and rehabilitating the muscle would return the leg to its proper function. This therapy doesn't cure anything. The body "cures" itself. The Listening Therapy is just the tool used to assist the body in becoming what it can be.

    WHERE IS THE LISTENING THERAPY IN USE TODAY?

    There are over 200  Listening Therapy Centres in the world today; many are found in Europe (U.K., France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Holland). Several, which have existed for a number of years are in Canada, Mexico and U.S.A. Japan recently opened a number of clinics. The list is world-wide.

    For further information or an initial consultation call the Listening Centre (Lewes) Ltd

    Further Details on Method: DIY Listening Therapy

     

     

     

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