FAQs about TRT
What does tinnitus retraining therapy mean?
We work with you to retrain the subconscious (subcortical) parts of the brain to ignore the sound of tinnitus and to achieve the stage in which the client is no longer annoyed by the tinnitus. The achievement of this primary goal paves the way for the secondary goal in that once the tinnitus signal is no longer annoying, the period of time that tinnitus is perceived becomes briefer.
Is the counseling a form of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy or biofeedback?
No, directive counseling provides the client with extensive information regarding the structures and function of the auditory pathways and how this information pertains to tinnitus/hyperacusis. A great deal of time is spent explaining the habituation model and how retraining therapy works in reducing tinnitus annoyance and perception and eliminating hyperacusis. The counseling sessions are a fundamental part of the treatment process.
What is the role of environmental sound?
Environmental sound from radios, TVs, air purifiers, fans, air conditioners, or table top sound machines is used at low levels, not for the purpose of covering (masking) tinnitus but to help bring about changes in the lower levels of the brain and auditory system. It reduces the contrast between the tinnitus sound and complete silence and makes it harder for the brain to “keep track” of the sound of the tinnitus.
What are the devices and what do they look like?
The devices used in retraining therapy are called “sound generators.” They look similar to behind-the-ear hearing aids. They are small instruments and are usually fit to both ears. They should not interfere with normal conversation, situations requiring concentration or the ability to talk on the telephone.
Do I need the devices?
Not everyone needs the devices. After the initial evaluation and the category of tinnitus or hyperacusis has been determined, each client will be given recommendations regarding individual treatment.
Can I just buy the devices?
The devices are used to speed up the process of habituation. Directive counseling is fundamental to the retraining process and, therefore, its success. If ear level devices are purchased alone, it is unlikely the client will achieve improvement; without proper instruction, tinnitus and hyperacusis may become worse.
I was using tinnitus maskers without effect. What is the difference between tinnitus maskers and noise generators?
Although in some cases masking can provide tinnitus relief, the goal of this approach is to cover tinnitus, making it inaudible. When the device is removed tinnitus often returns, sometimes requiring higher levels of masking noise which can be uncomfortably loud and potentially unsafe. In our program the devices are used to generate low level sound that does not cover the sound of tinnitus. In order for the brain to habituate to the sound of tinnitus, the tinnitus must be heard and not masked. Generating sound that mixes with the tinnitus will assist in removing the emotional response to tinnitus and then the perception of tinnitus itself .
I am using hearing aids. How can I use other devices?
Depending on the type of hearing aids that are being used it may be possible to work with your current amplification. If so, you will not need any other devices.
What kind of audiological tests are performed? Will it hurt my ears? What if I don’t have tinnitus when I’m tested?
The tests include an audiogram and several specific tests which will help us assess the category of your tinnitus and/or hyperacusis. The testing begins at a low level and gradually increases in loudness, so no part of the testing will be painful. Great care is taken not to exceed individual tolerance levels. If tinnitus is not present on the day of testing it will NOT influence the success of the treatment.
How long does treatment take?
TRT can take up to 12-24 months. TRT is not a quick fix; however, it may be possible to experience changes within six months.
Will I be cured?
Tinnitus retraining therapy is a treatment, not a medical cure. You will no longer be bothered or annoyed by your tinnitus. However, if you concentrate in a quiet room it is possible that you will hear it. In addition, hyperacusis can just disappear.
What is the guarantee that I will get better?
There is no guarantee, however, an 80% success rate has been achieved with our clients at CHC and that level is also reported by other facilities including the University of Maryland and Emory University’s Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Centers. This is a higher success rate compared to other treatments available.
How long is the audiological/tinnitus evaluation?
This visit consists of a two-hour audiological/tinnitus evaluation followed by a one-hour counseling session. If sound generators are recommended, the ears are then measured and devices are ordered and fit during a one-hour session within two to three weeks.
How frequently do I need to return to CHC for services??
There are several follow-up visits and scheduled telephone conversations. Clients return in three weeks, and then at two, three and six months and then finally in six-month intervals up to two years. For individuals who do not live in the New York area, follow-up sessions can be done remotely, via phone or Skype, as long as the initial evaluation takes place in our New York office.
Is this treatment covered by insurance?
In general, no. Some insurers may cover part of the evaluation and sometimes the devices. Medicare does not cover it. You may call or write your insurance company and check with them as to your coverage and possible reimbursement.
Schedule a consultation
You can schedule an in-office tinnitus consultation with audiologist and clinical supervisor Susan Adams by contacting our appointment desk at 917-305-7766 (v). Should you wish to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation with Susan Adams to learn more about our treatment program, please email us or call 917-305-7751 (v).
Not a New York resident? Consider visiting New York City for your initial tinnitus evaluation, and then all follow-up sessions can be conducted remotely via phone. Clients who receive follow-up treatment over the phone (versus in-office visits) experience the same program success rate of 80%.