We were asked to plan a set of Workshops/group counselling for people experiencing tinnitus. It was agreed to undertake 4 Workshop sessions, each of which would be for 2 hours per month.
There was a lot of planning involved for each Workshop/group counselling, but the hard work resulted in a set of 4 excellent sessions. We worked closely with Margot Boss, Hearing Therapist from Chesterfield Royal Hospital, both in planning the Workshops and at each Workshop Session.
Each session was flexible and interactive, allowing participants to share their experiences and to be fully involved in discussions.
The group was relatively small which was ideal as everyone interacted freely and became friends and no one felt intimated in sharing their story, their thoughts and anxieties about tinnitus.
We also encouraged them to bring along their husbands/partners and one lady brought along her husband who readily participated in the discussions.
The basic format was:-
At the start of the session we gave everyone an Advice Sheet which was to make them aware that it is essential to have a proper diagnosis and the appropriate procedure from GP to ENT and Audiology in order to have their hearing checked properly.
At our first session we gave everyone the opportunity to talk about their tinnitus experience and what they wanted to achieve from the workshops. Then we talked about:
What is tinnitus? Understanding hearing and tinnitus Tinnitus and how we respond
The subject of hearing equipment was covered because the majority of the participants had, in fact, been given hearing aids and some of them were experiencing problems adjusting to them.
At the end of the session we gave them some homework to do and they certainly took this on board.
The second session started with feedback from the homework. One lady in particular had put a lot of effort into her homework and a lively discussion followed with word association and tinnitus.
This session covered perception of tinnitus and exploring indepth psychological responses to tinnitus. We asked the group to think about their reactions to tinnitus which we put on a flip chart, recognising self-defeating thoughts.
We then challenged the thoughts that fuel their tinnitus and their unrealistic expectations and discussed ways in which they could think differently. We discussed with them how to develop managing tools and techniques that would help to change their negative thoughts and beliefs, using our case studies where appropriate.
The session finished with a relaxation routine based on imagery. Then set their homework.
This session centred on sound enrichment both as a practical measure and psychological tool and also discussed ways in which to help them to have a good night’s sleep. In this session we used resources for sound therapy borrowed from the BTA as well as CDs. No homework was given after this session as we encouraged them to experiment with sound.
At the final Workshop we went throughall the main points of our three previous sessions. A lively discussion took place and all questions were answered. They said that,not only had the workshops helped them to manage their tinnitus much better, but also the opportunity to talk openly to others and to understand that their reactions to tinnitus were experienced by others was invaluable to them.
What they found therapeutic was putting their thoughts down on paper; these thoughts changed over the sessions – which was positive proof that the sessions had been beneficial!
At all Sessions we used a visual presentation with positive imagery and helpful thoughts.
After all sessions we gave them resources so they could build up a portfolio of helpful hints, tips and techniques.
We gave them a feedback form after the last session which showed that the sessions had been very positive.