Therapeutic listening is an “evidence-based auditory intervention intended to support individuals who experience challenges with sensory processing dysfunction, listening, attention, and communication.”
“Therapeutic Listening is not a listening therapy approach that consists of one program that must be followed in a certain order. The various albums included in Therapeutic Listening can be arranged in a number of different sequences to address a client’s specific clinical picture and goals. Unlike other listening therapy programs, Therapeutic Listening programs are not formulaic, and cannot be mapped out at the beginning of therapy. Instead, they are more like a dialogue between therapist and client where progressions are based on practical guidelines and on how the client responds to each music selection.”
Who developed Therapeutic Listening?
Therapeutic Listening is based on ideas from the Tomatis Listening Program, Auditory Integration Training – AIT (Berard) and Samonas (Steinbach) and also a Sensory Integrative Framework (Jean Ayres). Therapeutic Listening was developed by Occupational Therapist, Sheila Frick who is the founder of Vital Links (www.vitallinks.net). Sheila has extensive training and experience in working with individuals with sensory processing disorders.
How Therapeutic Listening Works?
Therapeutic listening works by stimulating the vestibular-cochlear system, therefore enhancing the accuracy of the sensory information that this system sends to its multiple neural pathways within the nervous system. The vestibular-cochlear system was the first to develop in utero and provides a foundation for space and time organization for all other sensory systems. The digitally altered soundtracks that are played through special headphones when a person participates in Therapeutic Listening appears to set up the nervous system, preparing the ground for emergent skills. The music causes the muscles in the middle ear to contract, helping to discriminate and modulate sound input. In addition, there are tiny bones in the middle ear that vibrate when sound is provided, stimulating the movement (vestibular) and hearing (auditory) sensory receptors in the inner ear. This sensory information is sent throughout the central nervous system causing a multitude of reactions and improving the integration between the brainstem and the limbic system which in turn improves posture, balance, coordination, integration of both sides of the body, visual-spatial skills, emotional regulation and motor planning.
Who benefits from Therapeutic Listening?
- Regulating sleep patterns
- Restricted diet and eating patterns/habits
- Reduced attention and difficulties sustaining concentration for tasks e.g. school work
- Communication difficulties, delayed speech development
- Regulating emotional and behavioral responses e.g. tantrums, anxiety, flattened emotional responses/expressions
- Irregularities in toilet training
- Reduced social skills, engagement and reduced self-esteem & confidence
- Delayed or awkward motor skills; coordination, planning and balance
- Handwriting difficulties
- Visual perceptual difficulties
- Disorganization, impulsive behaviors or anxiety
- Autism, Aspergers and ADD/ADHD
- Sensory Processing Disorders
- Downs Syndrome
- Learning Difficulties
What are the benefits of Therapeutic Listening?
When Therapeutic Listening is coupled with a sensory integration framework it enhances the emergence of:
- Attention & focus
- Decreased tactile hypersensitivity or defensiveness
- Decreased oral hypersensitivity with increased exploration and acceptance of different foods
- Improved self-regulatory behavior such as a more regulated sleep cycle, more regulated hunger-thirst cycle, more regulated such-swallow-breathe pattern, more regulated respiratory control and decreased stress
- Improved balance
- Improved coordination of movement within the environment
- Increased postural organization
- Increased motor skills, both gross and fine
- Improved bilateral motor patterns
- “Emergence” of motor planning
- Improved spatial-temporal organization
- Improved handwriting
- Improved visual-motor skills
- Improved timing of motor execution
- Increased and more elaborate social interactions, with better “timing”
- Discrimination of the dimensionality and directionality of spatial concepts
- Improved components of communication such as greater range of non-verbal communication, improved/clearer articulation, greater emotional and verbal expression and improvements in pragmatic language