British Tinnitus Association Conference Talk

Author: Stephen Guy

Sometimes the things we take for granted can cause us the most upset when we realise they no longer work the way they once did. Our hearing is no exception, and for many people, the impact that tinnitus has on them can be a life-changing experience. So what is tinnitus; The British Tinnitus Association explains it as ‘the sensation of hearing noises in your ear or head when there is no external cause’. The BTA’s aim then is to help those suffering with the condition through a range of approaches by offering support and information. One approach used to great effect this year was through their UK conference/ expo which was held on the 15th September at Aston University entitled Talking Tinnitus. The event hosted a variety of exhibitions and stalls, providing advice and products to assist people, in dealing with their tinnitus. In addition, specialist speakers were invited to the event who spoke on various ways of understanding how tinnitus works, or methods of dealing with its effects.

Counselling was one such subject that the association wanted to provide further information on, especially how it could help and be accessed by those people with tinnitus. Initially, The NCS was approached to provide a speaker on the topic and as an accredited member of the society, I was asked if I wanted to do it. Though I don’t have tinnitus myself, it is an issue I am all too familiar with because of the family members and friends I know who suffer from it; which has given me some insight into the distress and disruption it can cause to a person’s way of life.

My talk then was entitled The what, How and Where of counselling and Tinnitus, and was divided into three sections, which was delivered as four thirty minute sessions over the day. Each section was broken down then in the following ways:

What is counselling: which focused on some of the types of counselling approaches that exist and what the main differences were. This briefly explained CBT, psychodynamic and the person-centred approach. It was interesting listening to people’s responses to this section as many people were unaware of the different counselling styles which exist and found it useful having them explained.

Section two, entitled: How useful is counselling for tinnitus – looked at the opportunities counselling afforded a client with tinnitus, to talk about their condition, and the emotional impact it had on them, in an environment where they could be heard, without being judged and to do so in a confidential setting, as well as develop possible strategies to support their situation.

The final section of the talk focused on Where to get support and explored what to look for when seeking out a counsellor, and how the National Counselling Society could help in doing so. Information was presented about the NCS website and ‘find a counsellor’ pages and clear reference was made about choosing a practitioner who is on an Accredited Register which has been vetted and approved by the Professional Standards Authority such as that provided by the NCS.

With the first talk at 9.00am and the last at 3.00pm, there was a good audience turnout and response to their content and relevance. Talking about counselling at the event then was successful and removed some of the stigmas around what it was, and how it could be utilised by tinnitus sufferers.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day for me, where I was able to talk about counselling, and learn more about tinnitus myself, by visiting the exhibition stalls and other talks presented, as well as being part of the BTA conference itself.


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