Therapeutic Listening for Parents

Helping parents understand Therapeutic Listening®

We do our best to help parents by including answers to common questions about Therapeutic Listening as a tool. However, if you have unanswered questions, please contact your occupational therapist who can best assist you. If you do not have a therapist trained in Therapeutic Listening but would like to connect with one, please visit our Provider Directory (coming soon) which is intended to help connect clients and therapists.

What is Therapeutic Listening?

Developed by Vital Links, Therapeutic Listening is research based tool for treating people of all ages who have difficulty with processing sensory information, listening, attention, and communication.

Therapeutic Listening is a sound-based intervention often implemented as part of a comprehensive, multi-faceted therapy program, which encompasses much more than just the ears but the whole-body. Like other sensory systems, the auditory system does not work in isolation. Neurologically it is connected to all levels of brain function and as a result has a vast range of influence. How we listen impacts not only our overall physiology, but also our behavior.

A Family’s Experience with Therapeutic Listening – Kristine & Jason

Parents, teachers, and therapists have seen significant results by using Therapeutic Listening including:
  • Increased Focus and Attention
  • Better Moods
  • Improved Handwriting
  • Greater Tolerance to Noise
  • Fewer Tantrums
  • Less Anxiety
  • Improved Communication Skills

What makes this music unique?

We all have personal experiences of how music impacts how we feel, how we interact with others and the world around us. Music causes our body, our brain, and our ears to respond in both conscious and unconscious ways. Think about listening to a song and how you might start swaying or tapping your toe without even thinking about it. Therapeutic Listening uses the inherent musical properties to help individuals who have difficulty organizing themselves and/or dealing with the environment to be more successful.

The music used for Therapeutic Listening is different from any other music you have heard. By using music specifically altered to harness the parts of the brain that attend to and process sound effectively, Therapeutic Listening helps listeners become better able to focus on and engage with the relevant aspects of their world with a fuller presence.

Therapeutic Listening offers a wide variety of musical selections each modified to highlight the parts of the sound spectrum that would naturally capture your attention. Some selections include ambient sounds like birds chirping and frogs croaking in the jungle, while others include popular children’s selections or classical songs.

Each musical progression is individually selected and unique to your child. A therapist specifically trained in Therapeutic Listening will work with you to find a programming routine that works best for your child and the needs of your family.

A Family’s Experience with Therapeutic Listening – Karen & Brianna

What can I expect when I go to a therapist trained in this method? What is my role in this process?

Your child will be evaluated by a therapist who is specially trained in understanding the effect that this electronically modified music will have on your child. The therapist will be looking for changes in attention, body posture, sleeping and eating, ability to focus and be organized, etc. Typically, through gathering a developmental and sensory motor history and clinical observations made during the evaluation, the therapist will select a starting musical progression that will best meet your child’s needs.

You will be given a listening protocol to carry out at home on a daily basis for a length of time appropriate for your child. An important feature of this sound-based intervention is developing a relationship with your therapist to dialogue about the impact Therapeutic Listening is having on aspects of daily life that are important to you. Caregivers play an important role in observing the changes the music has over time and helping to fine tune the programming for their child. Each child is unique and the music progression will evolve depending on what the provider and the parent observes to be most effective for the child.

What is the time and commitment? Do we need special equipment?

As Therapeutic Listening is not a program there is not one standard progression or length of participation. Each child is given a protocol that works best for them. Typically, it is recommended that a progression involve two listening sessions of 30 minutes each day using the recommended musical selection provided by your therapist.  After a two week listening cycle, the therapist will switch the musical selections as changes are seen and new goals are set.

The musical selections are electronically modified and need to be listened to using a certain type of headphones that we specifically designed for Therapeutic Listening. The listening times and progressions selected for Therapeutic Listening are based off of the specifications of these headphones, insuring quality and consistency in the frequency range, harmonics, and high impedance.

What should the therapist/the caregiver be looking for?

Providers/caregivers should be noticing how the musical choices help the child tune into and engage with his/her environment not just with the ears, but with the whole body. The impact of Therapeutic Listening is often widespread positively impacting participation at home, school, and in play. Practitioners and caregivers often report seeing improvements in attention and focus, sensory defensiveness, energy levels, mood, transitions, sleeping, and posture and movement.

A Family’s Experience with Therapeutic Listening – Carrie & Gray

Does Therapeutic Listening take the place of other occupational therapy interventions?

Therapeutic Listening is not a standalone treatment tool. It is a powerful sound-based auditory intervention that is intended to be incorporated into a larger whole-body, sensory integrative treatment perspective. Therapeutic Listening is ideally part of a comprehensive clinic, school, and home based treatment progression that systematically helps the child to not only cope, but thrive across environments. In fact, practitioners often report that Therapeutic Listening increases the rate of improvements seen in their clients.