And although it's no miracle cure, nor does it offer results overnight, the outlook for those who stick with a treatment program is largely positive. But what exactly is this therapy, and what does it involve? 

And more importantly, is there a time limit on when you should start your retraining efforts? 

The Two-Pronged Approach

Generally speaking, cognitive retraining therapy for tinnitus combines two separate techniques into a single process. On one side, there's counseling with an experienced professional trained in the treatment of tinnitus as a condition. On the other, there's the actual 'retraining;' teaching your brain to recategorize the incessant ringing as a 'non-important sound' like the hum of an air conditioner or the sound of a computer's cooling fans. 

The most significant drawback is that at the current juncture, there's a shortage of trained professionals. Although more therapists and specialists are emerging with each passing day, there still aren't enough to go around. Depending on where you live, this could mean either a long wait time or a large bill, neither of which is particularly ideal. 

If you can't find a specialist, your best bet might be to speak to an unspecialized cognitive-behavioral therapist and see if they can provide you with treatment. You can also try treating your tinnitus on your own through the use of a white noise machine or sound masking device. Neither method is likely to be as effective as full therapy, but each still has the potential to help. 

What is Cognitive Retraining Therapy Like?

The best way to describe cognitive retraining therapy is to compare it to wearing a new set of clothes. At first, you might be aware of every sensation, from weight to rough edges. Gradually, however, you become acclimated to what you're wearing until you eventually no longer notice it. That's what cognitive retraining seeks to do with your brain.

Since there's currently no known way to eliminate the shrill ringing that accompanies tinnitus, your therapist will instead work with you to push it into your subconscious. It's important to note that there are some variations in the approach to treatment and that there are multiple sound types and delivery methods that have been proven effective. Although as mentioned, generic white noise is a common starting point, it's far from the only option; you may find different soundscapes more effective.

Other common therapeutic tactics that might play into your treatment include mindfulness training, self-administered sound blocking, and cognitive techniques to help you reduce negative thoughts. 

The most important advice we can give is that it's never too late to start treatment. Although we'd generally advise seeking therapy for your tinnitus the moment the condition manifests, cognitive behavioral therapy can still help even if you've suffered from the condition for a while. And even if it doesn't completely address your symptoms, even a small reduction in severity can make a world of difference.