Listening is the ability to consciously use one’s ear for the purpose of communication.

Unfortunately, when listening is excessively disturbed, various problems concerning the possibility and desire to communicate efficiently with others will arise.
Indeed, as the saying goes, the worst kind of deafness is that of the person who doesn’t want to hear.

Let us recall that having good listening does not necessarily imply having good hearing. Listening is characterised at the same time by a real intention to communicate as well as by the quality of perception and interpretation of the acoustic message received.

Therefore, it is evaluated on the basis of how we use our hearing and not by its level of sensitivity.

Although the term ‘communication problems’ is indubitably very general, and although difficulties in communication can have very diverse and varied causes, the fact remains that a considerable proportion of these difficulties are rooted in proven distortions of the listening function.

Tomatis very clearly showed that these difficulties could be identified and assessed directly by evaluating the degree of overall distortion of the listening function.

In reality, this function is defined as the particular combination of a set of perceptive mechanisms, each corresponding to a specific dimension of listening. Each of these dimensions is itself revealed by an indicator which is measurable and which reflects the workings of the process it corresponds to. Together, these measurements define a particular combination of the activity of the various mechanisms constituting the listening function. This combination, which can be considered as an operating profile specific to every individual is called a “listening test”.

Seven principal dimensions constituting the listening function have been defined: the harmonic composition, the degree of adaptation, intrinsic selectivity, extrinsic selectivity, spatialisation, balance, and laterality. These parameters are first measured and then precisely explained during an initial consultation taking place in a Tomatis centre.

Thus, depending on the listening test, which represents a synthesis of the overall listening distortion, the difficulties in communication may take on very different forms.

For example, they can manifest themselves through an inability to accept and receive the sounds which surround us without perceiving them as aggressive towards us: the beeping of a car, the slamming of a door, the high noise volume in a restaurant, but also certain voices, such as that of a work colleague, a parent, a friend…

For some people, the disorder can be to do with a difficulty to quickly grasp the meaning of a verbal message, even when simple, although the latter is perfectly heard, and with a tendency to mobilise all of one’s resources of attention to verify if the interpretation of the same message is erroneous or correct.

For others, it will be an impossibility to use their voice as a true communication tool, due to a lack of control over its different prosodic components: intonation, inflexions, rhythm, intensity. Independently of any intention on the part of the speaker, the voice will be then be perceived as aggressive, cold, or devoid of any power of expression by the interlocutor receiving it.

These few examples give us an insight into the underlying consequences of listening problems: if the distortion in listening is too firmly engrained, it will entail the loss of the desire to listen which in turn will generate a decline in the desire or the will to communicate, whether because of resignation, discouragement or a lack of confidence resulting from difficulties communicating efficiently.

Consequently, one can understand the benefits a therapy based on educating listening which focuses on fully restoring relational and expressive ability in a person suffering from difficulties in communication.