The Tomatis Method


This method was invented fifty years ago by Dr Alfred Tomatis, a French Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. He was treating people with hearing damage caused by noise and noticed that these people also had motor, speech and psychological problems.
The aim of the Tomatis method is to improve the auditory system, people who can hear sounds may not be able to take in the full spectrum of these sounds, which means they might find it difficult to listen properly. According to Dr Tomatis this happens when muscles are not working properly and through auditory stimulation it is possible to retrain the muscles of the inner ear so that it can function without distortion.

Dr Tomatis believes that the ear has several functions:

- The initial purpose of the ear is to help grow the brain of the unborn child. Hearing is the first sense to be developed when the foetus is only a few months old, the foetus can hear its mother's voice in the womb and it is thought that it gets nourished by it.

- After birth the ear's role is to energise the neo-cortex of the brain, the area were the central nervous system is located. It is thought that if there is malfunction of the ear, the nervous system won't be able to digest information, which could damage communication, expression and social behaviour. The inner ear controls muscles, balance and co-ordination. It may be an important relay for all sensory information that our body sends to our brain since touch -vision- hearing are all interpreted through our vestibular-cochlea system (the part of the inner ear concerned with balance and body orientation is the vestibular and the part concerned with hearing is the cochlea). Dr Tomatis claims that the ear also plays a significant role in speech as it controls the voice: “the voice produces only what the ear can hear. Patients who undergo the treatment will find that their voice changes as they improve their listening capacities.

According to Dr Tomatis, hearing and listening is not the same: hearing implies a passive attitude whereas listening implies an active attitude. This can be noticed in children with attention deficit: these children usually find it difficult to read and concentrate and although they have very good hearing, their listening capabilities are very poor.

Hearing and listening capacities may not be the same in both ears, the Tomatis method is said to improve these capacities in the right ear as it is the one which has better control over the parameters of voice.

How does it work?

The tools used by the therapists are:
- An electronic device (the electronic ear) which can filter sounds.
- Special headphones which enable sound to be transmitted directly to the bones, as it is thought that people hear first through the bones in their ears and then the muscles.
- A microphone

The Tomatis method is based on sound stimulation, individuals listen to high frequency sounds which seem to stimulate the brain's neurons. Dr Tomatis believes this type of sound will have a positive effect on the central nervous system, individuals will feel more energised, they will concentrate better, learn better and will feel calmer at the same time. Low-frequency sounds have the opposite effects.

The sounds played include music (Mozart and Gregorian Chant) and speech, which can be filtered to produce high frequency sounds, according to Dr Tomatis a mother's voice can be filtered to sound as if it was heard in the womb.

The treatment consists of:
15 days of 2 hours a day of listening
3/5 weeks off
30 sessions over 8 consecutive days
4 weeks off
7 days of listening

Conditions that may respond to the Tomatis Method

Cerebral palsy
Children with learning difficulties
Downs syndrome

Although Dr Tomatis didn't create the method to treat autism it is said to have good results with this condition. Autistic children are very sensitive to sounds, when their listening skills are impaired they feel bombarded with many pieces of information which they are unable to filter and often cover their ears with their hands to cut themselves off the world. According to Pierre Sollier, Director at the Tomatis Mozart Center in California, when the Tomatis method is used in conjunction with other therapies, "about 60% of autistic children seem to respond positively to it".


Few studies have been conducted on the efficacy of the method. It is claimed that some of the positive effects noticed include increased eye contact, children start making sounds, they are more in touch with their environment. Stutt's study in Canada revealed that the therapy may lead to an increase in I.Q, better communication and reading skills and the ability to express verbally thoughts and feelings.
- Stutts H.A. (1983) The Tomatis method. A review of current research. Montreal: Mc Gill University

However, although the Academie de Medicine and the Academie des Sciences in France approved the work of Tomatis in 1957, that there is no guarantee that the therapy will work for everyone.

- Baumgaertel A. Alternative and controversial treatments for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatr Clin North Am 1999 Oct;46(5):977-992. “There is no scientific evidence to support the validity of vision therapy, oculovestibular treatment, or sound training (Tomatis method) as treatment modalities for ADHD. However, auditory stimulation with individualized music may help to improve situational performance in cognitive tasks.

- Gilmore T.M (1982) Results of a survey of children’s performance on a variety of psychological tests before and after completing the Tomatis program. Rexdale, Ontario:MDS Health Group Ltd.


There are over 25 Tomatis centres in the world

The Tomatis Centre U.K Ltd
3 Wallands Crescent
East Sussex BN7 2QT
Tel: 01273-474877
The centre was opened by Alex and Sally Smith after their son was treated at the Tomatis Centre in Paris.

Sound Listening & Learning Center (Tomatis USA)
301 E. bethany Road
Suite A107
Arizona 85012
Tel: (001) 602 381 0086

Tomatis Development SA
22 Boulevard Royal
L-2449 Luxembourg
Tél (352) 26 27 20
Fax (352) 26 27 20-25

The Mozart Center

These are some of the references that have been passed to us. We have not necessarily read the books, and cannot say how easy it will be to get them.

- Tomatis A. The conscious ear: My life of transformation through listening. Station Hill Press. ISBN: 0882681087

- Tomatis A (1996) The ear and language. ISBN: 0969707983

- Madaule P. (1994).When listening comes alive: A guide to effective learning and communication. Moulin Press. ISBN: 0969707916

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