Therapeutic Listening Program (TLP)

What is TL Program?
Therapeutic Listening® is an evidence-backed protocol, created by Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis that utilizes modulated CDs/SDs to activate all levels of the nervous system. Auditory input from Therapeutic Listening CDs/SDs provides direct input to both the vestibular and the auditory portions of the vestibular-cochlear system. The emphasis of TL is on blending sounds intervention strategies with vestibulo-proprioceptive, core development, and breath activities so as to sustain grounding and centering of the body and mind in space and time. Providing these postural, movement, and respiratory activities as part of the TL program is critical.

Modulated music is a term that refers to music that has been processed using an alternating high and low pass filter creating a significant contrast between the upper and lower end of the frequencies.

Trained therapists learn to use modulated CDs/SDs to set up programs for clients in homes, schools and clinics. Listening is a function of the entire brain; when we listen, we listen with the whole body.

Clinic-based trained therapists will combine the sound-based intervention with sensory integrative activities to create a comprehensive program that is effective for diverse populations with sensory challenges.

Listening is a Sensory Integrative Experience As described by Dr. Alfred Tomatis, listening is the active focusing and protecting function of the ear that permit us to take in the auditory information or sound message we want and reject what we don’t want. Listening plays an integral part of skills such as attention span, auditory processing, visual motor skills, and coordinated bilateral body movements.

Through the relationship of the auditory, visual, and vestibular functions, listening can have a profound impact not only on the auditory system but on the whole body. Integrating improved listening, eye contact and tracking for functional skills can improve eye-hand coordination for fine motor skills and writing can improve. The double-function of listening/receiving information we want and protecting us from information we don’t want creates a mechanism of self-regulation. Self-regulation of sensory information is essential in order for a child to maintain a calm, alert state throughout the day’s routine, and allow the acquisition of age appropriate skills.

When used in conjunction with Sensory Integration Therapy, improvement is usually seen in:

  • sensory modulation/self-regulation
    • alertness and emotional responsivity
  • alertness, attention, and focus
  • awareness of the environment
  • self-motivation
  • postural organization and security
  • balance and motor planning
  • receptive and expressive language, including articulation
  • social skills
    • initiation of verbal interaction
    • initiation of play behavior
  • handwriting/fine motor skills
  • spatial awareness
  • modulation of sleeping
  • body awareness
    • eating
    • toileting

Specific Headphones are needed:

It is important to use the headphones recommended by the company that produces the TL CDs. The Sennheiser HD 500A is the recommended headphone and it is specifically designed for Therapeutic Listening. The headphones have to meet specific requirements including an Impedance of 150 Ohms, and a sensitivity/frequency range of 22,000 or 23,000 HZ (i.e., 22 or 23 kHZ).

If you choose NOT to use these high range headphones, don’t even bother to do the Listening Therapy.

WHY? Because the prescription/modulated CDs/SDs have frequency ranges, clicks and sounds built into them, it is not just “music”. These sounds are only heard, and transmitted to the brain, through the vestibular canal in the ear (the vestibular-cochlear system), straight to the cortex of the brain.

Lower frequency headphones with lower ranges cannot pick up the actual high frequency sounds that are the most helpful part of stimulation of the brain we need to get input to, to bring about changes in sensitivity in the brain. Here’s an example: why can’t we hear a dog whistle? The dog can hear frequency ranges that humans cannot hear. This is the same with these specialized headphones and with the brain. It CAN pick up and respond to much higher and lower frequencies than we think… but only if we have a “transmitter”/headphones that can hear and send that signal range. Make sense?

The Listening Therapy will be of VERY limited help to your child, and not worth the trouble if you do not utilize the full benefit of program. MOST headphones, even nice expensive ones, sold on the open market, have a frequency range of about 10-11,000, which is only letting your child hear less than HALF of what is incorporated into that CD to help your child. ASK when you go and price them and MAKE SURE you get the right kind! An easy way to deal with this problem is to simply buy the recommended pair. They come with a 2 year warranty, and if they break after 2 years, the company will replace them for $59.95. Not a bad deal!

The CDs/SD Cards:
Therapeutic Listening CDs and SD Cards are modulated, providing stimulation to the appropriate parts of the brain needed to elicit positive change. The CDs/SDs cannot be copied and used. They will not be effective because copying them or putting them into digital format will cut the frequency range in half and they will become ineffective. Although they are expensive, Pediatric Sensory Therapy will allow you to “rent” them for a small fee so you do not have to buy.
The CD/SD Player: The CD player can be purchased at any retail store such as KMart, Radio Shack, Fred Meyer, etc., but it must have the following features:

  • random play
  • ability to turn BASS OFF
  • hold button to lock down the volume
  • Anti-skip (CD only)

The volume should be set and held at 45-55dB (decibels). Conversational speech is about 70 decibels, so you can see it needs to be lower than ordinary speech. Too loud can be harmful, so there is a need to be able to lock down that volume.

Will my insurance pay for it? Unfortunately, no. However, you can often purchase the equipment on discount from e-bay, directly from, or you may be able to get them on loan from your OT. You will not need to purchase the CDs/SDs, as they are available for a $5 rental fee for 2 weeks. Participation in Therapeutic Listening Program as part of a home program is available on a private pay basis through Pediatric Sensory Therapy.


Ayers, A.J. (1972). Sensory integration and learning disorders. Los Angeles: Western Psychological.

Burleigh, J.M., McIntosh, K.W., & Thompson, M.W. (2002). Central auditory processing disorders. In A.C. Bundy, S.J. Lane, & E.A. Murray (Eds.). Sensory Integration: Theory and Practice (2nd ed., pp. 141-161). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.