Counselors For The Deaf

Hearing aids and C.I.

Hearing aids and C.I.

Last week, I attended a presentation offered by the Riverside County Department of Mental Health. The focus of this presentation was “Depression” and a Sign Language Interpreter was provided for those attending from the Deaf Community.

The Department of Mental Health provided dinner and the first hour was devoted to dining and mingling and seeing old friends with their ‘dogs for the deaf’.

It immediately occurred to me the various methods of communication offered in this presentation. The presenter was a deaf Therapist and presented her program in sign language. The interpreter voiced for her. Another woman sat at the end of the table operating a CART machine, for those in the deaf community who haven’t grown up with sign language. Everything that was spoken was immediately translated and shown on screen. Another gentleman was there to provide interpretation in Spanish. So many modes of communication.

The Deaf Community in our area is seeking answers and alternatives to the traditional therapy available to them. Their choice typically involves a counseling session with a sign language interpreter present. Imagine visiting with a therapist and finding it difficult to share private and intimate details of your life. Now imagine that a third person is in the room with you…an interpreter who is now part of this confidential interaction. If you see this therapist more than once, you may have a different interpreter for each visit. How unsettling to lose ones feeling of privacy in this sacred setting.

So much better if the therapist could actually communicate in sign language.

The Department of Counseling at Gallaudet University, located in Washington, D.C., is the world’s only training program that prepares mental health and school counseling graduates to work with a wide range of Deaf people. These programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Graduates are highly trained in their CACREP specialty areas and possess in-depth knowledge about the Deaf community, including its various subgroups, and are required to have sign language fluency. Interns and graduates from these counseling programs have had a dramatic impact on service delivery systems for Deaf individuals as well as the Deaf community throughout the United States and internationally.

So much better if your therapist is a good fit and actually deaf too…someone who may truly be capable of relating to your experience and understands your frustrations.

During this presentation, one of the Mental Health Representatives made reference to ‘Deaf Mutes’ and was gently and immediately corrected by one of the deaf attendees.

I had to smile as there was a deaf baby sitting with her family toward the back of the room. Her babbling, crying and cooing sounds were just as effective as any hearing child’s. She was definitely NOT mute.

In the year 2014, another deaf family came forward as “divided”. Mom was there with her 10 month old deaf daughter. Sarah was wearing tiny hearing aids and squirming around like most 10 month old babies. Dad was absent. He does not support his daughter affiliating with the Deaf Community and wishes her to grow up speaking and reading lips. Mom sees the benefit of ‘total communication’ and wants the family to be able to easily communicate with Sarah. They disagree as to what is best for Sarah.

Mom demonstrated a few signs she has learned.

I suddenly found myself experiencing a feeling of urgency. How much time will go by before Sarah can communicate with her family?  How long will she squint in dim lighting trying to accomplish “speed lip reading” while family conversations bounce around the dinner table?  How long before she feels isolated? How long before she feels confused about her community?  Not quite hearing, and not quite deaf. How long before she feels damaged and different – as opposed to accepted and embraced for who she is? The clock is ticking and some things cannot be “un-done”.

All these thoughts were flying through my mind as Sarah’s mom discussed her family’s dilemma.

Why did I think that we had tackled and resolved this situation years ago?

What kind of guidance is this family receiving from their physician?  Is Sarah something to be fixed and blended as best they can? For her own good?

As we each went our own way, I felt sad for Sarah, but hopeful that Mom is exploring various options regarding what is best for her child.

A deaf toddler was also there with her own family. She had tiny hearing aids AND a cochlear implant.

My wish is for each family to explore all options and communicate with those in the Deaf Community who can offer first person feedback regarding the alternatives.

My wish is for each deaf child to feel included, cherished and accepted for who they are. To know that they matter enough – that friends and family will make the effort to simplify communication with them.

I also found myself thinking that these scenarios once again highlight the importance and need for qualified deaf therapists.

There ARE resources and organizations serving this need. This link provides the contact names by U.S. regions and would be a good first step in locating a properly trained Counselor for the Deaf.

This blog posting is dedicated to Sarah and many just like her. May they find peace and a sense of community as they journey on.


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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

View all posts by Evelyn

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One Response to “Counselors For The Deaf”

  1. Kim Smith Says:

    Check out They are the World’s leader in providing counseling services for Deaf people. Top notch and everything.


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