Significance of Language in therapy
Language is the vehicle that makes therapy effective. It is critical in gathering information, assessment, and treatment. Many vulnerable populations are without a therapist who speak their language. As a student working to become a therapist, I want to create a safe and comfortable environment for the deaf and hard of hearing population. Without this, access to care and quality of care are limited for the deaf community.
There are seven therapists, in the state of Nebraska, who are deaf friendly according to the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NCDHH) website, but these therapists are mostly in the metro areas like Omaha or Lincoln. This does not tell us how many deaf individuals there are in the rural areas of Nebraska, but it does confirm that if they want a therapist who uses sign language, then they must travel for this accommodation. According to the NCDHH 2020 annual report, deaf friendly therapists have helped 3,906 people through different avenues. If we compare these numbers, how can seven therapists help even the 3,906 who are in this report/ There is a big need in Nebraska for therapists to know American Sign Language (ASL). There is a lack of interpreters but even more of a lack of therapists who know American sign language.
Additionally, the quality of care is often affected when interpreters are not available. The way to improve the quality of care is to have therapists who can talk to the client in their primary language. According to the article, Treatment of Deaf Clients: Ethical Considerations (2016), there are other issues that would affect the quality of care. This could be the lack of trust either with the therapist or even the interpreter (Boness, 2016). The process of treatment can be lost within the translation of the interpreters. There must be rapport. When having an interpreter or many different interpreters, then you can lose that rapport. We do need interpreters, but we may lose good treatment through the process of interpreting and translating from the client to the therapist.
When doing therapy, we need to be personal and be able to make sure that the client feels heard and understood. Using Interpreters can be a barrier for the client to receive adequate services. The information can be lost in translation. We want the client to get the best service.
It is most important that we bridge this gap to access and limited quality of care. The best way to bridge this gap is to have more therapists who are fluent in sign language. Unfamiliar language should no longer be the reason that someone is not seeking help or is not obtaining the help that they need to be successful in their lives. We all need to feel acceptance in the therapy process to heal. The deaf community deserves good therapy services.
2020 Annual Report – Nebraska. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://ncdhh.nebraska.gov/sites/ncdhh.nebraska.gov/files/2020%20Annual%20report.pdf
Boness, C. L. (2016). Treatment of deaf clients: ethical considerations for professionals in psychology. Ethics & behavior. Retrieved February 28, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5127625/
Jade Prusia is an intern from the University of Nebraska Grace Abbott School of Social Work program. Jade is a Child of deaf adults (CODA) and has grown up in the deaf culture. Jade’s focus is to help and not hinder therapeutic resources to the deaf community. “I am fluent in sign language, and I hope to help make changes so that the deaf community can get the services that they need without worrying if the interpreter is going to show up or not. This is a need in our state and I hope others will jump on board to help the deaf community.”Tags: hearing impaired community and mental health needs, Sign Language and psychotherapy