Chapter One of Psychotherapy with Deaf Clients from Diverse Groups continued...
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The situation improved with the arrival and growth of counselors and caseworkers in the field of deafness during the 1970s. However, the brand of counseling that emerged continued to be largely directive, presumably fitting the attributed personality, language, and cognitive limitations of deaf clients, leaving little room for their growth and development. In this approach, the counselor is judgmental, telling the client what is wrong and what is right, and advising the client how to correct the problem. Essentially, most counselors believed, as the following quote demonstrates, that counseling with deaf clients had to be concrete:

"Successful counseling with most deaf persons and perhaps with people in general must be related to the here and now... It means environmental manipulation, talking to employers, getting the family to help, and giving support instead of abstractly discussing super ego problems, displacement of unconscious drives, and other valid but intangible therapeutic concepts. The immaturity and the communication limitations of many deaf clients often made abstract procedures a useless tour de force." (Vernon, 1967, p. 10)

No mention was made of the highly heterogeneous nature of the deaf population, many of whom would benefit as much from psychotherapy as their hearing counter- parts. Minimal attention was given to promoting counseling approaches that encourage the client to express feelings and thoughts, to reflect on these, and then to assume responsibility for them. Similarly, counselors who encouraged problem exploration (by the client) were largely ignored.

The concrete, here-and-now approach was reinforced in professional journals that continued to feature articles by influential authors who argued against the use of affectively oriented, analytically oriented, insight-developing, and in-depth counseling and psychotherapy approaches (Rainer et al., 1963; Vernon, 1967). During the 1960s, prominent psychoanalysts who worked with deaf patients maintained that psychoanalytic therapy with deaf people was not possible because of the level of abstract reasoning required and because of the need for the deaf patient to face the therapist, which cannot be accomplished while lying on the couch (Rainer et al., 1963). The fact that there are other approaches within the psychoanalytic camp was not mentioned. Further, there was no mention of the fact that psychoanalysis also does not work with many hearing people.

Arguments were also advanced against the newer rational, cognitive, and client-centered approaches on the grounds that they required high intellectual, logical, and abstract functioning and hence were not suitable for deaf people. According to Vernon, "Rogerians attempting to reflect affective overtones or responding with 'humms' which cannot be lipread and for which there is no sign soon see their technique as inappropriate with the average deaf client" (1967, p. 10). This particular reasoning has been proven to be patently absurd. Next Page

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