Chapter One of Psychotherapy with Deaf Clients from Diverse Groups continued...
Back to the last page
As based on the perspectives of these few pioneering deaf psychologists, many deaf people representing various educational, economic, social, ethnic, cultural, and communication back- grounds did respond to and benefit from the various forms of psychotherapy used with hearing people when conditions for effective psychotherapy were present (A. E. Sussman, 1988). It is the implementation that may differ. For example, in addition to a therapist's skills and attitudes, proficiency with the communication mode preferred by the deaf client is one of the obvious conditions for effective psychotherapy.

A new, more promising era began to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s. Increasing numbers of young people-hearing and deaf-began to look to careers in deafness mental health (Leigh, 1991). Those already in clinical practice began to take an interest in working with deaf people. Contributing to this significant increase of clinicians in deafness mental health was the establishment of training programs such as Gallaudet University's master's programs in mental health counseling and social work, and its doctoral program in clinical psychology. Additionally, the number of local, regional, national, and international conferences, workshops, training institutes, and continuing education programs related to deafness mental health, including psychotherapy, also increased. From "the psychological and social problems of deaf people and their mental health needs" stage, the deafness mental health field has moved to the "what and how to do" stage. Current practitioners and graduate students are now focusing on the pragmatic aspects of psychotherapy with deaf clients. The question has changed from "Does psychotherapy work with deaf clients?" to "How is theory translated into practice with deaf clients and how does psychotherapy work with deaf clients?" Emergent is the healthy desire to learn from practicing psychotherapists representing a wide variety of theoretical orientations on how various approaches and techniques of psychotherapy are applied to deaf clients.

Another aspect of this movement is the growth of literature on the subject of counseling and psychotherapy with deaf clients, offering different theoretical and treatment perspectives. While not directly contradicting earlier authors advocating the more simplistic and directive approaches, this literature demonstrates that earlier contentions as to the inapplicability of various approaches for deaf individuals are without merit, provided that conditions for effective therapy exist (Brauer, 1980; Brauer & Sussman, 1980; Sussman & Stewart, 1971).

The psychoanalytic approaches are no longer summarily ruled out or restricted. For example, Levin (1981) and Rayson (1985) have demonstrated that some psychoanalytic therapies are possible, feasible, and useful with many deaf clients-as long as they are conducted in the client's preferred mode of communication. Next Page

Back to the newsletter
New books
Gallaudet University Press Homepage