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American Annals of the Deaf

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Psychotherapy with Deaf Clients from Diverse Groups
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Modifications of DBT materials should not only focus on English-related changes, but should also incorporate material specifically relevant to the Deaf sociocultural experience to foster learning and increase the relevance of such materials for deaf clients (O’Hearn & Pollard, 2008). The DBT interpersonal skill termed “DEAF CAN” provides an example of one such modification. Each letter of this mnemonic stands for a different skill needed to either ask for something or to say no to an unwanted request. In an effort to associate each of these skills with an ASL sign that would translate easily, we modified the mnemonic to become “DEAF CAN.” Not only does this mnemonic relate to a useful, parallel translation of the same DBT concepts, it capitalizes on positive Deaf self-perceptions. (See Figures 3 and 4 for examples of a DEAF CAN worksheet for those with lesser and greater English fluency, respectively.)


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