Culturally Affirmative Psychotherapy with Deaf Persons

Culturally Affirmative Psychotherapy with Deaf Persons

Culturally Affirmative Psychotherapy with Deaf Persons

Culturally Affirmative Psychotherapy with Deaf Persons


In this paradigm-shifting book, the new cultural model of Deafness is taken up in a comprehensive manner by mental health professionals. Starting from the premise that members of the Deaf community are best thought of as culturally different rather than disabled, the contributors present an approach to counseling Deaf people based on the best practices currently known in cross-cultural treatment of minority persons. Among the topics discussed are the development of cultural self-awareness in Deaf and hearing people, the knowledge base necessary to work with Deaf culture, and the specific skills of culturally affirmative counseling and psychotherapy. The resulting book will be of interest to all mental health professionals working with culturally different persons.


The impetus for this volume is a growing awareness within the mental health and larger community of a culturally affirmative model for understanding and assisting Deaf people. In contrast to the medical-pathological model that treats deafness as a disability, the cultural model guides us to view Deaf persons in relation to the Deaf community: a group of people with a common language, culture, and collective identity. A primary tenet of culturally affirmative psychotherapy is to understand and respect such differences, not to eradicate them.

In this volume, we present a practical and realistic model of providing culturally affirmative counseling and psychotherapy for Deaf people. The three dimensions of this model have been delineated in the multicultural counseling literature, in particular, by Sue Arredondo, and McDavis (1992) in their seminal article entitled Multicultural Counseling Competencies and Standards: A Call to the Profession.

The organization of this volume reflects the recommendations of that research: namely, that culturally affirmative psychotherapy with Deaf persons requires therapist self-awareness, knowledge of the Deaf community and culture, and knowledge of culturally syntonic therapeutic interventions. These three dimensions are elucidated by Neil Glickman in the introductory chapter entitled "What Is Culturally Affirmative Psychotherapy?" This chapter also reviews the multicultural counseling and psychotherapy literature and presents important concepts that are further discussed in the remaining chapters.

The first dimension of culturally affirmative psychotherapy, therapist self- awareness, is the focus of the next two chapters. Primary attention is devoted to hearing therapist issues, as Deaf cultural issues are addressed throughout this volume. "Cultural Self-Awareness in Hearing People" by Harlan Lane presents a sociohistorical analysis of the relations between hearing and Deaf people. "Is There a Psychology of the Hearing?" by Robert Hoffmeister and Michael Harvey is an ironic play on the oft-cited notion of a psychology of the Deaf and presents a discussion of common psychological dynamics of hearing people who enter the field of deafness.

The second dimension is knowledge of the Deaf community and Deaf culture. Tom Humphries, in chapter 4, entitled "Of Deaf-mutes, the Strange, and the Modern Deaf Self," presents an analysis of Deaf empowerment and identity in relation to the Deaf and hearing communities. "The Development of Deaf Cultural Identities," by Neil Glickman, presents a developmental framework for understanding Deaf cultural identity.

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