Family Therapy: Deaf or Hearing Professional?

ASC Vlog: Candace McCullough discusses the empowering message reflected in the choice of a Deaf psychotherapist for a hearing family with a Deaf child. As always, ASC looks forward to knowing your perspective on this issue.

To cite:

McCullough, C. (2007, January 9). Family Therapy: Deaf or Heating Professional. ASC on the Couch. Retrieved January 9, 2007, from http://www.ascdeaf.com/blog/?p=277

  1. Jennifer Taylor January 23, 2007

    I agree with you but what if hearing do not understand deaf professonal. Hearing need hearing intepreter to understand deaf sign language. That may be opposite also. The balance is out of order too. It may be tough. Parents decide what is right for their child not you. They raise the child so nothing we can do. Its a good encouragement for parents to understand. They may change their mind by your point. Its can happen too. Never know. Thanks, Jen-

  2. Katie January 23, 2007


    I think you missed the point. If hearing parents can’t understand the deaf counselor, an interpreter can be used. It is still far better than having a hearing counselor AND an interpreter. Too much! It is better to have a deaf counselor AND an interpreter to make things more balanced.

    We need to use more deaf people and less interpreters. Yes, I think we can change hearing parents’ thinking and empower deaf children.

  3. ASC January 23, 2007

    We want to apologize to those who did make comments here before. The comments were lost when our server crashed. We have since transferred to a new server, DeafVision, and are crossing our fingers that things will go smoothly from here on. If you posted comeents to this vlog or other posts before and would like to do so again, please feel free to do that.

  4. Rox January 28, 2007

    From personal experience, as a teenager I had frustrations and family struggles to the point where I attempted suicide. My family brought me to a hearing family counselor (I lived in a rural area, there were no deaf counselors around), and the hearing counselor could not understand why I was so frustrated with my family. Also, there was no interpreter because the only interpreter in the area was my interpreter in school, and my parents didn’t want to bring her into our private business. Fortunately, I saw another counselor who saw that I was frustrated because of repeated miscommunications, and I got the help that I needed. However, looking back, there could have been a lot less frustration if we had the opportunity to see a deaf counselor and s/he would have seen clearly that the problem was with my hearing family and that they weren’t communicating clearly to me, as well as my misunderstanding them.

  5. Mike D January 29, 2007

    Great discussion! I wish my department would discuss deaf issues. As a deaf graduate student, I feel like I learn a lot from your blog. It is sad that I don’t learn from my classes. We do need to push the idea of using deaf counselors more. Thanks for bringing up an important issue.

  6. ASC January 29, 2007


    I’m really sorry that you had to go through a lot with your family and your frustrating experience with family therapy. Glad to know that you eventually got the help you needed. With more awareness about Deaf people, hopefully, mental health professionals will become aware of the importance of referring families with Deaf members to Deaf professionals.

  7. Sarah February 20, 2007

    What an absolute valid comment there! I am Deaf myself and come from a multi-generational Deaf family, so i cannot really speak for deaf child with hearing family. But, i can surely imagine what it would have felt like if i were that child.

    What’s more, i once worked as a teacher’s aide in a deaf program at a public school thus i got to participate in a lot of IEP meetings. Before i had worked there, it was too often that the deaf child would sit and let info from the ASL interpreter fly right past him simply because the interpreter’s job was to interpret into ASL of an equal level of language use. It wasn’t interpreter’s responsibility to change her wording to accommodate the child’s level of language use. The D/deaf children simply never understood what was really being discussed in their own IEP meetings and just let their parents and the poorly signing teacher take care of everything.

    So when i worked there and participated in the IEP meetings, i simply translated the interpreter’s wording into a child language and explained what this and that meant or could mean to him. And, near always, the child would then suddenly speak out what he felt or wanted to his parents and the teacher. That happened was only because i was there and able to accommodate the child by saying the info in ASL on his level.

    This is exactly the same kind of situation that i can imagine would have happened in a hearing centered counseling session where no one could sign or sign fluently. Talk about not being empowered vs being empowered here!

  8. Susan March 16, 2007

    I think it would be wonderful if hearing families with a deaf child go to a deaf counsellor… I agree with you and I believe that it will have a positive impact on the family, because the counsellor knows where the child is coming from (if the problem is deaf/hearing related) and can recommend solutions where a hearing counsellor will probably have no idea of how the deaf child is feeling.

    Wonderful vlog 🙂

  9. Carrie March 19, 2007

    I agree, once the family has problem with a deaf child or wanting the family to understand the whole as a team. I would suggeset them to see a hearing couselor who has the knowledge of deaf culture such as coda or has deaf spouses or something like that. that able to educate both areas of hearing family and a deaf child. Thats my opinion.

  10. Diane March 20, 2007

    I agree with you. Smile .. Happy Therapy!

  11. Mallory Malzkuhn April 5, 2007

    I absolutely agree with your Vlog. Therapy and counseling is all about understanding one other’s emotions and feelings and since the focus is on the Deaf child, then s/he deserves somebody who is capable of understanding her/his culture/language. It would be great for the hearing parents as well because working with a Deaf counselor/therapist, they would be forced to use ASL more and finally get a taste of their own medicine after being left out by their child and the therapist.

  12. Tourlova April 8, 2007

    It remind me of something a bit about my psychology professor because she knew what deaf people’s needs and expectations. I agree with this lady Candace like the Deaf psychotherapist for hearing family with deaf child because it will help to educate the parents of deaf child. Many many deaf children comes from deaf parents, they learn fast and in well environment where they can read and write very well to understand the world. I noticed a lot of deaf children by hearing parents do not help from hearing consellor or therapist or whetever it calls. It definitely is not fair and not healthy. I agree with Candace most of it.

  13. Canela April 8, 2007

    my psychology teacher wanted me to leave a comment about vlog. well i never experince with that.. but I agree with your comment It would be nice if the hearing family with a deaf child go to a deaf counsellor.

  14. Josef Pfaff April 8, 2007

    Yeah, I agree. A bit problem is that the hearing family might think that they know better than the Deaf professional person.

  15. Melissa Miller April 12, 2007

    you just read my mind. i agree about the majority of 3 to 1, the deaf child will feel oppressed for sure, no question. while if the hearing family decides to hire a deaf professional, the child will feel that he/she has support since there’s another deaf person in the room. BUT- that onlyyy depends on the child, honest. there are deaf children out there who wants to be like a hearing person. so i feel that strongly depends on the case– if the child goes to a deaf school and is fluent in ASL then i would support for hiring a deaf professional because that obviously means that the hearing parents accept for who their child is then there will be no problem with having a deaf professional. if the deaf child goes to a mainstream school and likes to hang out with hearing people then a hearing professional wouldn’t hurt.

  16. Brittany Williams April 12, 2007

    Parents should do what’s best for their child and with that said, parents should pick a deaf therapist because they know 2 languages, english and ASL. It wouldn’t be fair for the child to be only deaf person in the room and be a third wheel. The child has to listen to the interpreter and the interpreter tells the child what the hearing therapist said. It’s all about the child

  17. Roy Lotz April 15, 2007

    I absoultely support this idea, it is best to have deaf professional couselor because they would understand deaf child more than hearing couselor because they arent deaf or didnt raise in deaf community. It would be different story if the hearing couselor was raised with deaf family, s/he would eventually understand the deaf child.

  18. Cara Keith April 15, 2007

    I really enjoyed this Vlog because of the topic that is being discussed. I think in this type of setting it is more important that the child feels comfortable rather than the parents. I couldn’t imagine being a young deaf child going to see a therapist and having them be hearing I imagine like was discussed on the Vlog they wouldn’t truly understand me. Also having to deal with an interpreter at such a young age about potentially very personal topics is inappropriate in my opinion.

  19. Tamara Ward April 19, 2007

    This topic have brought up a good point of placing a family with a deaf child with a deaf therapist. It depends on location and the level of competence of the therapist as well to recognize that a referral is needed the place them to better meet their needs. It would lessen the frustration on both ends.

  20. Debbie Beck July 28, 2008

    I totally agree with what you say on this video.. I have a situation that has nothing to do with couseling, but I have been all my life a Hard -of Hearing person and used 2 hearing aids. I know how to speak, somewhat lip read, and know sign language. I have 2 teenage kids and a husband that are hearing and have been speaking and hearing in their world for years. I was able to talk on the phone, listen to music and didn’t have porblems communicating with my family. As of 5 months ago due to stress, or some kind of infection in my bloodstream, docotrs fare not sure. I had to leave my job as an Receptionist because I wasn’t able to hear on the phone anymore.
    I’m 46 years old and now has become profoundly deaf. I have been trying to find information for my family to better understand my hearing, what is it like to be deaf and how important it is to be for them to learn some sign language. My kids are 16 and 17 years old. They have gotten so used to their Mom being able to hear and function in their world and they get so frustrated with me now. I have looked into taken lip reading classes, but It would really mean alot for me to give my family information on how my world is like?
    I don’t know if you could help me?
    Debbie Beck

  21. Jessie Harrison March 25, 2016

    My son is deaf, so it’s hard for me to communicate with him. Lately, I’ve felt like he has been struggling. The issue is my sign language isn’t good enough for me to interact with him the way I’d like. I want to see what I can do to get him to a sign language counselor.

    • Deaf Counseling Center March 25, 2016

      You are welcome to contact us via our website’s contact page. We will be more than happy to work with your son.


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