Counseling The Deaf
Mental health services, alongside many social services, have been viewed negatively by Deaf people because of the history of discrimination towards them and the current lack of resources provided for them. The Deaf culture is very tight knit and therefore information and knowledge about the services and quality of care they receive travels fast within their community. It is essential for counselors and mental health providers to understand the needs of Deaf individuals in order to be able to provide quality care and resources for them.
An estimated 350 000 people in Canada are considered Deaf and 3.15 million Canadians are considered hard of hearing (Canadian Association of the Deaf, n.d). The National Centre for Health Statistics defines Deaf as having hearing loss to the point where sign language is the primary method of communication (Peters, 2007).
Deaf people experience many challenges due to their inability to hear and effectively use oral language. Deaf people have been viewed as being inferior to hearing people for many years and as a result, have been victims of paternalistic actions (Peters, 2007). Deaf people were of interest to the psychiatric sector in the 1950’s and as result were treated very unfairly. Many of them were misdiagnosed and labeled as mentally retarded as well as psychotic and placed into asylums for mentally ill individuals due to lack of knowledge and understanding on behalf of society. Some were even assumed to have schizophrenia because they communicated with gestures and brief sounds rather than understandable language. Several traits including, neurotic, paranoid, hedonistic, disobedient and unintelligent, have been attributed to Deaf individuals throughout history (Peters,2007).
The stigma surrounding Deaf individuals caused them to be held back in school and taught inappropriately, which perpetuated the belief that they...