"Moving closer to the actual counselling of the family with a deaf member can we think about the attitudes of the counsellor towards deaf people. I wish to build yet again here on another of Edna Levine's theories. She says it should not be assumed that it is the deafness which has the most adverse effect on a deaf person. It is more likely to be the attitudes and influences to which the child is exposed whilst he is growing up. Earlier, I hinted that counsellors who have not had much experience of working with deaf persons might miss some of the consequences for a person of being deaf. What I would like to draw to attention now, are the dangers of over familiarity with the consequences of deafness." "Looking at methods of family counselling, John Elderkin Bell, an American Professor of Psychology, describes Family Group Therapy as an effort to effect behavioural and attitudinal changes within a total family. The basis assumption behind the method is that it is the family which is the unit to be treated, and that individuals within the family will be influenced as a secondary consequence. I personally do not feel that this method is practicable for families with deaf members. I believe that language and communication problems would make group counselling difficult. On a more practical level, I do not believe there are sufficient workers available with the skills and training to carry out this type of family counselling with the deaf, at least not in my own country." "Whilst I do not lean towards counselling the family as a unit as part of a treatment plan, as I have earlier indicated, I do strongly believe in considering interaction between members of the family as an important part of diagnostic work. I also believe that the the deaf person himself may not be the primary focus in a counselling situation within the family. The over-protectiveness of the mother of a deaf child; the rejection of a father; the jealousy of brothers and sisters; are all features which are found repeatedly in a number of families with a deaf member. In such situations, although the deaf person is involved in the counselling, the major focus may well be directed to the other members of the family whose behaviour is the primary cause of the maladjustment concerning the deaf person." "So, a family blessed with the arrival of a new baby, whom they subsequently discover to be deaf are going to suffer some repercussions from the news that their child is handicapped. At this point I feel very conscious of what the feelings might be of the deaf people in the audience. I am about to say something that may be hurtful to you, yet it is not my intention to be either hurtful or rude. So, I hope you will realise that my remarks do not apply to all families. I also must try to show what hearing people feel as well as deaf people if my paper is to be a balanced one. What I want to say is that many hearing parents are either hurt, disappointed, or resentful when they find that their baby is deaf. This does not mean that the parents do not have loving feelings towards their child. It means that mixed up with their loving feelings are negative feelings which sometimes influence their behaviour." "Sometimes the mother will feel that the husband was to blame for her having a deaf child. This in turn may well introduce disharmony into their marriage relationship with yet again, harmful, and possibly lasting repercussions on the attitudes and behaviour of the deaf child. Other parents may unreasonably blame the deaf child himself as being a cause of what they see as a misfortune and in such cases they will be tempted to reject him. There are fathers who see it as an insult to their own view of themselves to have a deaf baby and will therefore reject him. There will be other fathers who cannot relate to a child with whom they cannot talk. Unlike most mothers, some fathers cannot use feelings and physical contact as a substitute method for conversation in relating to their child. Finally I would mention the parents who love their child too sensitively. Such parents may not be able to bear the pain of contemplating the difficulties which will confront their child as a deaf person. They then find that the only remedy is to deny their love for their child because we can only be hurt by difficulties for other people if we have some positive feelings of liking towards them." "A hearing person uses words very often to mislead other people. He is trying to give an acceptable picture of himself. The counsellor is therefore watching the hearing person's expressions, noting what he doesn't talk about, observing his general manner, in an attempt to guess what the hearing person's real feelings and attitudes are. I would submit that with a deaf person the counsellor is so occupied with understanding the explicit communication of the deaf person which is often in manual communication or distorted speech, that the counsellor has little thinking and observation skill to spare to deduce what the deaf person is subconsciously feeling. Furthermore, deaf people use more exaggerated expressions to reinforce their explicit communications in the absence of verbal emphasis. In doing this deaf people tend to mask those subtle facial expressions hearing people display which tend to reveal their sub-conscious feelings. In the actual counselling process with deaf people how should we read a deaf person's sub-conscious feelings and attitudes?"
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