All material is copyright Jim Cromwell from the date of posting unless otherwise specified

Relaxation Therapy with Interpreters

I have been asked quite often about how to provide relaxation therapy to Deaf people via interpreter. I know of no specialist tools such as visual relaxation DVDs, so my brief advice is as follows:

Use regular transcripts with a live BSL interpreter. The two things to do with that would be to

1) Amend any obviously silly bits of transcript, like "you can hear a distant seagull across the gently lapping waves" - Though it is always better to get the client to invent their own scenarios (for later use) anyway... and

2) Shut your eyes. Eye-shutting during relaxation therapy with Deaf people has always struck me as impossible, until someone at a conference suggested that the point of eye-closing is to break the social contact with the therapist so as to feel unjudged and safe. While the client cannot shut their eyes if they are looking at signing, THE INTERPRETER AND THERAPIST CAN. All it needs is for a signal to be agreed to get you to open your eyes if necessary. I suggest the client touches the interpreter's knee.

Good poetic BSL lends itself beautifully to rich, imaginal storytelling, and so a good interpreter can be an asset, rather than just a means to access a standard therapy.

The Perceptual Characteristics of Voice-Hallucinations in Deaf People

The Perceptual Characteristics of Voice-Hallucinations in Deaf People: Insights into the Nature of Subvocal Thought and Sensory Feedback Loops
Joanna R Atkinson (2006) Schizophrenia Bulletin. March 1.

This is not my paper, but I am linking to it as it is critical. Download the PDF here.
Or mirrored here.

The study of voice-hallucinations in deaf individuals, who exploit the visuomotor rather than auditory modality for communication, provides rare insight into the relationship between sensory experience and how ‘‘voices’’ are perceived. Relatively little is known about the perceptual characteristics of voice-hallucinations in congenitally deaf people who use lip-reading or sign language as their preferred means of communication. The existing literature on hallucinations in deaf people is reviewed, alongside consideration of how such phenomena may fit into explanatory subvocal articulation hypotheses proposed for auditory verbal hallucinations in hearing people. It is suggested that a failure in subvocal articulation processes may account for voice-hallucinations in both hearing and deaf people but that the distinct way in which hallucinations are experienced may be due to differences in a sensory feedback component, which is influenced by both auditory deprivation and language modality. This article highlights how the study of deaf people may inform wider understanding of auditory verbal hallucinations and subvocal processes generally.


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