Therapy and Mental Health Services for Deaf People

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Although interpreting services are frequently available, specialized mental health services for deaf and hard-of-hearing people appear to be relatively hard to find. From time to time, I get an e-mail request for information about such programs for deaf people in need of such services.

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A long time ago, I myself needed such services locally and the only program I could find was a small county-run program that had therapists who could sign. The program was so small that it could not serve many people, and I was fortunate to be able to get services at a time when I needed them.

Deaf children and teens are also sometimes in need of mental health services. Just as hearing teens may sometimes have emotional or mental problems or be troubled and involved with drug abuse, so may deaf and hard-of-hearing teens. Finding needed services for troubled deaf children and teens can be difficult. One couple I know personally had to search all over the United States to find a residential program for their deaf teenager before they finally found one in Wyoming.

Internet-Based Video Therapists

Some independent psychotherapists are offering video consultations in addition to traditional in-office visits. One independent therapist doing this is Allison Freeman, Ph.D., a Los Angeles–based psychotherapist. Dr. Freeman, who has hearing loss herself, charges the same for video therapy as for office-based therapy. In addition, the Deaf Counseling Center, a deaf-owned practice, provides psychotherapy and consulting through video and e-mail as well as in-person consultations.

State-Provided Services and Social Services Agencies

Some states offer special programs for mental health services, including:

  • Alabama Department of Mental Health has a Deaf Services program.
  • Indiana has deaf and hard-of-hearing services through Aspire Indiana and Regional Mental Health Center.
  • Missouri’s Department of Mental Health has a deaf services unit.
  • New Hampshire’s Greater Nashua Mental Health Center has mental health services for the deaf in New Hampshire.
  • Facilities operated by New York State’s Office of Mental Health provide access to services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • North Carolina has a statewide network of regional specialists.
  • South Carolina has Services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing People through the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. They provide community mental health services for deaf and hard-of-hearing residents in all counties in the state.

Treatment Hospitals

A few hospitals have specialized programs for meeting deaf patients’ mental health needs. The University of Rochester Medical Center in New York has a Deaf Wellness Center that provides mental health services and sign language interpretation. The Deaf Health Clinic at Dexter Health Center in Michigan provides primary care and an integrated behavioral health program offering in-person and videophone appointments.

Halfway Houses

Halfway houses for deaf and hard-of-hearing people recovering from mental illness or addiction are scarce. Deaf Reach in Washington, D.C. provides supported, semi-independent, and independent living options for deaf people with mental illnesses.

Schools With Specialized Services

For deaf children and teens, there are some options for residential services. One example, the Pressley Ridge School for the Deaf, is a small private school in Pennsylvania for deaf students with emotional or behavioral needs or who are on the autism spectrum. The Walden School in Massachusetts provides individualized therapeutic and behavioral counseling that includes both students and their guardians. The Lexington School for the Deaf in New York has a mental health center that provides counseling for deaf and hard-of-hearing students and their families.

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