Workshops, Training and Consultation

I lecture and provide training about a wide range of topics about psychological effects of hearing loss, self-care, psychotherapy and mental health.  The presentations can be specifically tailored for: 

·deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing consumers
· parents, family members, spouses, significant others
· counselors, therapists, trainers, teachers
· residential treatment, hospital staff
· hearing-care professionals, audiologists, speech-language therapists
· medical and allied medical staff

For a list of endorsements, please click here.

Possible topics are:   

The Psychological Effects of Acquired Hearing Loss

Unlike many congenitally deaf or hard-of-hearing persons whose level of hearing has become an integral facet of their identity, persons who lose their hearing frequency experience loss and trauma.  That experience is strongly influenced by psychological, social and spiritual factors.  This workshop describes how these factors are interwoven to shape the psyches and life-stories of persons with acquired hearing loss.  Issues related to helplessness, anxiety, fear, anger/rage, feelings of incompetence, reconciling one's group identity and finding meaning or purpose from one's pain will be discussed.

 A Psychological Look at Resiliency 

What enables some people with hearing losses to successfully overcome adversity?  Recent psychological research on resiliency helps explain how and why some people cope and benefit by their disability while others succumb to it.  Most importantly, this skill does not solely depend on innate talents or dispositions.  There are well-defined and teachable methods and attitudes which foster positive psychological adaptation and growth.   This training will describe what factors lead to resiliency, specifically to the challenge of acquired hearing loss and teach methods of increasing resiliency and decreasing internalized handicaps.


Vicarious Hearing Loss: A Spouse's Tale 

When one part of a family system is in pain, then every part is affected.  In particular, when one spouse is directly traumatized by the loss of hearing, the other spouse is vicariously traumatized; in some ways, each person's experiences of hope and terror are mirror images of each other.  However, too often, both end up feeling abandoned and betrayed. 

This workshop will describe the relational dynamics of couples, with particular attention to the so-called "shadow spouse" - the one without the hearing loss.  The non-disabled spouse often remains in the shadows, feeling an almost inexplicable loneliness.  One's needs for comfort and validation are often tinged with guilt as though there is no reason or justification to complain. 

Bearing Witness to Ordinary Evil: Self-care and Growth-enhancement Strategies

Many deaf and hard-of-hearing persons report that the intolerance of others is the most difficult to tolerate, even more than one's hearing loss per se.  This intolerance is what I call "ordinary evil": those actions which “feel” evil, but are not evil enough to be newsworthy.   Exclusion, discrimination and abuse of power, are commonplace examples.  The long-term effects of ordinary evil, left unrecognized by the victim/survivor and without adequate coping tools, are insidious and devastating.  However, once recognized and managed properly, however, ordinary evil can be a vehicle for one’s psychological and spiritual growth.

The Transformative Power of Relationships: Beyond Communication Strategies 

Hearing loss doesn’t affect just an individual, but also affects significant others.  But the needs of the non-hearing impaired spouse are often left unexamined.  Even while providing support, so-called “shadow spouses” have rich opportunities to benefit themselves in profound, often transformative ways.  I will illustrate techniques for maximizing psycho-social-spiritual growth for both partners.  Pre-marital dating, when one person is hard-of-hearing, will also be covered.  The focus is on growth enhancement possibilities beyond the logistics of setting up communication strategies.   

No longer Who I Was But Not Yet Who I Will Be 

Some persons with hearing loss remain attached to their former hearing identity and feel defective.  The easy-to-say-but-tough-to-do task is to disengage from the “hearing self” and embrace the hard-of-hearing self.  But this necessitates feeling no longer who I was but not yet who I will be.  It constitutes a hero’s journey, a mythological construct.  I will describe navigational tools, such as finding threads of continuity and paradoxes of growth.  This workshop was the keynote speech at the 10/02 national ALDA conference in Orlando, Florida.

Vicarious trauma and stress reduction

Helping professionals often find themselves in situations in which hearing persons or agencies oppress a Deaf client.  Inasmuch as the Deaf person is traumatized by sustaining oppression, the witness may be vicariously traumatized.  In the words of Carl Jung, “trauma is contagious.”  Specifically, one may unwittingly become a victim, oppressor or complacent bystander (compassion fatigue).  This session will describe the cognitive, emotional and behavioral fallout from vicarious trauma; delineate coping strategies; discuss methods of stress reduction; and outline growth enhancement, transformation strategies. 

The advantages of exchanging a Pentium IV for a 286: A psychological look at welcoming old age and hearing aids 

If patients with presbycusis resist impending old age and expect hearing aids to transform their experience of aging, then the stage is set for unmet expectations, betrayal and for returning those "damn aids." The hearing-care professional should "sell" the concept that hearing aids can help one age gracefully but that they cannot perform magic. Stated differently, geriatric patience compliance for audiologic recommendations is inextricably related to positive adjustment to aging. This workshop will delineate psychological techniques that the audiologist can use to increase patient compliance among older persons. 

The Transformative Power of an Audiology Visit 


A visit with a hearing-care professional or audiologist can result in a profound psychological transformation for a patient.  The unique context of a visit promotes the necessary mix of self-disclosure and trust for emotional healing.  A patient's resiliency is directly attributable to later recalling positive impressions of the hearing-care professional.  The context of the visit also fulfills a vital human need for a significant other to bear witness to our story; it serves as an "emotionally corrective" experience; and it provides an invaluable window of opportunity for patients to further their existential growth.  The psychological benefits of patient contact for hearing-care professionals and audiologists themselves will also be addressed.  

When a patient requests hearing aids but doesn’t want them

“What you need in trying to help people are the qualities of a good bartender – sympathy, willingness to listen, and intuition.”  The goal of this training is to teach those qualities: so-called motivational interviewing techniques which are applicable for hearing-impaired persons.  Participants will learn how to elicit self-motivational statements from their patients; use psychological strategies of managing patient ambivalence; use specific modes of questioning and dialogue; avoid common provider traps; and react appropriately to common patient avoidant behaviors; and methods of structuring a collaborative dialogue.  This workshop is relevant for hearing care professionals to increase adherence to recommendations, such as hearing aids. 

Post Traumatic Reactions and Deaf Persons: validation of a Common Experience or Just Another Pathological Label? 

Psychological trauma has been defined as an experience which is unexpected or non-normative; which exceeds the individual's copying ability; and which disrupts the individual's frame of reference and other central psychological needs.  But what about many Deaf persons' frequent if not omnipresent experiences of sustaining oppression from the hearing culture?  What about many Deaf persons who grow up conversationally isolated in their families of origin?   

Understanding that many Deaf persons may be recovering from Post Trauma Reactions helps to validate one’s experiences.  This framework helps make sense out of certain so-called "post-trauma" behaviors, such as a deaf individual becoming immobilized in situations which are reminiscent of prior experiences.  This workshop provides specific guidelines for non-traditional and traditional psychotherapeutic interventions, specifically those which have been extensively described in the trauma literature. 

Family therapy with deaf-member families   

This presentation describes the theory and practice of formulating systemic diagnoses and implementing interventions with deaf-member families, including deaf children of hearing parents and deaf parents with hearing children.  Systemic considerations of working with interpreters are covered.   

Therapeutic approaches with inflexible-explosive children  

The pragmatic techniques of psychologist Ross Green are extremely useful in treating children and adolescents who are inflexible and explosive.  This training covers specific cognitive-behavioral methods of teaching flexibility and frustration tolerance, distinguishing when a child “can’t behave” from “won’t behave,” interrupting explosive behavioral sequences, designing appropriate milieu, and conducting situational analyses of antecedent events.  The format is via didactic presentation, role playing and experiential exercises and can be specifically tailored for staff in residential treatment settings, outpatient therapists, or parents.

Psychological Services 

  • Individual, Marital and Family Counseling and psychotherapy.

  • Psycho diagnostic evaluations.

  • Support and educational groups on various topics, e.g., vicarious trauma, hearing loss, tinnitus.