Counseling Children With Hearing Loss and Their Families
RATING: (4 of 5 ears)
AUTHOR: Kristina M. English
PUBLISHER: Allyn & Bacon
COST: $30.00 (softcover)
REVIEWER: Julie Vesper Sapp, PhD, Northeast Georgia RESA
SYNOPSIS: The audiologist is typically comfortable in the role of informational counselor, providing patients with data regarding hearing loss and with advice regarding equipment and strategies that will make communication easier. Graduate training in audiology is designed to develop expertise in these matters. Less often, and less well addressed in the training of audiologists, is the audiologist's appropriate role in personal adjustment counseling for people with hearing loss. Counseling Children With Hearing Impairment and Their Families provides an overview of the rationale and techniques of nonprofessional personal adjustment counseling. It applies these techniques to the practice of audiology with the pediatric hearing-impaired population and, to a lesser extent, with their families.
REVIEW: Counseling Children With Hearing Impairment and Their Families is divided into six chapters. Each chapter opens with Learning Objectives highlighting the key concepts that will be presented. Each chapter concludes with a brief Chapter Summary reviewing these points. These summaries are followed by Learning Activities that reinforce the issues explored, and allow the reader a chance to integrate the concepts and skills. Several case studies reappear frequently throughout the text. This allows the reader to become familiar with these children, and to understand their progress through the counseling process.
In Chapter 1, "Introduction to Nonprofessional Counseling," the author defines and discusses the counseling vocabulary used throughout the text. Audiologists provide informational counseling to children when they "explain" about hearing loss, hearing aids, or communicative strategies. A child's emotional response to their hearing loss, hearing aids, or listening difficulties, however, will affect the ability to learn and use the expert information provided. Recognizing the limits of informational counseling becomes the first step in addressing the personal adjustment needs of the child. Responding to a personal adjustment concern with additional information constitutes a "communication mismatch." To paraphrase one of the author's examples, when the child states, "Hearing aids make me look ugly," it is a communication mismatch to respond, "They help you hear your teacher." The author discusses the appropriate role of the audiologist as a nonprofessional counselor, as opposed to the role of the mental health professional as a professional counselor. Professional boundaries are stressed, and the need for appropriate mental health referrals is emphasized.
Chapter 2, "What We Know: Children With Hearing Loss Are At Risk," provides an overview of the development of self-concept, and the psychosocial adjustment issues of children with hearing loss. It also describes family systems theory, which recognizes that the entire family must adjust to the circumstance of the individual. Interdependent variables within family structures are outlined.
Chapters 3, 4, and 5 provide the meat of the counseling content. The focus of Chapter 3, "Opening the Door," is helping children "tell their story." Three approaches to counseling are described: behavioral, person-centered, and cognitive. Three "door opener" instruments to personal adjustment counseling are presented (with the author's Children's Peer Relationship Scale provided in its entirety in the appendix), along with the advantages and disadvantages of each. Tools for informational counseling re also presented.
Chapter 4, "Keeping the Door Open," presents the counseling/listening techniques that help children clarify their problems and get ready to solve them. The emphasis is placed on listening, not telling. Strategies for effective listening include paraphrasing, minimal encouragers, reflecting feelings, appropriate silence, helping phrases for clarification, and providing feedback. Barriers to effective listening are also clearly described.
Chapter 5, "Completing the Counseling Process," deals with assisting children in goal-setting and in plan development and implementation, particularly in the areas of social skills and emotional self-awareness. Professional resources are also provided.
Finally, Chapter 6 is a self-evaluation quiz, helping the reader identify areas of strength and areas for growth in nonprofessional counseling.
CRITIQUE: This volume fills an important niche in the provision of audiological services to hearing-impaired children. It provides an excellent step-by-step introduction to the rationale and techniques of nonprofessional counseling as they apply to the pediatric hearing-impaired population. The sections of family issues and family counseling, however, are brief and could be expanded. The book is extremely well-organized across and within its chapters. The writing is clear and enjoyable, and the use of case studies is particularly effective. The Learning Activities are a useful tool for continuing education, as well as for graduate level training. Counseling Children with Hearing Impairment and Their Families is a must-read for educational and pediatric audiologists who recognize that hearing loss is one important issue within the larger dynamic of a child's being and life.