A Greek experience
12 / 1994
The vocational training and rehabilitation program was established since 1988, and it’s aim is to train young deaf in subjects for which there is demand in the market and in which they can be successful, in this case : computer operation, computer programming and computer accounting. The goals of the counselling group during the program are the following :
members have a chance to
a- express themselves in personal terms
b- to discuss about their training in the program
c- to think about employment and its meaning for them.
The group’s meeting held once a week during 75 minutes. At the beginning the sign language interpreter is present. Often the members and the leader of the group decide together to continue without the presence of the interpreter. The themes which appear in the group in the beginning refer mostly to practical matters and to trust. From the moment trust has been built group members start to bring personal matters. As the group goes on, we discover that there is a lot of anger, disappointment, loneliness, guilt, fear behind the nothing/empty answer. It is difficult to talk about the past; it hurts. When the group realizes that it can contain painful feelings without being destroyed by them, the effort for expression start. For a deaf person, the difficulty to express emotional experiences connects very much to the trauma of his hearing parents experience. They try to deal with the deafness of their child by not talking about it and by placing an emphasis on practical issues. So parents do not speak and children do not sign about feelings. It leads to put pressure on the group’s leader to bring topics for discussion in the group. Then he tries to encourage personal involvement and the group members share their ideas.
There are topics concerning issues like contraception,sexuality (connected with danger), motherhood, aids, drugs, environmental pollution. Some questions appear : "why and how this happened to me?" "why to be born (or become)deaf?" "who really am I?" "why am I here?" Also appears the question of why they come to the training program and the issue of work employment. Finally, the counselling group seems to become "an intermediate space" for the young deaf of a hearing family to work upon his identity under the title of rehabilitation.
It is important to say that the young deaf in Greece has very limited opportunities and alternatives for vocational training. Sign language has not yet been recognized and there is no specialized services in the field of mental health. So, the pioneer experience related in this paper takes on particular interest. The clinical material given is very rich.
GESTES Groupe d’Etude Spécialisé "Thérapies et Surdités"organised in Paris the third international congress of ESMHD European Society for Mental Health and Deafnesson december 1994. Publication of the proceedings will occur later on.
Written from the speech of Lena KORALLI, Psychologist, Programme of Vocational Training and Rehabilitation for the Unemployed Young Deaf, Argyroupolis, 64 Louizis Riancour, 11523 Athens, GREECE. Tel: 68 47 734, Fax: 99 34 831
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KORALLI, Léna, GESTES
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