Zoe Harrison: Developing my ‘listening eyes’ as a deaf counsellor

Posted on February 24, 2015

My first counselling experience was enough to make me cringe, due to the lack of understanding about why I needed to see one.

I was told to talk about whatever was bothering me, so I must admit at the time I thought counselling was something that would take over my problem and deal with my situation. I was wrong.

I had no interpreter and because I am severely/profoundly deaf, I couldn’t communicate easily with the counsellor.

During that first counselling experience I had, I was treated like a child and felt that the counsellor didn’t understand me and my problem or the situation, so it was left unresolved.

I had counselling again later on, this was with an interpreter but there was no improvement because there wasn’t a good sense of privacy, and again the counsellor had a lack of understanding of a deaf person’s view, which left me feeling frustrated.

That counsellor concluded that I was lacking in confidence and have low self-esteem.

Well, I am a deaf person who has had to struggle to understand and develop life skills on many different levels, and I felt I had to adapt to the counsellor’s level, and I couldn’t because I am not hearing.

Years fly by, and I slowly developed through many experiences that life threw at me. I noticed that people confided in me with many different conversations that required listening ears – or in my case eyes.

I developed an interest in counselling and realised that deaf people lack having a counsellor that can provide them with the understanding that a hearing person who has no deaf awareness can’t.

And I was bored, a housewife with nothing to do, so I decided that I would do a college course and something useful too, that would help me to help myself as well as others.

So I choose to do counselling and was put through to do level two introduction to counselling. The bonus was that I could do it at home and there was no deadline, which is useful since I am a mother of two boys who are still in their school years.

I realised I wanted to develop this area of counselling more and understand more what skills were needed to develop.

I had counselling again halfway through my course, again with no interpreter.

I had difficulty understanding my counsellor as she wasn’t English, but this time it was different as I was already halfway through my course with an distinction mark.

The counsellor had trouble understanding me and I was told I was a difficult person to read. As a counsellor we must develop the skill to read people’s body language in order to understand their state of mind, but my counsellor failed to understand me.

At the end of the session, my counsellor asked me why I thought I needed counselling. I felt my point had been dismissed – even though I have studied counselling, I needed some counselling to help me overcome and face up to some situations that I had difficulty dealing with.

I passed my course and received a certificate at the end of it, and I was really proud at how far I had come in my learning and understanding. I also thought again about how other deaf people need a counsellor who can understand them.

I have developed a new level of understanding, and I am more observant now. I am really pleased I have come this far.

I hope to take it further by doing level three and hope to be a counsellor for deaf people, since I am able to sign and have good English.

I am not sure how I will go about setting this up but I think deaf people would benefit from having counselling with a counsellor who is deaf and can very much understand them.

Zoe is severely/profoundly deaf, a full time mum and wife with an interest in counselling and writing poems. She is fluent in BSL and hopes to become a counsellor for deaf people.

The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. 

Make sure you never miss a post by finding out how to follow us, and don’t forget to check out what our supporters provide: 

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.  Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.

The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:


Tagged: ,
Posted in: zoe harrison