Working Therapeutically With Deaf People Recovering From Trauma and Addiction

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry; Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction | Translational Medical Research | Trauma


OBJECTIVE: This article reviews what is known about behavioral health treatment of deaf persons with comorbid trauma and addiction.

METHOD: We discuss how to work therapeutically with deaf people with comorbid trauma and addiction, both through a review of the literature and through clinical observations of the authors. The article also includes the personal stories of two people-a Deaf peer specialist and a hearing psychiatrist-who share their humbling stories about the recovery process for deaf people and the challenges of learning to become an effective Deaf mental health care provider.

FINDINGS: Deaf people report higher rates of mental health problems than the general population. Although initial empirical work with the deaf population suggests high rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD), little is known about the rates of comorbid PTSD/SUD or how to effectively address this comorbidity in treatment.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Substantial work is needed to raise awareness of comorbid PTSD/SUD and provide treatment tools to agencies and providers who work with deaf clients, infusing trauma-informed care into deaf SUD services and SUD treatment into deaf mental health care. Fortunately, several endeavors are on the horizon to disseminate assessment and treatment tools to work with deaf people recovering from trauma and addiction.


UMCCTS funding

DOI of Published Version



Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2015 May 18. [Epub ahead of print] doi:10.1037/prj0000146. Link to article on publisher's site.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychiatric rehabilitation journal

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID