Welcome to the Deaf Wellness Center
Part of Strong Memorial Hospital
The Deaf Wellness Center (DWC) is a program of the University of Rochester Medical Center, based in its Department of Psychiatry. The DWC staff engage in clinical services, teaching, and research activities that pertain to mental health, healthcare, sign language interpreting, and other topics that affect the lives of people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
The DWC was first "named" in 1999 but the staff and interns there have been providing mental health services and doing research and teaching since 1990 when Dr. Robert Pollard founded the DWC. The DWC staff consists of psychologist Dr. Amanda O’Hearn who directs the DWC, psychologist Dr. Donna Guardino, and LeeAnne Valentine, Staff Clinician specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy at Deaf Wellness Center and every year, several interns from a variety of professional disciplines. All DWC staff members are fluent in sign language.
The DWC provides evaluation and psychotherapy services to individuals age 17 and older, couples, and families. We also conduct psychiatric evaluations and provide consultation and forensic evaluation services to courts, governments, etc., on topics related to deafness, mental health, and healthcare. Several psychotherapy groups are also conducted at the DWC. Our psychotherapy groups are all-deaf and are conducted in sign language by our sign-fluent therapists. While most of our clients are deaf and use sign language, some are hard-of-hearing, oral deaf, or hearing people with deaf family members. The DWC accepts all forms of health insurance and there is a sliding fee scale for persons with limited income. To schedule an appointment or discuss our services telephone the number above.
Because the DWC is part of the University of Rochester Medical Center, teaching and research are important activities. We teach our own DWC interns, who are becoming psychologists or interpreters and social workers. Our Program for Deaf Trainees is well-known throughout the US and in other countries, too, not only because we recruit deaf interns but also because our deaf interns work frequently with hearing patients (in partnership with sign language interpreters as necessary) at Strong Behavioral Health and Rochester Psychiatric Center. When our deaf interns graduate, they have skills and experience in providing mental health services to deaf and hearing people. The DWC faculty also teach medical students, psychiatry residents, sign language interpreters, and many other types of professionals and staff. We frequently travel throughout the US, and sometimes Europe, teaching and sharing our research findings.
The DWC has managed over $6 million in research and other project grants. We are one of the leading research sites in the US on the topics of deaf people and mental health, sign language interpreting and public health issues affecting the Deaf community. Our largest grants to date have been from the US Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control. Read about our various research projects in the research section of this website.
Research at the DWC has resulted in almost 100 professional publications, a book and video titled "Mental Health Interpreting: A Mentored Curriculum," the Demand Control Schema textbook, our "Applications of Demand Control Schema in Interpreter Education" proceedings book, and an increasing number of films. The "My Body, My Responsibility: A Health Education Video for Deaf Women" features information about puberty, pregnancy, pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted diseases, and the procedures used during a typical OB/GYN examination. We also have produced two Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills training films which address important DBT skills taught through this effective approach to psychotherapy. We have produced eight films for the Centers for Disease Control on a variety of public health topics. We also have produced several films in support of a public education campaign regarding depression and suicide. Many DWC films can be viewed on YouTube. (Search for "Deaf Wellness Center.") To learn more about these products or place an order, contact Dr. Robert Pollard.
Many people contact us for copies of our publications our growing number of film and book products or for information about out workshops. Among our most popular offerings are:
For further information, contact Dr. Amanda O’Hearn.