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Latest news from the Deaf Wellness Center

Dr. Donna Guardino, a clinical psychologist at DWC, has been awarded the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship.

Addressing Healthcare Disparities in Deaf Communities: Development and Evaluation of Deaf-ACCESS Training
Long-term Goal: Develop an evidence-based training that can be provided to other clinics within URMC.

The Dean’s Teaching Fellowship is a 2-year long program focused on teaching fellows educational techniques to incorporate into their work, helping fellows develop educational research skills and implement novel educational interventions. Each fellow has an educational project. Dr. Guardino’s project focuses on teaching providers in training on cultural competency with effective use of Deaf interpreter and hearing ASL interpreter teams through simulation. 

Dr. Aileen Aldalur, DWC Director of Research, is awarded the University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group Quality Institute Healthcare Innovation Award 

Creating Deaf Equity in Behavioral Health Measurement 
Principal Investigators: Aileen Aldalur& Wyatte Hall 
Co-investigators: Kimerly Van Orden, Jorilee Pettinger, Lori Day, Melissa Anderson 
Project Dates: 4/1/24 – 3/31/26

This project focuses on translating several mental health screening measures as well as two Deaf cultural measures into American Sign Language and pilot testing the translated measures in URMC clinics over the next two years.

Dr. Aileen Aldalur, DWC Director of Research, presents Building a Program of Deaf Mental Health Research at URMC

Our director of research, Dr. Aileen Aldalur, presented a Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds about building a program of Deaf mental health research at URMC. 

Building a Program of Deaf Mental Health Research at URMC: Current Progress and Future Directions 
George Engel Research Rounds Presentation in Psychiatry, February 28, 2024 
Speaker: Aileen Aldalur, Ph.D.

DWC Members presents My Late Deaf Son’s Journey at URMC: Barriers to Treatment and Partnership Opportunities for Effective Services for Deaf Patients in Psychiatry

Our clinical director, Dr. Amanda O’Hearn, and clinical psychologist, Dr. Donna Guardino, joined Mary Karol Matchett in a presentation about her late son’s struggles in receiving mental health support as a Deaf patient and family, and how we can make psychiatry services more accessible in the future at URMC. 

My Late Deaf Son’s Journey at URMC: Barriers to Treatment and Partnership Opportunities for Effective Services for Deaf Patients in Psychiatry
Department of Psychiatry John Romano Clinical Rounds, February 14, 2024 
Speakers: Amanda M. O'Hearn, PhD, Donna L. Guardino, PhD, Patricia Canne, MSW, William S. Hayes,  Dr. Mary Karol Matchett & Morgan Underwood, MS.  

The Deaf Wellness Center goes to the 2024 American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association conference in Atlanta, GA 

​Several members of our team will be presenting about our work at the 2024 ADARA Conference - ADARA. See below for a list of our presentations: 

Mindful Eating Groups: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Adaptations to Decrease Emotional Eating 
Amanda M. O'Hearn & Sharon Haynes
Date: 5/30/24 1:45 – 3:00 pm
Abstract: Mindfulness helps focus our attention on the present moment, while disengaging from habitual, unskillful behaviors. Mindfulness practices have been used to treat depression, anxiety, stress and chronic pain. Mindfulness principles are core in the teaching of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills. DBT has been modified for a variety of patient populations. We have modified the DBT protocol used for use with Deaf clients who identify emotional eating as a problem. Groups focus on skills acquisition as well as mindful eating practices on a regular basis to have a more satisfying relationship to food and eating. In mindful eating, one learns what foods satisfy physical hunger and when eating is being driven by something other than physical hunger.

Eye Movement Therapies and Research into Their Effectiveness with DHH Clients 
 Mike DennigerAileen Aldalur, Ph.D.& Jessica Kuehne
Date: 5/30/24 1:45 – 3:00 p.m. 
Abstract: The workshop will begin with movement and sensory activities to both relax participants and to signal that MEMI therapy is less about cognitions and more about what happens in the body as a result of our experiences--be they pleasant or frightening. That will be followed by a brief overview of MEMI's theory, protocol, assessments and basic eye movements for those who are new to the therapy. To show the therapy in action, a demonstration video of a session with a DHH person who wants to overcome a resentment will be shown. In the second part of the presentation, the differences between four eye movement therapies (MEMI, EMDR, Accelerated Resolution Therapy and Brainspotting) will be explained along with their theoretical orientations, course requirements and total costs for certification. This section will conclude with analyses of recent research studies evincing the pivotal role that eye movements play in the deactivation of fear memories where they are formed and persist in the amygdala. In the final phase of this presentation, the Dr. Aileen Aldalur and Dr. Jessica Kuehne, co-chairs of a research group formed to study the use of MEMI with DHH subjects, will report on the group's activities to date and future plans. The team is currently studying practitioner attitudes regarding the use of MEMI with DHH subjects. If the results are promising, MEMI might be converted into a manualized treatment in preparation for controlled studies of the therapy's outcomes with DHH individuals.

Pilot Testing a Cognitive Behavioral Intervention to Promote Mental Health Treatment Engagement among Deaf Individuals 
Aileen Aldalur, Ph.D. & Sean Cosslett
Date:  5/31/24 11:30 – 12:45 p.m.
​Abstract: This workshop will explore Deaf adult’s treatment-seeking beliefs and barriers using the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as a framework and present data from an open pilot trial of an intervention designed to increase Deaf adult’s mental health treatment-seeking behaviors. Background information about the TPB applied to mental health treatment-seeking and the development of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Treatment-Seeking (CBT-TS) will be presented as context. The presenters will discuss the process of adapting CBT-TS to meet the unique needs of Deaf adults following the ADAPT-ITT model, a pragmatic framework for adapting evidence-based interventions (Wingood & DiClemente, 2008). Data will be presented from two qualitative studies, funded by the National on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, that informed the adaptation process. Finally, the presenters will present preliminary results of an ongoing, single-arm, open pilot trial of the adapted intervention, Deaf CBT-TS, funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Participants include 30 Deaf adults with untreated depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, or alcohol use disorder. Participants complete baseline assessments of their symptoms, beliefs about treatment, and intentions to seek treatment prior to receiving the intervention (1-2 sessions). One month later, participants complete a follow-up assessment of their symptoms, beliefs about treatment, intentions to seek treatment, and utilization of treatment services since their intervention session. Participants also complete an exit interview including ratings of their level of satisfaction and feedback about the intervention sessions. We will discuss preliminary results from the trial and next steps for the intervention’s continued development.

Emotion Regulation Skills System: Bridging the DBT Gap for Deaf Individuals with Language Deprivation
 Donna L. Guardino & Amanda M. O'Hearn
Date: 5/31/24 3:30 – 4:45 p.m.
​Abstract: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is an evidence based approach that was designed for hearing people. The Deaf Wellness Center (DWC) modified the DBT protocol for Deaf clients to use; however, deaf language deprived clients has not benefitted much from the materials leading us to finding Dr. Julie Brown’s work. Dr. Brown strayed away from the DBT protocol and made materials more accessible, for individuals who have cognitive challenges, by concretizing information and teaching it in chunks. DWC has modified Dr. Brown’s work and has found the materials to be easily digested by our clients. The focus of this presentation is to have therapists be familiar with this approach and use it as needed with their clients who struggle with the original DBT adaptions.

Dora Tin, LMSW, at the National Deaf People of Color Conference at Gallaudet University in 2023

Working Together Towards Racial Healing
Speakers: Dora Tin, LMSW
Date: July 21, 2023 

When we start to recognize our shared humanity and how racism has harmed us all collectively in different ways…The ‘Working Together Towards Racial Healing’ is a series of four workshops designed to work towards racial healing to identify and address the historic and contemporary effects of racism — to help communities heal and produce actionable, sustainable change.