Skip to main content
URMC / Deaf Wellness Center / Workshops



Group of people communicating in a circle

Request a Workshop or More Information

Email Us

Featured Workshops

The Deaf Wellness Center prides itself on being an excellent educational resource for a variety of professionals-in-training, including those in the mental health fields, sign language interpreters, and healthcare professionals.  These lectures and workshops are also typically presented outside Rochester, NY, through arrangements with a hosting agency or group. ​Additional lecture or workshop topics can be presented besides the options below. 


“It all Depends…” Introduction to Demand-Control Schema

Robyn K. Dean, M.A., C.I./C.T.

After attending this workshop participants will never look at interpreting work the same way again. This workshop dispels several myths about the work of interpreting. First is the myth that interpreters are not active and influential participants in the communication event. The second myth is that the constructs of language and culture, the ways we usually learn about and talk about interpreting work, are sufficient for capturing the phenomenology of interpreting work. The last myth is that there is a limited set of best practice behaviors that, if followed strictly, interpreters will always be ethically sound.

In this workshop, we reconstruct the interpreting event by reformulating and adding to the language and culture factors present in the work with particular emphasis on healthcare interpreting. We pay careful attention to the impact of our decisions and ourselves on the communication event—and not by denying that this impact exists. Last, we will use a very different language around decisions and ethics that creates a best practice process by which professionals can evaluate the myriad decisions available to them in their work. Participants will leave this workshop with new insights about their work, their decisions, their consumers, their colleagues, and the interpreting profession through a new, structured, and holistic paradigm.

Educational objectives:

  1. To understand the current state of the interpreting profession and its lack of a sufficient schema.
  2. To learn about Demand-Control theory (D-C), its relevance to the field of occupational health and the connections between wellness, effectiveness, and ethics.
  3. To gain experience applying the constructs in demand-control schema (DC-S), including the ethical decision-making approach of DC-S dialogic work analysis.
  4. To learn about the importance of supervision in practice professions and how supervision could be used in the field of interpreting.

Demand-Control Schema II, An Ethical Dialogue

Robyn K. Dean, M.A., C.I./C.T.

In the two subsequent training sessions which follow the introductory workshop to demand-control schema (DC-S), participants are taught how to effectively use DC-S as dialogic work analysis in discussions with their colleagues, mentees or students. Dialogic work analysis is the most powerful aspect within DC-S work because it teaches students/mentees how to employ a best practice process .

There has been a significant shift in ethical expectations of the RID from a deontological, or a rule-based approach to a more teological, or goal-based approach. Given that, it is the responsibility of teachers and mentors to no longer teach students what to think ethically but how to think ethically. Unfortunately, most working professionals and educators have learned to make ethical decisions through trial and error and now make most of their ethical decisions intuitively, making the transfer of that knowledge clumsy and likely ineffective.

This workshop will show mentors and teachers how to translate their intuition into constructs and language which then can be readily imparted to students. This workshop will also discuss how mentors and teachers can evaluate student and mentees critical thinking skills.

Educational objectives:

  1. To gain hands-on experience applying the D-C schema through the use of situational analysis tools.
  2. To understand and accurately identify the elements in supervisory conversations that create a “best practice process.”
  3. To learn how to use these teaching tools (situational analyses) with mentees, accounting both for the accurate application of the schema and in the teaching opportunities that emerge from these exercises.
  4. To understand the use and benefits of the observation-supervision approach which builds on and utilizes the D-C schema for effective training in content-specific fields (e.g., medical, mental heath, legal).

Case conferencing/Supervision in Interpreting

Robyn K. Dean, M.A., C.I./C.T.

In his book, The Courage to Teach , Parker Palmer says, “The growth of any craft depends on shared practice and honest dialogue among the people who do it.” However, Palmer is concerned that the current dialogue in the teaching profession is reduced to the technique of teaching and fails to appreciate the human issues of the profession. He suggests that in reducing the profession of teaching to mere technique, we diminish the human-ness of the teacher and “…people do not willingly return to a conversation that diminishes them.”

These comments regarding the teaching profession are also true of the interpreting profession. Yet, the growth of our craft depends on the ability of professionals to share information about effective practice in a clear and honest manner. Palmer suggests that the teaching profession begin a new topic of conversation, structure that conversation with ground rules, and provide the leadership for this honest dialogue to happen.

Talking about your work for the purposes of improvement – reflective learning practice – has many other names: peer consultation, case conferencing, supervision , etc., and is used by many professions as a tool for professional development and the maintenance of ethical behavior. Given the parallels that the interpreting field shares with these other professions it is noteworthy that this common practice is rather foreign to the field of interpreting. However, establishing such a practice within the interpreting field poses many challenges. Some of the barriers include a long history of interpreters feeling criticized by their colleagues, beliefs about the mandate of confidentiality, and doubts about the benefits of discussing one's work with peers.

In this workshop, we address these barriers directly, employ a practice profession approach to interpreting using the demand-control schema, and outline how one might employ this professional development strategy—a strategy that does not place analysis of one's work in an abstracted hypothetical but in the tangible and practical experiences of daily work.

Educational objectives:

  1. To learn how to identify and structure dialogue about the interpreting event using the dialogic work analysis.
  2. To gain practice and experience in case presenting
  3. To understand the importance validation in supervision and how to use it as a technique in encouraging behavioral change.

Mental Health Interpreting: A Practice Profession Approach

Robyn K. Dean, M.A., C.I./C.T.
Robert Q. Pollard, Ph.D.

This training aims to dispel three prevailing myths in the interpreting field: 1) that interpreters are not active and influential participants in the communication event; 2) that the constructs of language and culture are sufficient for capturing the phenomenology of interpreting work; 3) that there is a limited set of best practice behaviors that, if followed strictly, interpreters will always be ethically sound. These myths, while problematic in any setting, become quite serious in mental health interpreting.

In place of these myths this training provides participants with a theoretical construct that more accurately reflects the phenomenology of interpreting work, specifically in mental health settings. This construct, called the demand-control schema for interpreting work, along with fully recognizing and dealing with the presence of the interpreter provides a framework for discussing ethics which is more in line with a practice profession philosophy of ethics. Instead of a deontological or rule-based approach that creates a “best practice” mentality, the demand-control schema for interpreting work creates a teleological or goal-based approach that instead creates a “best practice process” in making ethical decisions. It is within this demand-control schema framework that the topics of psychiatric evaluations, psychopharmacology, substance abuse, and psychotherapeutic approaches will be addressed with particular emphasis on making ethical decisions in line with the goals of these mental health settings.

Educational Objectives

  1. To learn about the factors in mental health settings that impact interpreting work specifically in the topic areas of: psychiatric evaluations, psychopharmacology, substance abuse, and psychotherapeutic approaches
  2. To understand that mental illness is diagnosed through a manner of questioning, through symptoms that manifest themselves linguistically, and through vocal and affectual cues making the interpreter's knowledge and awareness of these symptoms crucial.
  3. To pose and discuss that the team member approach is the most effective paradigm for diagnosing and treating deaf or hard of hearing patients.
  4. To employ a teleological approach to ethics which is more in line with other practice professions.

Demand-Control Schema for Supervisors, Mentors and Educators

Robyn K. Dean, M.A., C.I./C.T.

Demand-control schema (DC-S) training for interpreting supervisors, mentors, and educators is approximately 30 to 40 hours in length spanning a three to five month period. These training hours have been traditionally divided up into two or three in-person visits; this seems to be the most effective approach. However, it is conceivable that a week-long format would work also. Online support for the duration of the training along with an extension following the training is available for an additional per-person fee.

The initial training session (ten to fourteen hours) is designed to be an introduction to the demand-control schema for interpreting work. It can be designed in a general workshop format which would not require a cap on the number of participants. It could also be designed as a program-specific training where the introduction would be geared toward supervisors/mentors and educators only. The goal of this initial training is to discuss the theoretical construct of DC-S. This aspect of the DC-S work addresses three important topics current in the profession: interpreter health and wellness, effective interpreting practice, and ethical decision-making.

The second training (also ten to fourteen hours) is designed for those interested in how this new schema can be taught and used in training programs for interpreters or in supervisory and mentoring relationships. The first training is a prerequisite for the second. If the initial training is opened to a wider audience, then the second training should be kept to about fifteen to twenty participants. For participants continuing on to the second training, homework focused on direct application of the demand-control schema will be assigned. In the second training session, participants learn to reformulate and restructure the elements of interpreting work in accordance with the demand-control schema and its dialogic work analysis method, in particular. Participants will learn to use a structured language around ethical decision making and how to employ this language in case reporting and in supervision discussions.

In between the sessions, participants will be encouraged to use the on line through a Blackboard “course” which provides participants with the opportunity to complete the assignments themselves or to use the assignments in the classroom with support (e.g. grading of assignments) from the trainer.

Educational objectives:

  1. To gain hands-on experience applying the D-C schema through the use of situational analysis tools and the DC-S grading rubric.
  2. To understand and accurately identify the elements in supervisory conversations that create a process for making ethical decisions using a teleological or consequences-based approach.
  3. To learn how to use these teaching tools (situational analyses) with students, mentees, or practitioners accounting both for the accurate application of the schema and in the teaching opportunities that emerge from these exercises.
  4. To understand the use and benefits of the DC-S teaching methodologies such as observation-supervision for use in the classroom.

A Psychological Perspective on Cochlear Implant Programs, Candidate Readiness, and the Implant Controversy

Robert Pollard, Ph.D.

Dr. Pollard's views on the psychological aspects of cochlear implantation have appeared in journals and newspapers and been the subject of numerous presentations to students, Deaf community groups, the general public, surgeons, and other medical personnel in the implant field. He has served as a psychologist on implant teams in California and New York for 15 years and developed influential viewpoints regarding candidate evaluation and informed consent in particular. In this presentation, Dr. Pollard will describe his conceptualizations of candidate readiness and the methods he currently uses in the pre-operative psychological assessment of implant candidates and families of candidates. He will also discuss his emerging viewpoints regarding the spectrum of liberal-to-conservative implant programs and the dynamics that fuel the cochlear implant controversy.

Interpreter Translation in Psychotherapy: What Clinicians Don't know is Happening... But Should!

Robyn K. Dean, MA, C.I./C.T.

"Just translate word for word what I say," is the simplistic statement psychologists often make to interpreters as they prepare to serve individuals who speak languages other than English. The interpreter rarely has time to explain the complexities of language and cross-cultural translation to the psychologist. What would the psychologist think if the interpreter had time to explain the following:

  1. I will indeed need to change the words you have chosen.
  2. I will need to add and delete information during the interpretation.
  3. I will need to make vague and open-ended questions closed and concrete, which will lead and influence how the client answers.
  4. I will add my own judgment to what you mean and what the client means.
  5. My presence and my own needs will influence the flow of the session and the relationship between you and the client.

While these statements are bold and not every situation calls for such diversion from the "word for word"; directive/fantasy, these statements more closely reflect the real work of interpreters in mental health settings.

This presentation grew out of the teamwork experiences of the psychologist and interpreter presenters. Using videotaped excerpts from a family therapy session, they will explain and illustrate the reality and implications of each of the above statements, from both of their professional perspectives. What they learned from one another about the goals and complexities of each of their professional roles, and how those goals and roles were sometimes compatible and sometimes not, has been enlightening to them and to the clinician and interpreter audiences we have presented to in the past.

Dysfluent Language: A Diagnostic and Service Challenge for Clinicians and Interpreters

Robert Q. Pollard, Ph.D.
Robyn K. Dean, M.A., C.I./C.T.

The very nature of an individual's communication, plus the information it conveys, leads to diagnostic and treatment formulations. Dysfluent communication may reflect neurological or psychiatric disorder or the non-medical consequences of impoverished developmental experience. How can these different sources of dysfluency be distinguished by the clinician or the interpreter? Why are they each important? How should the presence of dysfluency be handled in treatment and interpreting situations? The presenters will first discuss diagnostic aspects of language dysfluency and then present a systematic approach to responding to the challenges of dysfluent language in interpreting and treatment settings. These challenges span several domains—linguistic, environmental, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. The options available for responding to communication dysfluency in light of each domain will be detailed. An overriding theme will be the partnership between the clinician and the interpreter in light of their shared prioritization of the consumer's service goals.

Child Psychotherapy via an Interpreter: Challenges and Suggestions

Robyn K. Dean, M.A., C.I./C.T.

Providing psychotherapy to deaf children through the services of a sign language interpreter offers particular challenges to effective treatment. Often, children fail to comprehend and behave in accordance with the expected role boundaries of the interpreter, instead directly engaging the interpreter in conversations or play therapy. Many children fail to understand the fundamental reality that the interpreter's communications are not his or her "own" but instead are the "voice" of the therapist. It is common for children in psychotherapy to form a much stronger bond to the sign-fluent interpreter than the hearing clinician. Hearing therapists, frequently unfamiliar with the experience of deafness, Deaf culture, etc., often fail to make needed adjustments in their communication and therapeutic approaches when serving deaf children and working with an interpreter. As the only individual in the room who truly sees "both sides of the story" interpreters frequently feel unable to step out of rigid role expectations to provide consultation on such matters or interpret in more flexible and effective (though non-traditional) ways. These and other difficulties can create complex and problematic dynamics between the interpreter, the therapist, and the child which in turn may lead to less effective, even iatrogenic (harmful) treatment results. In this presentation, videotapes of interpreted child psychotherapy sessions will be used to illustrate common treatment and communication dilemmas. Methods of preventing and circumventing such problems will be discussed and illustrated ú some addressing methods of interpreting per se, others addressing alternative therapeutic approaches.

Stress and Trauma in the Interpreting Profession: Personal Risk Assessment and Risk Prevention

Robyn K. Dean, M.A., C.I./C.T.
Robert Q. Pollard, Ph.D.

There is a lot of attention these days on the effects of stress in the workplace. Research shows that sign language interpreters are at serious risk for stress and trauma related work impairment. Yet, the differences in personality and interpreting work environments complicate the prediction and prevention of stress-related problems. How does an interpreter gauge his or her individual risk for stress-related illness, injury, and burnout? How can stress in the interpreting profession be understood when our working lives consist of being "guests" in a host of other professions' environments, sometimes on an hour to hour basis? Students will learn about current theories and research findings on occupational stress in the interpreting profession and how to apply this knowledge to their daily work. Emotional reactions and risks in interpreting will also be explored through exercises and class discussion.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Films

We have produced two Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills training films. DBT is a form of psychotherapy designed to help individuals with emotional regulation and other matters. Both films feature dialogue in American Sign Language, a spoken English vocal track, and English captions (subtitles). For further information on DBT research and training at the Deaf Wellness Center, contact Amanda O'Hearn.

  • Opposite Action: An Adaptation from the Deaf Perspective deals with "opposite action" a DBT skill useful in overcoming unhealthy emotional and behavioral habits.
  • Practicing Radical Acceptance: An Adaptation from the Deaf Perspective deals with "radical acceptance," a DBT skill useful in coming to terms with life's tragedies and challenges.