Language in Psychotherapy with Fluent Bi/Multilingual Clients

Price: $64.00

Oliva Espin, Ph.D
4 CE credit hours
March 10th, 201710:00am-2:30pm - - CANCELLED
Alliant International University
One Beach Street
San Francisco, CA 

I am a Professor Emerita in the Department of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University and the California School of Professional Psychology of Alliant International University. I am a native of Cuba, and I received my BA in Psychology from the University of Costa Rica and my PhD from the University of Florida, specializing in counseling and therapy with women from different cultures and in Latin American Studies.

I have done post-doctoral work at Harvard University with a fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health. I have also received a number of professional awards, including -- in 1991, the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Professional Contribution to Public Service; in 2001, the Distinguished Career Award from the Association for Women in Psychology. My most recent book is titled, Gendered Journeys: Gender, Migration and Feminist Psychology (Palgrave Macmillian, 2015)

Throughout my career I have done research, teaching and consultation and published many articles and books. Recently I have turned my attention to the study of women saints from feminist and psychological perspectives and to the writing of my memoir


In a world where most people speak more than one language, and many individuals use English as second language, it is important to explore the impact of bi/multilingualism on the therapy context. Language is central to all therapy relationships. Therapists need to be alert to the influence of language even though the client may be fluent in English.

Who Is This Course For?

This workshop is designed to increase the effectiveness of therapy for  professionals working with 

- Immigrants and their descendants, 

- Visiting executives, 

- International students and other prospective clients, although all of them may be fluent in English.

Language is more than vocabulary and grammar rules. Indeed, every language is linked to a culture. Every language depends on the concrete context which provides it with its meaning and its boundaries. To some extent, our language and our way of life are one and the same.

What  are the Benefits

1) Understanding the role of the first language:  The first language commonly remains the language of emotions regardless of fluency in other languages. Words we use for describing emotions and feelings in a second language may not fully transmit or evoke our intrapsychic reality. Research shows that memory and access to deepest thoughts, feelings, and ideas are impacted by language.

2) Understanding the role of a second language: Conversely, our second language may provide us with distance from cultural expectations and protect us from embarrassment when expressing some feelings that may be considered inappropriate in our home culture. A second language may provide a vehicle to express the inexpressible in the first language. The exclusive preference of one language over another may compartmentalize the contradictions inherent in the therapy process.

3) Addressing other issues in therapy: How can productive therapeutic interactions between therapists and their multi/bilingual clients develop when they do not share the same first language? What is the role of the second (or third or fourth) language in the therapy context?