Extract from Other Tongues by Beverley Costa

Extract from Other Tongues by Beverley Costa

Chapter 1 - A multilingual client is different from a monolingual client. But multilingualism is largely ignored in core therapy trainings, which tend to be rooted in a monolingual ideology. That is quite surprising, given that multilingualism is on the increase.1 I have spent a long time wondering why this might be the case. Why would psychotherapists ignore a linguistic phenomenon when their profession is referred to as the ‘talking cure’?

Possible explanations that have occurred to me cluster around the issue of power. They generally include anxieties about inclusion and exclusion – who understands and who doesn’t; the poor reputation for and experiences of mother-tongue English speakers when learning other languages, and the often unacknowledged colonial heritage and worldwide status of English as a prestige language and default lingua franca.

Another explanation, more specifically related to psychological therapies, is the recent emphasis placed on the embodied and somatic experiences of human beings. This attention to body language is very welcome in the treatment of, for example, trauma (Rothschild, 2000; van der Kolk, 2014).

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