• Other Tongues: psychological therapies in a multilingual world

Other Tongues: psychological therapies in a multilingual world

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ISBN 9781910919620
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Multilingual clients are different from monolingual clients. So writes Beverley Costa at the start of this groundbreaking book. Other Tongues challenges counsellors and psychotherapists to consider more deeply the tool that is central to their work – namely, language. Costa argues that a profession that practises ‘talking therapy’ should consider more carefully the challenges and opportunities working multilingually presents. She argues that multilingualism should be a core part of the training curriculum for all counsellors and psychotherapists, and a subject for sensitive exploration with clients. She also explores the important role of interpreters in giving a voice to clients who do not speak English as a first language, and offers guidance on good practice to counsellors working with them.

The book is a powerful plea to the counselling profession to acknowledge the riches clients’ other languages can bring to the therapeutic relationship. To ignore multilingualism risks not only overlooking important meanings in the nuances of emotional expression but also perpetuating inequalities in access to therapy.

Foreword by Professor Suman Fernando


1. Multilingualism, psychological therapies and the client perspective

2. Multilingualism, psychological therapies and multilingual therapists

3. Interpreter-mediated therapy

4. Training to work with multilingualism in psychological therapies

5. Linguistically sensitive clinical supervision

6. Multilingualism in groupwork with children and adolescents, adults and wider systems


'This is a courageous book that values the gift of cultural difference within the therapeutic relationship. Drawing on case histories, real-world clinical examples, training and supervision, it stimulates reflection on working with difference and identity. The practical suggestions for working therapeutically with multilingualism are an excellent resource for all therapists working in a multicultural world, irrespective of theoretical orientation. This book is a major contribution to the advancement of developing transcultural and cross-cultural competencies in the therapeutic frame.'

Divine Charura, Professor of Counselling Psychology, School of Education, Language and Psychology, York St John University

'Other Tongues focuses on the multilingual aspect of language in therapy, exploring this through both a personal and political lens and teaching us how multilingualism can be used as a therapeutic asset. Its examination of how the themes of power, privilege and agency relate to language is a timely and valuable contribution to the continuing dialogues in the therapy field on systemic racism and anti-oppressive practice.'

Jude Boyles, psychological therapist specialising in the refugee and human rights field, manager of the Refugee Council's New Roots therapy services in South Yorkshire, and editor of Psychological Therapies for Survivors of Torture (PCCS Books, 2017)

'Beverley’s text provides a significant contribution to the area of multilingualism within the field of psychological therapies. Despite our rich multicultural and multiracial world, multilingualism has been a rather neglected subject. It is now timely to grapple with what it means to be bi/multilingual. Through this text, Beverley has opened up a treasure box, illustrating the multifaceted and emotional meanings of language. The text makes a strong argument that, in order to best serve the needs of our clients, language and multilingualism matters must be incorporated into therapeutic, interpreter and collegiate discussions.' 

Dr Zack Eleftheriadou, psychotherapist, Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a British Psychoanalytic Council Scholar and lecturer and pastoral tutor at the Institute of Arts in Therapy and Education.

‘This is a much-needed contributions to a still under-researched and often neglected area. No one captures the complexity of multilingualism as well as Dr Costa – it is a wonderfully rich and accessible book.’

Sofie Bager-Charleson, psychotherapist and supervisor, Senior Fellow and Director of Studies, Metanoia Institute, London

Beverley Costa

Dr Beverley Costa grew up in East London in a family with three languages and two religions and cultural practices. After training as a counsellor, psychotherapist and group psychodramatist, she set up Mothertongue, a multi-ethnic counselling service, to meet a gap she observed in services for multilingual clients. In 2009 she created a pool of mental health interpreters within Mothertongue and in 2010 established the national Bilingual Therapist and Mental Health Interpreter Forum. Beverley founded The Pasalo Project in 2017 (www.pasaloproject.org) to disseminate learning from Mothertongue. She is a Senior Practitioner Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, and has published a number of papers and chapters on therapy across languages. With Professor Jean Marc Dewaele, she won the 2013 BACP Equality and Diversity Research Award. Beverley has delivered training and supervision to statutory and voluntary sector health and social care organisations for the past two decades and has produced two anthologies of interpreters’ stories and a play about a couple in a cross-language relationship, for the Soho Theatre, London. She co-founded the performance group of interpreters, Around the Well, in 2018.

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Beverley Costa