How Patients Benefit From Having a Bilingual Therapist

Therapy is intensely personal. Therefore, it can be comforting for patients to be able to speak in their native tongue. Even if they’re fluent in English, talking with someone who understands both their language and culture can offer many advantages. 

If you’re thinking of seeking out bilingual therapists for your team, know this can make a world of difference to your patients. Language brings people together and allows them to form a kinship, which can quickly help patients bond with their therapist. Here’s a look at a few benefits patients can realize by having a therapist who speaks their language. 

Enhanced Communication 

It goes without saying that a language barrier can make a therapy session difficult, if not impossible. If the patient and therapist are struggling to understand one another, they’re going to be more focused on translation than the issues that brought them together.  

Even if the therapist is able to understand the patient on the surface, they might have trouble really grasping what they’re saying. People who speak different languages can sometimes structure stories differently, which makes it hard for non-native-speakers to follow. 

Increased Understanding 

When a patient opens up to their therapist, they’re sharing more than just words. A therapist needs the ability to understand the emotions behind what a patient says. While words might sound the same across languages, their meanings are often very different, which can make them easy to misinterpret. 

An effective therapist needs the ability to interpret both what the patient says and the emotion behind it. If they’re unable to understand the cultural context of the conversation, they can miss key indicators that will help them really get to the core of their patients. 

More Meaningful Sessions 

The ability to speak in their native tongue gives patients a strong sense of comfort. When they’re able to share their feelings in this language, the conversation is more authentic and powerful. This can create a stronger emotional release that allows patients to leave the session really feeling like they’ve moved forward. 

Patients feel more connected to therapists who speak their native language, because this is a major bond they share. Consequently, they’re more like to open up and really let the therapist in. 

Higher Quality Care 

If a patient doesn’t feel a connection with their therapist, they won’t open up. This makes therapy essentially ineffective because patients can’t be helped if their therapist doesn’t truly understand their unique situation. Language is a huge part of this, because it essentially serves as the gatekeeper for conversation. 

When a language  or cultural barrier  is present, patients often don’t feel heard. This will cause them to leave their sessions feeling like something is lacking. Eventually, they might decide to stop therapy altogether, if they don’t feel like their therapist really gets them.  

Having bilingual therapists on staff can allow your facility to better serve patients from other cultures. To learn more about how we can help you find top behavioral health talent, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at 

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