Knowing a second language is a very valuable tool for social workers and mental health clinicians. However, I have learned that knowing a language does not mean you can easily use it in social work settings.
For example, therapist in Spanish is el/la terapeuta, not terapista!
Of course, we can get around by simply describing things, and we certainly do not want to use too much social work jargon when speaking to clients. Still, I have needed to improve my mental health Spanish.
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Here are some resources that I have used to improve my Spanish:
- An English-Spanish Manual for Mental Health Professionals by Veronica Gutierrez, PhD, Cher Rafiee, and Erin Kelly Bartelma. (Click here for link) This book has examples of important phrasing for things like limits to confidentiality agreements. It also has a brief introduction about different cultural afflictions (ie ataque de nervios, mal del ojo). I highly recommend this one.
- Facts for Families (link embedded) by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Facts for Families has fact sheets for different mental health topics (ie depression, ADHD), and the sheets are available in Spanish. I sometimes print them for my clients, or simply read them to see the language used in the article Love it!
- Latinx Podcast by Adriana Alejandre, LMFT. This podcast brings Spanish-speaking professionals to talk about Latinx mental health topics. I listen to the Spanish episodes to hear the phrases used.
- Emociones in Harmony Podcast by Carmen Roman, PhD. This podcast also has Spanish episodes on mental health topics. Again, I use it to hear how the speaker uses her Spanish.
- Spanishdict.com This one may seem obvious, but it is important for “what’s that word?” moments. Better than Google Translate, it has examples of the word used in a sentence AND gives a list of all conjugations for verbs.
For Early Spanish Learners
- Outreach Spanish, 2nd Edition by William C Harvey, MS. This book is basically a Spanish textbook. It only has formal conjugations listed (Usted- for speaking formally, usually to someone older than you). It lists basic vocabulary (ie. chair, desk), but also more advanced vocabulary (ie. foster child, therapist). (Click here for link)
- Accelerated Spanish podcast by Master of Memory. This podcast should be listened to from start to finish. It uses the memory palace technique and fun stories to help you learn Spanish. Even if you already know some Spanish, I recommend listening to ensure proper grammar. You can also check it out at masterofmemory.com
Any other tips ideas? Please comment and let me know! I may add a part 2 or edit this blog post. Either way, I will incorporate new info as best I can!
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