Experiences of the bilingual client in therapy have received attention in the literature but accounts of the experience of the bilingual therapist are strikingly sparse. The purpose of this study was to focus on the bilingual therapist's perception of the impact of language on the therapeutic process. To achieve this goal, the researcher interviewed therapists who speak Spanish as a second language and work with native Spanish-speaking clients. Data analysis was completed using ethnographic research methods, which resulted in the emergence of three themes. The first theme included therapists' perceived obstacles to second-language therapy. Each of the participants in the study discussed things that made therapy in a second language more difficult for them than in their native English. The second theme that emerged included the compensatory coping strategies. Many of the therapists interviewed discussed certain strategies they employed to prepare themselves to offer competent services to the Spanish-speaking community. These coping skills compensated for the obstacles that were unavoidable in their second-language work. The third and final theme included the facilitative beliefs about Spanish-language work experience. Each of the therapists interviewed for this study expressed certain beliefs that enabled them to continue offering services in Spanish in the face of some intense difficulties. These beliefs gave therapists a positive spin on their experiences, and enhanced their beliefs that doing therapy in Spanish was worth the added effort it took to do therapy in a second language. Implications for clinicians as well as future research are presented.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage and Family Therapy



Date Submitted


Document Type





Therapy, Bilingual, Spanish, Language, Therapist, Alliance