Hearing loss is a communication disorder. It affects both the person attempting to be understood and the person who is trying to understand what is being said. The cooperation of both is necessary for preventing and reducing communication problems.
Some facilitators prefer to have a separate group for people who have hearing loss and another group for their communication partners (spouses and friends). Other facilitators prefer to include both in the same group.
An advantage of including everyone in the same group is that the cooperation of both speakers and listeners is necessary for preventing or reducing communication problems. Both contribute to communication difficulties and both need to change their habits to reduce difficulties. Once people are able to see the difficulties as our problem, rather than his or her problem, they are in a better position to cooperatively work on solutions for those problems.
It can also be more cost effective to conduct one program that includes communication partners, rather than splitting the group into two sub-groups.
Overall, it is best to do whatever feels most comfortable, especially during your first Group AR program. You may want to conduct a session without communication partners first, and then invite them at a later session.
Facilitators or Inhibitors?
Communication partners, such as friends and family members, can facilitate or inhibit a person to take action action and improve communication. Group AR can help ensure that communication partners are a positive force and support communication goals.
Trychin, Samuel. (1994). Helping people cope with hearing loss. In Clark, J.G. & Martin, F. (eds). Effective counseling in audiology: Perspectives and practice. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Trychin, Samuel (2003) Living with Hearing loss: Workbook Erie, PA.
Preminger, J.E. (2003). Should significant others be encouraged to join adult group audiologic rehabilitation classes? Journal of the American Academy of Audiology,14,547-58.