Café con TCOM:
at the 2022 TCOM Conference
“Hola! Hablas Español?”
… were the first words I exchanged with Jorge Sanchez, Iris Lopez, and Ana Burns after hearing them speak in Spanish in the hallway at the TCOM National Conference in New Orleans. After introductions, laughter, and immediate camaraderie you can only feel when you connect with people in your first language, we decided to have coffee the next morning together. Jorge thought of reaching out to others using the Webex app to see if more Spanish speaker attendees would like to connect. The next morning, we had about eight people sitting at a round table, drinking coffee, eating breakfast, and talking in Spanglish as the Key speaker, who was sitting at our table with us, was getting ready to start the Conference’s day.
We all came from diverse backgrounds and different professional skills, but whether we grew up speaking Spanish or wanted to practice it, we shared our experiences and discussed the unique challenges faced by our communities. Through lively and thought-provoking discussions, we discovered a shared passion for using TCOM principles to improve the lives of Spanish-speaking individuals and families in the work we do.
During the Conference, we were pleased to attend and participate in many related work presentations, where members of the table were authors as well: Rita Camarillo presented on Immigration Trauma and Using the Crisis Assessment Tool (CAT), Rafael Perez Figueroa was a key speaker on “Strengthening Community Engagement to Advance Health Equity,” but also many other presentations like Roxanne Stephen’s titled “A caregiver, a tía, a social worker and 2 sisters: A case study on caregiving, family, and culture”, or Miguel Gallardo’s key virtual presentation “Cultural humility: Bridging the divide and filtering the Air we Breathe.” Great work was being done at a national level by members of the TCOM community that related to multicultural, Spanish-speaking children, youth, and families, so we needed a space to connect, support and share insights together while drinking cafécitos.
Conversations about TCOM in Spanish
We discussed the challenges and benefits of applying the TCOM philosophy to Spanish. As in any translation, language barriers can present a challenge in effectively communicating the TCOM approach, but also a well-done translation needs the extra effort of validating the content for the community it’s serving, making sure the information is delivered, received, and processed how it was intended to, without any confusion or loss of meaning. We also discussed the meaning of some of the items, where culture was a main variable. How do you rate needs around language, traditions, rituals, or cultural stress? Does the item of family strength and natural supports is difficult to separate as the definition of family includes more than the immediate members? How do you practice principle 4?
However, translating the TCOM philosophy into Spanish is been a needed task with many benefits. It starts with expanding this person-centered framework to more people, increasing its accessibility and management; it incorporates the feedback and perspectives of Spanish-speaking communities and professionals to improve its implementation; it practices its own principle of considering culture and development to any assessments, but also uses its value of a collaborative approach, as this is an effort that requires the support of many bilingual professionals.
Why Café con TCOM?
Inspired by the need to continue the connection after the Conference, we decided to form a group called Café con TCOM through Whatsapp. The aim of Café con TCOM is to bring together Spanish-speaking behavioral health professionals to collaborate, learn, and share best practices in using TCOM to support the Spanish-speaking community.
What's Next for Café con TCOM?
We’re preparing to connect again at the 2023 TCOM Conference in Kentucky with a proposal for future collaborations to keep our work growing for the Spanish-speaking community! If you’re interested in sharing your experience in joining us for a coffee chat, comment below! We would love to start meaningful conversations around TCOM in Spanish, the experiences with the tools on diverse communities, and your ideas. Gracias to Ana, Augusto, Iris, Jorge, Rafael, Rita, Zulema, and many others who’ve been contributing to this great work! Nos vemos en Kentucky!
Ari Acosta Hernandez (she/ella) is a bilingual mental health and equity specialist and one of our TCOM trainers at the IPH Center. She focuses on training professionals in the TCOM tools in English and Spanish, as well as provides support on instructional designing and TCOM implementations. Ari is a clinical psychologist by training and a former psychology assistant professor in Venezuela with many years of experience in mental health, gender studies, and human rights education. She’s passionate about bringing her knowledge and expertise into innovative projects to help others.