Café con TCOM:
Spanish-speaking collaborative
at the 2022 TCOM Conference

by: Ari Acosta Hernandez (she/ella)

Bilingual Senior Policy Analyst, TCOM trainer at the Center for Innovation in Population Health, at the University of Kentucky, TCOM Blog Editor, and bilingual mental health and equity specialist.

“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.

Four cups of coffee held close as friends celebrating their time together
Celebrating friendship and comradery over a cup of coffee

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)
Ari Acosta Hernandez (she/ella)

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.

8 Responses

  1. OMG!! Muchismos Gracias!!! Thank you for putting this together and for mentioning my presentation on caregiving. It’s was a very personal family story highlighting the struggles in caregiving children within my own familia. I would LOVE to participate in this cafecito con todos ustedes!! Can’t wait to get to know you all using my Spanglish. 🙂 Please keep me informed!!

    1. Hi Roxanne! Absolutely 🙂 It was a wonderful presentation, in person and online! Tias are magical! I’ll make sure to reach out but we will have a roundtable in the Conference this year in Kentucky that I would love for you to join.
      Thank you for what you do!

  2. Ari I am so glad I joined you for Cafe con TCOM! Thank you so much for starting this very important and necessary initiative ! I’m glad you enjoyed the Immigration Trauma training at the 2022 conference . I am looking forward to connecting with you and others for TCOM 2023 in Kentucky ! “ When there’s a will there a way” . Si se puede !

    1. So excited to connect with you again Rita! So much incredible work is happening and I’m so glad I get to learn from you 🙂
      See you in Kentucky!

  3. I remember the sharing of Café con TCOM on the Webex Events app at conference in New Orleans! This article captures the very essence ‘person-centered’ and its implications on the many levels of the work, including with on those we serve. The beauty of Cultures can be seen in the depth of Language. Thank you, Ari, for sharing how we all can make a difference, especially coupled with incredible people and a good cup of coffee! Looking forward to seeing everyone in Kentucky!

  4. Thank you for your comment Josh! I can’t wait to hear the stories on how this framework literally translate into the work in many communities around the world.

  5. It’s certainly easy to take for granted when we’re able to communicate professionally in our first language and often difficult to conceptualize what it might be like not to. This is such a great illustration of the ways our community puts the ideas of TCOM into practice and I can’t wait to hear more about your discussions.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: