Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1932-2798
  • E-ISSN: 1876-2700
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This article presents a pilot research project which examined the effectiveness of remote, formal support, provided by Colleagues Across Borders, for volunteer interpreters in an immigration detention support NGO. We consider the occupational stress and susceptibility to vicarious traumatization and burnout for interpreters working in sensitive (e.g., refugee) contexts. It is argued that it is an ethical responsibility to keep oneself fit and well-prepared to perform interpreting assignments to the highest standards. The project offered an intervention of remote support for non-professional interpreters in a detention center who needed professional advice and emotional relief. Analysis of pre- and post-intervention focus groups and questionnaires indicates an improvement in self-care, resilience, confidence, and effectiveness after three support sessions, suggesting that a remote yet personal support program can mitigate the effects of vicarious trauma and burnout for non-professional and professional interpreters working in ethically challenging refugee contexts.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association (ASLIA)
    Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association (ASLIA) 2011Guidelines for Interpreting in Mental Health Settings. https://ausit.org/AUSIT/Documents/Mental_Health_Interpreting_Guidelines_for_Interpreters.pdf. Last accessed10 December 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
    British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) 2018Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Lutterworth). www.bacp.co.uk/events-and-resources/ethics-and-standards/ethical-framework-for-the-counselling-professions. Last accessed21 October 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Barsky, Robert F.
    1996 “The interpreter as intercultural agent in convention refugee hearings.” The Translator2 (1): 45–63. 10.1080/13556509.1996.10798963
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13556509.1996.10798963 [Google Scholar]
  4. Berthold, S. Megan and Yael Fischman
    2014 “Social work with trauma survivors: Collaboration with interpreters.” Social Work59 (2): 103–110. doi:  10.1093/sw/swu011
    https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/swu011 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bontempo, Karen and Karen Malcolm
    2012 “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Education interpreters about the risk of vicarious trauma in healthcare settings.” Inour Hands: Educating Healthcare Interpreters, ed. byLaurie Swabey and Karen Malcolm, 105–130. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Boyles, Judith and Nathalie Talbot
    2017Working with Interpreters in Psychological Therapy. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9781315272153
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315272153 [Google Scholar]
  7. Cohen, Keren and Paula Collens
    2013 “The impact of trauma work on trauma workers: A metasynthesis on vicarious trauma and vicarious posttraumatic growth.” Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy5 (6): 570–580. doi:  10.1037/a0030388
    https://doi.org/10.1037/a0030388 [Google Scholar]
  8. Costa, Beverley
    2017 “Team effort – Training therapists to work with interpreters as a collaborative team.” International Journal for Counselling Development39 (1): 1–14.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Costa, Beverley and Stephen Briggs
    2014 “Service-users’ experiences of interpreters in psychological therapy: A pilot study.” International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care10 (4): 231–244. doi:  10.1108/IJMHSC‑12‑2013‑0044
    https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMHSC-12-2013-0044 [Google Scholar]
  10. Crezee, Ineke, Shirley Jülich, and Maria Hayward
    2011 “Issues for interpreters and professionals working in refugee settings.” Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice8 (3): 253–273. 10.1558/japl.v8i3.253
    https://doi.org/10.1558/japl.v8i3.253 [Google Scholar]
  11. Crezee, Ineke, David Atkinson, Robyn Pask, Patrick Au, and Sai Wong
    2015 “Teaching interpreters about self-care.” International Journal of Interpreter Education7 (1): 74–83.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Dean, Robyn K. and Robert Q. Pollard Jr.
    2001 “Application of demand-control theory to sign language interpreting: Implications for stress and interpreter training.” Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education6 (1): 1–14. 10.1093/deafed/6.1.1
    https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/6.1.1 [Google Scholar]
  13. Doherty, Sharon M., Anna M. MacIntyre, and Tara Wyne
    2010 “How does it feel for you? The emotional impact and specific challenges of mental health interpreting.” Mental Health15 (3): 31–44. 10.5042/mhrj.2010.0657
    https://doi.org/10.5042/mhrj.2010.0657 [Google Scholar]
  14. Fawcett, John
    (ed) 2003Stress and Trauma Handbook: Strategies for Flourishing in Demanding Environments. Monrovia, CA: World Vision International.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Gile, Daniel
    2009Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator Training, Revised edition. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/btl.8
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.8 [Google Scholar]
  16. Harvey, Michael A.
    2003 “Shielding yourself from the perils of empathy: The case of sign language interpreters.” Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education8: 207–213. doi:  10.1093/deafed/eng004
    https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/eng004 [Google Scholar]
  17. 2015 “Reaping the benefits of vicarious trauma.” International Journal of Interpreter Education7 (2): 5–20.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Hetherington, Ali
    2011 “A magical profession? Causes and management of occupational stress in the signed language interpreting profession.” InSigned Language Interpreting: Preparation, Practice and Performance, ed. byLorraine Leeson, Svenja Wurm, and Myriam Vermeerbergen, 138–159. Manchester: St Jerome.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. 2012 “Supervision and the interpreting profession: Support and accountability through reflective practice.” International Journal of Interpreter Education4(1): 46–57.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Hlavac, Jim
    2010 “Ethical implications in situations where the language of interpretation shifts: The AUSIT Code of Ethics re-visited.” Translation & Interpreting2 (2): 29–43.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Hobfoll, Stevan E., et al
    2007 “Five essential elements of immediate and mid-term mass trauma intervention: Empirical evidence.” Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes70: 283–315. doi:  10.1521/psyc.2007.70.4.283
    https://doi.org/10.1521/psyc.2007.70.4.283 [Google Scholar]
  22. Inghilleri, Moira
    2011Interpreting Justice. Ethics, Politics and Language. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Knodel, Rebekah K.
    2018 “Coping with vicarious trauma in mental health interpreting.” Journal of Interpretation26 (1): 1–23.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Lai, Miranda, Georgina Heydon, and Sedat Mulayim
    2015 “Vicarious trauma among interpreters.” International Journal of Interpreter Education7 (1): 3–22.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Li, Angela, et al
    2014 “Group cohesion and organizational commitment: Protective factors for nurse residents’ job satisfaction, compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, and burnout.” Journal of Professional Nursing30: 89–99. doi:  10.1016/j.profnurs.2013.04.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.profnurs.2013.04.004 [Google Scholar]
  26. Lipton, George, et al
    2002 “The psychosocial consequences experienced by interpreters in relation to working with torture and trauma clients: A West Australian pilot study.” Synergy3–17.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Maslach, Christina
    1982Burnout: The Cost of Caring. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Maslach, Christina and Susan E. Jackman
    1981 “The measurement of experienced burnout.” Journal of Organizational Behavior2 (2): 99–113. doi:  10.1002/job.4030020205
    https://doi.org/10.1002/job.4030020205 [Google Scholar]
  29. Maslach, Christina, Susan E. Jackman, and Michael P. Leiter
    1996Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual, 3rd ed.Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Merlini, Rafaella
    2015 “Empathy: A ‘zone of uncertainty’ in mediated healthcare practice.” Cultus8: 27–49.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Muriel, Phillipe and Helen C. Smith
    2009 “Talking therapy.” The Linguist48 (2): 7–9.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Ozolins, Uldis
    2014 “Descriptions of interpreting and their ethical consequences.” FITISPos International Journal1: 23–41.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Pearlman, Laurie A. and Karen W. Saakvitne
    1995 “Treating therapists with vicarious traumatization and secondary traumatic stress disorders.” InCompassion Fatigue: Coping with Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder in Those who Treat the Traumatized, ed. byCharles R. Figley, 150–177. New York: Brunner/Mazel.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Pöllabauer, Sonja
    2004 “Interpreting in asylum hearings: Issues of role, responsibility and power.” Interpreting6 (2): 143–180. 10.1075/intp.6.2.03pol
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.6.2.03pol [Google Scholar]
  35. Salaets, Heidi and Katalin Balogh
    2015 “Co-Minor-IN/QUEST research findings.” InChildren and Justice: Overcoming Language Barriers. Cooperation in Interpreter-Mediated Questioning of Minors, ed. byKatalin Balogh and Heidi Salaets, 175–226. Cambridge: Intersentia. 10.1017/9781780685144.005
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781780685144.005 [Google Scholar]
  36. Scarry, Elaine
    1985The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Seligmann, Martin E. P.
    2011Flourish. A Visionary new Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. New York: New York Free Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Tedeschi, Richard G., Cohen L. Park, and Lauwrence G. Calhoun
    1998 “Posttraumatic growth: Conceptual issues.” InPosttraumatic Growth: Positive Changes in the Aftermath of Crisis, ed. byRichard G. Tedeschi, Crystal L. Park, and Lawrence G. Calhoun, 1–22. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 10.4324/9781410603401
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781410603401 [Google Scholar]
  39. Valero Garcés, Carmen and Anne Martin
    (eds) 2008Crossing Borders in Community Interpreting. Definitions and Dilemmas. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/btl.76
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.76 [Google Scholar]
  40. Valero Garcés, Carmen
    2014Health Communication and Multicultural Communities. Topics on Intercultural Communication for Healthcare Professionals. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): burnout; ethical responsibility; professional pairing; remote support; resilience; self-care
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error