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Professional Interpreters and Vicarious Trauma: An Australian Perspective

A paper in the Qualitative Health Research Journal by Dr Miranda Lai and Dr Susie Costello.


This qualitative study is conducted via focus groups with 47 Australian public service interpreters to investigate their responses to vicarious trauma (VT) in their practice, the influence of culture, and their views on how to maintain mental well-being.

While participant interpreters employ various strategies to deal with traumatic client content and other work stressors, cultural inhibitors are found to prevent some from sharing their emotional vulnerability or seeking professional help. They indicated that they want to be treated with respect and as part of the professional team, rather than a machine or a shadow.

Professional development is needed to clarify the limits of confidentiality, explain trauma and its vicarious possibilities, and to establish interpreters’ professional entitlement to briefing and debriefing. Stakeholders including educators, professional associations, interpreting agencies, and other professions and institutional users of interpreting services should work respectfully and collaboratively to prevent and help interpreters recover from VT.

If you wish to find out more or enquire about the paper please contact Dr Miranda Lai

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