Working with interpreters

Leanza, Y.; Miklavcic, A.; Boivin, I. et E. Rosenberg (2013)

Cultural Consultation: Encountering the Other in Mental Health Care. L. Kirmayer, C. Rousseau & J. Guzder (Eds.)

New-York: Springer Science + Business Media | 89-114

Interpreting in medical and especially in psychiatric and psychotherapy settings is an ethical imperative. In mental health, clinical assessment and intervention require that the interpreter have specific skills and sensitivity to work with a patient-centered approach. This chapter provides an orientation to working with mental health interpreters, with a review of relevant research literature and theoretical models followed by guidelines and practical recommendations relevant to cultural consultation. Key principles are presented on how to work with interpreters in various contexts (e.g. CBT, psychodynamic, family therapy). Case vignettes from the CCS are provided throughout the text to illustrate the main points. In cultural consultation, issues of roles, neutrality and the interpreter’s identity (age, gender, ethnicity, religion, political orientation) should be carefully considered. In addition to the individual characteristics of interpreters, it is essential that organizational efforts are made to adapt institutional policies to patients’ linguistic and cultural diversity. Institutional change depends on recognizing interpreters’ skills and contributions to clinical work and encouraging practitioners to work with trained interpreters rather than untrained or ad hoc interpreters, especially family members. Quality assurance standards must formally require the routine use of interpreters in mental health and there must be mechanisms in place to monitor and enforce these standards.