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Opportunity for development or necessary nuisance? The case for viewing working with interpreters as a bonus in therapeutic work

By Rachel Tribe and Kate Thompson


This paper explores the central role a language interpreter can play in the process of the therapeutic relationship. Although others have described the changes to the therapeutic dyad that the presence of a third party (an interpreter) brings, little attention has been paid to the advantages and additional opportunities of this altered therapeutic situation. This paper details these gains and further argues that clinicians who are willing to gain experience of working with interpreters will find that benefits accrue at the micro and macro levels: at the micro level, through enhancement of their work with individual non English speaking clients, and at the macro level through learning about different cultural perspectives, idioms of distress and the role of language in the therapeutic endeavour. This is in addition to developing skills to fulfil legal and professional requirements relating to equity of service provision. Some ideas are offered to explain the negative slant than runs throughout the literature in this area and tends to colour the overall discussion of therapeutic work with interpreters and, before the final section, makes some specific suggestions which may help maximise the gains possible in such work while reducing difficulties

Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:roar.uel.ac.uk:550

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