Vicarious Trauma and the Professional Interpreter

Here is an interesting new blog post by Dr Robert Muller of York University which explore the ways in which professional interpreters (aka translators) can be deeply impacted by their work, particularly with trauma survivors and refugees. I remember being told the same thing by a sign language interpreter last year. She said (and I quote loosely) “you know when the signer is angry? Well I have to express that anger to the listener, I am the channel through which the anger, or whatever other emotion is being expressed, passes through. It can be very draining work from that perspective.”

2 Responses to Vicarious Trauma and the Professional Interpreter

  1. Françoise says:

    Merci pour ton message Cheryl-Lynn, I totally agree, there are professions out there that are completely forgotten – the crime scene photographer, the clerks, the janitors, the receptionists….they deserve our support and training. We still have a long way to go even among the officially recognised “helping professions”. My hope is that my website and resources can help move us a bit closer in the right direction.

    Thank you! Françoise

  2. There are so many areas your support and expertise is needed. Working on the youth help line, I get calls from operators Bell-Relay, Rogers etc. and the narratives they have to read back to our service, counsellors, certainly exposes them to on-going traumatic stories.

    I hope your message/services gets across to Bell, Rogers, Aliant etc. I bet many of the operators are not aware why they are feeling how they are feeling.

    This interpreter’s service sounds like an amazing and long overdue support.

    My daughter used to work as a Court Registrar in Toronto at the Criminal Court on University and the stories she would share with me were very traumatic. I am a counsellor at a youth line and a Family Life Educator/facilitator and at least, I sort of know (since reading your material, even more:)), but I was astounded how court reporters, registrars and anyone witnessing intense criminal cases were NOT given any supoport….no debriefing.

    Warm regards,


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