Vicarious trauma can be a phrase heard often in the victim service and medical professions. Crisis responders testify to the trauma that the clients and patients experience and therefore are routinely provided opportunities to release some of the emotional burden their work encompasses. - interpreters and translators
Professional translators and interpreters act as language tools and therefore are expected to perform like machines. Yet the very real nature of the interpreter's assignments has an emotional and physical impact that, if unaddressed, can significantly impair an individual's ability to perform their job. Language professionals might find that they are completing their assignments in a timely manner, but that they are unable to leave behind the images of these client's experience. Whether transcribing a police interview, interpreting during a medical crisis, or translating a sufferer statement, language professionals are not given the opportunity to debrief following a stressful event.
Research has revealed that when our brains are triggered by way of a dangerous event or trauma (either physical or emotional), the limbic system "hijacks" the mind temporarily. The left side from the brain shuts down as well as the right side from the brain takes over. Unfortunately to have an interpreter, language is controlled by the left brain. If an interpreter has experienced a similar event or feels empathy for the client, he or she may struggle with finding the appropriate words to interpret the client's experience. The interpreter may get out of the appointment saying, "What just happened- I'm normally so good at what I do?"
The signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma, including anxiety, anger and self doubt, were relayed by interpreters and translators who were working on projects for that TI Center. Our translators reported feeling agitated and sad, reading their completed translations over and over, doubting themselves as well as their competency.
As a result, the TI Center staff, together with staff at the Denver Center for Crime Victims, began researching how they could help language professionals view the impact of interpreting others' stress and trauma and recapture their energy for working with the public.
In response, the TI Center has launched a 6-hour workshop, entitled Health Enabling for Language Professionals (HELP). Participants will learn how to cope with the emotional and physical challenges that you face as a language professional. Become familiar with how the brain and body react to trauma then practice some proven stress management techniques. By the end of the workshop you will end up a stronger more positive person, both professionally and personally. - interpreters and translators