A post-session discussion between the interpreter and the service provider provides an opportunity to discuss the quality of communication during the session.
In the same way clinicians need support in their practice, time should be allotted to talk with the interpreter after each meeting with the consumer. This allows the clinician to reflect on the process and flow of the interview, as well as provide the interpreter with debriefing support as required.
Reflect: Look back on the process
Many topics may be addressed by reflecting on the process of interpreting in the interview.
Firstly, discussion should explore any issues relating to respective roles during the interview. This is an opportunity for both the service provider and the interpreter to bring up any concerns.
Secondly, time should be allotted to reflect on what was said by exploring specific comments and linguistic complexities that arose during the interview. This is an opportunity for service providers to learn from the interpreter by allowing them the space to elaborate on particularities of the language or the cultural context. It is important to remember that service providers are working with the interpreter as a team. Discussing linguistic intricacies provides an opportunity to deepen the collaborative understanding of the consumer.
Finally, both team members should review any issues that were identified as requiring particular attention before the meeting.
Support: Debrief as required
While interpreters should ideally receive supervision and support from their employer and agency, it is also necessary for mental health workers with whom they are collaborating to provide them with ‘supervisory’ support.
An interpreter may need to discuss any distressing or traumatic material covered in the session, for example where there has been violence, self-harm or difficulties in calming someone, or where there was a family crisis. There may be a particular need for such a discussion if an interpreter has had similar experiences to a refugee or asylum seeker client who recounts traumatic experiences.
Time should be allotted for the interpreter to discuss any aspect of the meeting they may have found confusing or distressing. Where an interpreter requires more intensive individual debriefing, the interpreter should be encouraged to seek supervision and support with the interpreting agency.
As they are a member of the team, interpreter should be included in any formal mental health service debriefing necessitated by incidents or distressing interview material.
In the following video, Dan, a mental health clinician working in a Crisis Assessment Treatment Team, reflects on how he approaches his work with interpreters, including practices to debrief with interpreters following a session.