The briefing process allows for the service provider and the interpreter to form a professional alliance. Briefing allows both parties to explore aspects of the professional partnership that will ensure the consumer receives the best support.
In the following video, Rasha, a Consultant Psychiatrist, reflects on what she has learnt through her work with interpreters, and how the process of briefing helps her “cement a collaborative approach to meeting with a client”.
The interpreter will work best if provided with some background information on the consumer and knows the goals of the upcoming meeting. This should be addressed in the briefing process.
It should also be mentioned that you will require time for debriefing at the end of the encounter.
Both the interpreter and the service provider should take the time to introduce themselves and to clarify their roles to promote a mutually respectful collaborative relationship.
Interpreters work with professionals from a variety of disciplines, each with its own practice principles, tools, jargon and forms of shorthand for complex concepts. It should not be assumed that the interpreter is familiar with such issues in the mental health discipline. The briefing is the perfect time to explore whether the interpreter has had any experience working in mental health settings and briefly discuss their past experiences.
The interpreter should receive an outline of the session which includes a list of who will be there, what will be discussed, and any anticipated specialised concepts and language.
Service providers should also take the time to go through any forms they may want to use during the appointment. This will allow the interpreter to ask for any clarification they may need, as well as anticipate any translation issues that could occur.
While the interpreter brings useful cultural knowledge, it is important that they do not edit any information to suit the consumer’s background. (State Government of Victoria, 2014). This should be discussed in the briefing, with the suggestion that any cultural connotations be discussed in the debrief.
Interpreters and service providers should decide whether they will use simultaneous or consecutive interpreting mode.
The ‘Consecutive’ mode of Interpreting refers to information being interpreted after the client/family member/clinician has made a few points
The ‘Simultaneous’ mode of interpreting refers to information being interpreted at the same time the client/family member/clinician is speaking.
Finally it is important to plan for safety contingencies before meeting with the consumer. For example, explain any safety procedures such as distress alarms that are unique to your organisation.strategies to ensure accessibility within organisations:
Depending on the type of interview and the number of people in attendance, different seating arrangements will support the purpose of the meeting.
In a large or group meeting situation, the seating should be arranged in a circular formation, the interpreter should be seated next to the mental health staff member and close to the consumer so they are able to understand the proceedings with minimum disruption to others.
When the meeting involves only a client, interpreter and a mental health staff member, seating should be in a triangle formation.
When interpreting with family, carers or more than two people, it is advisable to arrange the seating in a horse-shoe or circle formation, with the interpreter seated next to the mental health staff member.
Note: For deaf or hearing-impaired consumers, seating and lighting arrangements should be adjusted to ensure clear signing communication to take place. Generally, the Auslan interpreter will sit or stand next to the main speaker and opposite the deaf person.