Mental Health Interpreting Guidelines for Interpreters

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An interaction between a mental health professional and a person with a mental illness is in many ways different from an interaction between a general healthcare professional and a person with a physical condition. In a mental health interaction, elicitation and demonstration of symptoms, monitored testing, initial diagnosis, therapy, recovery and/or management of symptoms all occur via interactions where the ability to openly communicate, to build rapport and to gain the trust and confidence are critical. Where the mental health professional and the person with a mental illness do not have a common language, the work of the interpreter in building this relationship is critical. The mental health interpreter’s renditions therefore play a key role in the work of the mental health professional, as s/he is reliant on these to work effectively with the patient.
There are guidelines that inform mental health professionals on how to work with interpreters, eg. the VTPU’s Guidelines for working effectively with interpreters in mental health settings. (2006), AUSIT’s Guidelines for Health Professionals Working with Interpreters (2007) with a 2-page section on mental health and the APS’s Working with Interpreters: A Practice Guide for Psychologists (2013). From the perspective of the interpreter, guidelines exist for sign language interpreting in ASLIA’s Guidelines for Interpreting in Mental Health Settings (2011) which describe parameters of interpreting practice with both mental health professionals and patients. The guidelines contained in this document build on ASLIA’s (2011) guidelines, and encompass both spoken and sign language interpreters.
The guidelines in this document provide the following: definitions of key terms, protocols, a discussion of ethical considerations, self-care in mental interpreting, content knowledge, and patients’ rights and legal terms. Information on medico-legal tribunals and legislation is also provided.These guidelines are intended to assist interpreters so that they can work optimally in mental health interactions with both mental health professional and patient.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages55
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2017

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