Vicarious Trauma and Professional Interpreters
Vicarious trauma has been identified as something that affects the performance and wellbeing of interpreters by experiencing or internalizing someone else’s trauma. Research has confirmed that interpreters are vulnerable to vicarious trauma, burnouts, compassion fatigue, or secondary stress as a result of repeatedly interpreting various traumatic information and experiences.
Not only do interpreters witness the trauma, but channeling the trauma can also affect their perceptions of the world around them and result in anxiety, depression, and other serious mental health issues. First formally brought into the light during the 2001 International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), interpretation was subsequently placed in the category of high-stress professions, with consequences ranging from burnout to vicarious trauma, leading to significant performance impediments. The study that triggered this awareness investigated four sets of parameters: psychological, physiological, physical, and performance, as well as the interactions between them.
Language professionals working in healthcare, in court, in jail, with refugees, with child protective services, with victims of abuse, in war zones, or interpreting during an intense encounter most likely experienced high levels of stress, suffered vicarious trauma, or felt vulnerable during the course of their everyday work.
Drawing from over 25 years of experience in a professional services industry, Ludmila “Mila” Golovine, Founder, President & CEO of MasterWord, a Language Services Provider agency, and an interpreter herself, will speak on the subject of vicarious traumatization not from a scientific but from an insider’s point of view – as a representative of a profession that is vulnerable to this type of trauma.