Interpreters and Vicarious Trauma

Interpreters and Vicarious Trauma

Medical interpreters are regularly exposed to pain, suffering and the emotional trauma of others.  Interpreters are vulnerable to the psychological, physiological, and emotional risks inherent in the profession. Vicarious trauma symptoms are elevated displays of chronic stress resulting from a work environment that involves witnessing trauma along with emotional challenges often seen in emergency rooms, trauma units and critical care settings.  In this training module we will define compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma and interpreters will learn how to recognize the symptoms.  We will identify contributing factors of vicarious trauma and explore strategies for coping with and reducing the risk of compassion fatigue or burnout through self care techniques. Interpreters will finish this module gaining an understanding that the most important aspect of coping with the intense nature of this type of work is to first acknowledge that secondary trauma exists, that compassion and empathy are what make us human, and that developing a coping strategy to deal with stress is crucial to self preservation.