• Interpreters struggle emotionally with the service user stories
  • Interpreters empathize with service users
  • Interpreters feel compelled to help the service user; often to a point of transgressing professional boundaries
  • Interpreters feel torn between wanting to engage with the service user and the professional requirement for impartiality
  • Interpreters leave the profession because of this emotional burden

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AuthorCritical Link International

Is interpreting in health settings, in fact, an act of care?
By: Justine Mason
Wrexham Glyndwr University


Drawing on international research from the last 20 years within Interpreting Studies, nursing and other care professions which considers the emotions experienced by the interpreter when working in health settings, this paper aims to demonstrate that interpreting falls within the definition of an act of care and that as such, there may be 2 complementary paradigms contributing to the profession – an art and a science. It will further argue that in the search for a model of interpreting which both maintains the technical aspect but also engages with the evidence of an affective aspect of the work, the answer may not lie within the field of linguistics and culture and the analysis of the exchanges which take place but in moral philosophy and considerations of the act of interpreting alongside the content of it. Presented first at Critical Link 8, this paper engages with a fuller discussion of the points raised during that presentation and concludes by arguing that the journey to becoming an interpreter must now be reconsidered to encompass affective and empathic processes.

Keywords: interpreting, health, empathy, care, education  

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AuthorCritical Link International

By: Michal Schuster, PhD
Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies
Bar Ilan University

In May 2014, a joint initiative gave birth to Israel’s first medical interpreting course for Tigrinya- and English-speaking asylum seekers.

Besides being unique and inspiring, the course challenged not only the organizers and the participants, but also the Israeli medical establishment, civil society, and policy-makers at large. In this presentation, I share some of our main insights following the course.

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AuthorCritical Link International