The impact of compassion fatigue (CF) on frontline professionals has been widely researched. However, interpreters often work alongside frontline professionals and are exposed to similar traumatic experiences. Despite this, there is a dearth of research exploring the impact of CF on interpreters. Mental health sign language interpreters (SLIs) are believed to be at a higher risk of developing CF compared to other professionals due to high engagement with therapeutic content, demands of their role, and low perception of control over those demands. Research demonstrates that working with children increases one’s risk of developing CF further. Nevertheless, there has been no known research investigating the impact of CF on mental health SLIs working with children. This qualitative study aimed to explore this impact and the factors that may prevent CF from developing. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven mental health SLIs working with children in mental health services in England between March and May 2018. An inductive thematic analysis highlighted five themes: 1) emotional challenges of the job, 2) ruminating on patient’s emotions and experiences, 3) consequences of interpreting dilemmas, 4) becoming used to interpreting emotional sessions, and 5) benefits of obtaining support. Findings urge organizations involved in the development of interpreting guidelines, interpreter training, and those that require interpreting services, to consider the implications of CF and measures that can be taken to prevent it.
Zafirah, Noor Khatijah; Dyer, Annabella; and Hamshaw, Richard J. T.
"The Impact of Compassion Fatigue on Mental Health Sign Language Interpreters Working with Children: A Thematic Analysis,"
Journal of Interpretation: Vol. 28:
2, Article 7.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unf.edu/joi/vol28/iss2/7