Self-care as an ethical responsibility
A pilot study on support provision for interpreters in human crises
This article presents a pilot research project which examined the effectiveness of remote, formal support, provided by Colleagues Across Borders, for volunteer interpreters in an immigration detention support NGO. We consider the occupational stress and susceptibility to vicarious traumatization and burnout for interpreters working in sensitive (e.g., refugee) contexts. It is argued that it is an ethical responsibility to keep oneself fit and well-prepared to perform interpreting assignments to the highest standards. The project offered an intervention of remote support for non-professional interpreters in a detention center who needed professional advice and emotional relief. Analysis of pre- and post-intervention focus groups and questionnaires indicates an improvement in self-care, resilience, confidence, and effectiveness after three support sessions, suggesting that a remote yet personal support program can mitigate the effects of vicarious trauma and burnout for non-professional and professional interpreters working in ethically challenging refugee contexts.