Under Pressure

Methods for coping with conflict as an interpreter

Presenter: Robyn Pask

Interpreters often find themselves working in high-intensity fields, such as the criminal justice system and for people of refugee background, many of whom may have been the victims of trauma. Although the interpreter’s role is usually quite strictly bounded, invariably some interpreters may find themselves negatively impacted by their assignments, particularly when the nature of the interpreting assignments repeatedly involves traumatic or violent experiences. This can result in burnout, vicarious traumatization (also known as secondary traumatization), or even post-traumatic stress disorder. What can be done to minimise the risks of this happening?
This presentation will provide an overview of self-care guidelines for interpreters. It is aimed at helping interpreters recognise signs of being negatively impacted by assignments, as well as proposing steps interpreters themselves can take to reduce the deleterious effects of such work.
The content is taken largely from a paper written by Crezee, Atkinson, Pask, Au and Wong (in press), which in turn was sparked by a panel discussion at the NZSTI Conference in Auckland in 2011, chaired by Robyn Pask. This presentation reviews the various stressors interpreters encounter in their jobs and proposes a series of self-care practices.

Crezee, I., Atkinson, D., Pask, R., Au, P., & Wong, S. (in press). When interpreting leaves interpreters negatively affected: Teaching (student) interpreters about self-care. International Journal of Interpreter Education

Robyn PaskAbout the Presenter
Robyn Pask is Chief Executive of Interpreting New Zealand, a role she has held since June 2010. During that time she has formed a deep understanding of the challenges interpreters face in their work, and has changed the practices at Interpreting New Zealand to provide better support to its employees.
Prior to taking on her current role, Robyn was actively involved in workplace training, including two years managing a team of trainers across the Asia-Pacific region within a multi-national company. In her previous role with the Immigration Department, she worked closely with representatives from migrant and refugee communities and other agencies involved in migrant and refugee settlement in New Zealand. Robyn has a Bachelor of Education in Adult Education.