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Interpreting Practices in a Mental Health Facility

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Interpreting in Mental Health Care facilities requires the application of best practices in order to avoid common drawbacks.

Among many best practices, it is important to have an interpreter briefing prior to meeting with the patient. In this meeting the mental health care provider would be able to explain the goals and objectives of the meeting with the mental health patient. Speaking to the patient directly also helps to convey the information in an effective manner while making the patient feel that the provider is speaking to him or her. Keep the conversation as simple as possible, talking is short sentences helps the interpreter to convey the message in a more effective way. And always try to avoid speaking on top of each other.

Some of common drawbacks are, for example, to expect that the interpreter would perform duties outside their actual role. Interpreters are there to ensure that the patient receives the exact information explained by the health care provider. No more, no less. Interpreters are not supposed to be babysitters of the patient while the nurses are attending to other patients or performing their nursing routines. Being impatient with the interpreter when they are providing the information to the patient could potentially make the patient uncomfortable, and also make the patient feel that the provider is not taking their situation seriously. When a provider uses too technical, colloquial language, slang or idioms, the interpreter could become confused. Simple and clear language ensure productive and effective communication.

Interpreting Practices in a Mental Health Facility is available as a virtual classroom course. It is designed for employees and teams who work with international and multilingual populations and interpreters in a mental health facility setting. By the end of the course, participants will have a better working knowledge of the unique challenges that interpreters experience while on the job and best practices for working with foreign language interpreters and multilingual clients or patients.


The course is structured to be patient and compassion-centric—working in a mental health facility often requires extra training, patience, understanding, and skill. Course topics include the differences between bilingual speakers and trained interpreters, safety while on the job, the boundaries included in the role of an interpreter, and “dos and don’ts” for working with interpreters for extended or long sessions. As interpreters who work in a mental health setting often spend full days with patients, it is especially important to have a thorough understanding of interpreting ethics and professional division.

Duration and format

The course lasts 60 minutes. If requested, we also offer an exam with a certificate upon completion and a passing exam result. The course is structured to broadly engage employees, ensure information retention, and encourage application. The virtual classroom version of the course can be taken at your convenience with a member of our team. The information is updated regularly to meet current standards. If necessary, Interpreting Practices in a Mental Health Facility is further customizable to fit your organization’s needs. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or for more information.

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