Working with Interpreters in Mental Health

Book Cover - Working with InterpretersEdited by Rachel Tribe and Hitesh Raval.
ISBN 0415188792

As this helpful and timely publication makes clear, “interpreting… advances meaning in the fullest linguistic and cultural sense, so that two people are able to understand each other beyond the words” (my emphasis). 

In the urgent need for interpreting services, especially in crises relating to child care and mental health, there is often a danger of  using staff who are not properly trained as interpreters.  

Tribe and Ravel set out the role of the interpreter, which can be considerably broader than simply a translator, and dwell on important issues such as ethical considerations for the work of interpreters.  

The experienced contributors set out a range of issues: interpreters in medical consultations, training, the interpreter’s perspective, theoretical frameworks, specific areas of work like learning difficulties and mental health, and working with refugees. I particularly liked the chapter “From postmen to makers of meaning: a model for collaborative work between clinicians and interpreters”.  

Not a tome for every social worker’s bookshelf, but it is a must for teams, policy units and centres of learning and development. 

Peter Gilbert is a consultant and author of The Value of Everything: Social Work and its Importance in the Field of Mental Health, Russell House Publishing, 2003.

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