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Working with Foreign Language Interpreters: Guidelines for Substance Abuse Clinicians and Human Service Practitioners

NCJ Number
Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly Volume: 15 Issue: 4 Dated: (1997) Pages: 75-88
M Amodeo; D Grigg-Saito; N Robb
Date Published
14 pages
This article describes the benefits and difficulties for clinicians of working with foreign language interpreters.
The article offers recommendations for effective communication including holding pre-session clinician-interpreter meetings to review the content of the upcoming session, identify unfamiliar terminology, and emphasize the positive role of the interpreter. Benefits of clinicians working with interpreters include reducing the client's sense of isolation and furnishing an added dimension of support, and providing an opportunity for mainstream American agencies to learn about cultural dynamics and ways that health and illness are viewed and treated by other ethnic groups. Difficulties of the arrangement include the increased risk of error in the communication process as information is passed through one individual to reach another, and the possibility that the clinician accustomed to doing individual counseling may regard the interpreter as an intrusion that dilutes development of a therapeutic alliance. Note, references