The third person in the room: The impact of the interpreter on the counselling process with non-English speaking clients
thesisposted on 17.01.2018, 10:01 by Merih Bektas Fidan
This study explores the dynamics of the triadic therapeutic relationship between interpreters, counsellors and non-English speaking clients in a triangular research design. It comprises three parts: In part one, two focus groups were held with a group of interpreters and of counsellors to explore common issues and general concerns that were pertinent to the relevant fields. In part two, twenty-nine semi-structured individual interviews were carried out with another group of interpreters and counsellors with the aim of exploring the issues that arose in the focus groups. In part three, a group of clients were interviewed to explore their experiences of receiving emotional help through interpreters. Participants were recruited through interpreting agencies and counselling organisations. The data was analysed, using Thematic Analysis. The overarching themes show that all the participants wanted to trust each other and expected to be trusted by the others. Confidentiality came out as a common concern across the data sets. Translation and language issues, cultural matters and organisational restraints were found to be barriers to establishing a working alliance. All participants expected practitioners, including language interpreters, to have relevant knowledge, awareness of their own strength and weaknesses, to be critical and flexible, and to demonstrate certain personal qualities. Overall, the participants were apprehensive about the triadic therapeutic process which they found to be emotional and full of surprises. They also found the process helpful and rewarding. The findings of this triangulated research suggest that mental health interventions and relevant educational programmes for counsellors and interpreters should address the complex needs of a multicultural client group and include an understanding of three-dimensional relationships.