Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Ruth Chu-Lien Chao

Second Advisor

Andi M. Pusavat

Third Advisor

P. Bruce Uhrmacher

Fourth Advisor

Shimelis Assefa


Interpreter, Mental health, Refugee


The research literature lacks examination into several areas concerning mental health interpretation for refugee clients. This includes the management of interpreters’ vicarious trauma and retraumatization, interpreter’s perspectives on the appropriateness of hiring refugees as mental health interpreters, how interpreters define their trauma as well as their clients’ trauma, and support that interpreters seek for their traumatic responses from their work. The literature is also missing an analysis of how oppressive power differentials are repeated in workplace institutions, specifically for refugee mental health interpreters. Thus, this study aimed to invite the perspectives of refugee mental health interpreters on several issues pertaining to their work with refugee clients.

The method of choice for this study is Critical Narrative Analysis (CNA). Critical Narrative Analysis is a method of analysis that fits within the broader category of hermeneutic phenomenology and combines hermeneutic phenomenology with critical theory (Davidsen, 2013; Langdridge, 2007; Peter & Polgar, 2020). The study utilized criterion-based sampling and there were four participants total.

From the findings, participants were able to respond to the research questions of how they define trauma, what the benefits and harms are of hiring refugees as mental health interpreters are, what power dynamics exist in their workplaces, how they manage their traumatic responses, and what supports they sought for their interpretation work. The results from this study ultimately added to themes that exist in the little literature on this topic and added novel information. For example, one participant used the concept of generational trauma to define their own experience of trauma. Another participant hypothesized about why they had experienced similar experiences as their clients, yet they had responded differently. Additionally, another participant stated how they experienced their trauma collectively, which suggests collective healing methods to respond to collective trauma. This study also aimed to present concrete suggestions of how to aid interpreters and was able to discern several, including specific trainings (e.g. mental health, population-specific, work-life boundaries), breaks between session, and factors in supervision such as positive feedback from supervisors.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Emme Y. Paik


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

138 pgs


Psychology, Mental health