Tips For Handling Emotions and Stress While Interpreting

Tips For Handling Emotions and Stress While Interpreting

Medical interpreting is a fast-paced and intimate profession. Depending on where you work you may find yourself interpreting for many different medical appointments throughout a day, where you always have to be focused.

You will also be privy to some of the most intimate details of a person’s life, their past and present illnesses and their emotions as they journey through their medical procedure. At times this can be extremely taxing on interpreters, who must become a conduit of the patient’s experiences, and emotional reactions are common.

Types of emotional reactions medical interpreters often experience:

  1. StressStress Management For Medical Interpreters
  2. Sorrow
  3. Anger
  4. Anxiety
  5. Helplessness
  6. Attachment
  7. Fear
  8. Indignation
  9. Depression
  10. Exhaustion

While it is normal for medical interpreters to get emotional, letting it take over can inhibit proper job performance. Medical interpreters must remain objective and focused to guarantee they don’t miscommunicate information between doctors and patients. If they let emotions get the better of them, they risk doing just that.

So if you do experience emotional reactions while interpreting, how do you deal with them to ensure you’re able to stay healthy and excel at your job?

Emotional and Stress Management For Medical Interpreters

Stress Management Tips For Medical Interpreters There are many techniques people employ to manage their emotions as medical interpreters, and each person will have a different method that works best for them.

In one of our previous posts about managing stress as a medical interpreter we touched upon some ways outside of work that you can stay emotionally healthy while interpreting, specifically when you feel as though you’re experiencing another’s pain.

But what do you do if in the moment you suddenly feel an overwhelming emotional reaction to what a doctor or patient says?

Check out the following tips regarding stress management for medical interpreters while they are interpreting:

  1. If you begin feeling anxious or upset, take deep breaths while listening to doctors and patients speaking to calm yourself.
  2. Choose a point in the room to focus on when relaying information that is difficult, giving you something to focus on aside from the information you’re conveying.
  3. Avoid the stress of getting stuck if, in a particularly emotional moment, you forget a word by making sure you always carry a dictionary with you.
  4. Focus on the words themselves that you must relay instead of the overall context of the situation.
  5. If you begin to feel helpless or upset while interpreting, remind yourself that what you’re doing does affect patients’ health in a positive way, and without an interpreter they may not be getting the help they need.

Of course, medical interpreters are only human – there are only so many tips on stress management for medical interpreters you can read, and there will be times when you won’t be able to control how you react to certain scenarios. Do your best to remain as calm as possible, but if you don’t think you can, excuse yourself briefly from the room.

With experience and training you will be more adapt to handling extreme emotional distress. Remember that what you do outside of work to cope with emotional wellbeing is just as important as what you do while interpreting to maintaining your composure on the job.

Training To Be A Medical Interpreter

Stress Management For InterpretersGaining experience is the best way to prepare yourself for the variety of scenarios you can encounter as a medical interpreter. Language Connections’ Medical Interpreter Course offers you exposure to a variety of techniques that you will use on the job, and prepares you for real life situations through a variety of role plays and vocabulary learning.

Our teachers are all experienced medical interpreters, who will be able to speak with you about different scenarios where you can expect high levels of stress and emotion, as well as how best to handle them.

Medical interpreting is a rewarding career – emotions are part of what you can expect while working; however, they don’t have to be inhibiting. With proper training and experience, you’ll be able to cope with difficult situations while still providing a much needed service to non-English speaking individuals.

Don’t wait; begin your training to become a medical interpreter today!

Get the necessary, in person training in order to become a competent professional interpreter. Register now for one of our interpreter training programs: Medical Interpreter Training, Legal Interpreter Training or Community & Business Interpreter Training.

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