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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Counselling through interpretation : the meaning of the collaborative interpreter's experience of re-creating therapeutic intent across languages and cultures Grant, Karen Jean


Few studies concerning the appropriate use of interpreters in counselling exist despite the changing demographics in Canada that indicate the likelihood of an increased need for this service (Health Canada, 2001). It has been suggested that in order to fully develop standards of practice in this area, the neglected perspective of the interpreter must be included (Granger & Baker, 2002). The intent of the present research was to address this absence by inquiring into the experience of the collaborative interpreter. This role is arguably the most complex, requiring the interpreter to provide language and cultural access as well as engage in the therapeutic process. Four collaborative interpreters from three different cultural and language groups were interviewed. Each had received basic training in a constructivist therapy modality, and worked for at least seven years with a dominant-culture, English-speaking therapist in a community based counselling program for immigrants and refugees. A hermeneutical phenomenological method was used to generate a description of the common meaning structures of the collaborative interpreter’s experience. The advantage of this method was that it could address the multiple cultural contexts and multiple languages involved in this study, and still be sensitive to the lifeworld of the collaborative interpreter. As an interpretive inquiry, the results produced descriptions of three meta-themes. These themes illuminate the essential meaning of the collaborative interpreter’s contextualized experience of a relational self. They include the collective self, which is an understanding of self as “we” distributed among the relationships formed by the counselling triad; the distinct self, which describes the heightened awareness and reconciliation of self as “other” in the triad; and the merged self, which describes the experience of self as the instrument of a functional alliance. Implications for interpreter use in multicultural counselling are discussed.

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