[CFP] New Voices in Translation Studies Special Issue

Trauma & Interpreting: Challenges, Current Practice, and Future Directions

Submission of abstract (500 words): 15th September 2021

Notification of conditional acceptance: 4th October 2021

Submission of full paper: 6th December 2021

Publication date: 1st November 2022


Trauma is subjective. It relates to physically or emotionally harmful experiences and their negative and long-lasting impact on an individual’s life, mental and physical health, social interactions, and emotional wellbeing (SAMHSA, 2014). In multicultural contexts, language barriers can only add to the vulnerability of already traumatized users of public, private, and third-sector services. Similarly, power differentials, inadequate interpreting service provision, and an enhanced sense of disempowerment could also lead to (re-)traumatization.

In the last decade, several authors have begun supporting the need for dedicated training for interpreters working with vulnerable or traumatized populations (Toledano Buendia et al., 2016). Most notably, trauma-informed interpreting (TII) (Bambarén-Call et al., 2012) advances the development of a comprehensive interpreter toolkit focused on an empowering practice, strategic mediation, and an understanding of trauma (Bancroft, 2017). Another critical component of such initiatives is self-care strategies to minimize the psychological impact on interpreters—such as vicarious traumatization (Lai et al., 2015)—and enhance positive outcomes, which can, in turn, lead to posttraumatic growth (Splevins, 2010).

Trauma is a prevalent feature in situations of extreme vulnerability, such as the case of refugees and asylum seekers (Carswell et al., 2011). Yet, work with traumatized service users is not limited to individuals with refugee-like experiences. Rather, it encompasses a variety of settings and interpreter-mediated interactions, including humanitarian interpreting (i.e., in the context of war, refugee camps, resettlement, asylum claims, etc.), as well as medical, social, and psychological work with survivors of torture; sexual, gender and family violence; and substance abuse, among others. Additionally, the ramifications of work in such varied and challenging contexts warrant considerations regarding the interpreter’s role (Delgado Luchner & Kherbiche, 2019; Killman, 2019) and the potential impact on interpreter-provider dynamics (d’Ardenne & Farmer, 2009; Mirdal et al., 2012).

New Voices in Translation Studies and guest editors warmly welcome submissions of evidence-based papers from researchers and practitioners related to the theme of ‘Trauma & Interpreting.’ In line with the above discussion, topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Ethical dilemmas for interpreters
  • Intricacies of interpreter role boundaries (e.g., agency, mediation, advocacy)
  • Challenges of interpreting for trauma survivors
  • Complex interactions with service providers in extreme situations
  • Interpreter mental health, support, and emerging needs
  • Interpreter training in this context



Bambarén-Call, AnaMaria, Marjorie Bancroft, Nora Goodfriend-Koven, Karen Hanscom, Nataly Kelly, Virginia Lewis, Cynthia Roat, Lilya Robinson and Lourdes Rubio-Fitzpatrick (2012) Interpreting compassion: A needs assessment report on interpreting for survivors of torture, war trauma and sexual violence. Ellicott City, MD: The Voice of Love. Available online at [http://voice-of-love.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/VOL-Needs-Assessment-Report-final1.pdf] (accessed 21st June 2021).

Bancroft, Marjorie (2017) ‘The Voice of Compassion: Exploring Trauma-Informed Interpreting’, in Carmen Valero-Garcés and Rebecca Tipton (eds). Ideology, ethics and policy development in public service interpreting and translation. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 195-219.

Bergunde, Annika and Sonja Pöllabauer (2019) ‘Curricular design and implementation of a training course for interpreters in an asylum context’. Translation & Interpreting, 11(1), 1-21. Available at [http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/10.12807/ti.111201.2019.a01].

Carswell, Kenneth, Pennie Blackburn, and Chris Barker (2011) ‘The relationship between trauma, post-migration problems and the psychological wellbeing of refugees and asylum seekers’. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 57(2), 107-119. Available at [https://doi.org/ 10.1177/0020764008105699].

d’Ardenne, Patricia and Elly Farmer (2009) ‘Using interpreters in trauma therapy’, in Nick Grey (ed.). A casebook of cognitive therapy for traumatic stress reactions. London: Routledge, 283-300.

Delgado Luchner, Carmen and Leila Kherbiche (2019) ‘Ethics Training for Humanitarian Interpreters Working in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings’, Journal of War & Culture Studies, 12:3, 251-267. Available at [https://doi.org/10.1080/17526272.2019.1644412].

Killman, Jeffrey (2019) ‘Interpreting for asylum seekers and their attorneys: the challenge of agency’. Perspectives, 28(1), 79-89. Available at [https://doi.org/10.1080/0907676X.2019.1615518].

Lai, Miranda, Georgina Heydon and Sedat Mulayim (2015) ‘Vicarious trauma among interpreters’, International Journal of Interpreter Education, 7(1), 3-22. Available at [https://www.cit-asl.org/new/vicarious-trauma-among-interpreters-7-1/] (accessed 21st June 2021).

Mirdal, Gretty M., Else Ryding and Mette Essendrop Sondej (2012) ‘Traumatized refugees, their therapists, and their interpreters: Three perspectives on psychological treatment’, Psychology and psychotherapy: Theory, research and practice, 85(4), 436-455. Available at [https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8341.2011.02036.x].

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2014) SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Available at [https://scholarworks.boisestate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=covid] (accessed 21st June 2021).

Splevins, Katie A., Keren Cohen, Stephen Joseph, Craig Murray and Jake Bowley (2010) ‘Vicarious posttraumatic growth among interpreters’, Qualitative Health Research, 20(12), 1705-1716. Available at [https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732310377457].

Toledano Buendía, Carmen, María Isabel Abril Martí, Maribel del Pozo Triviño and Laura Aguilera Ávila (2016) ‘Towards the specialization of public service interpreters in the area of gender-based violence’. Research, training and professionalization, 139-160. Available at [https://doi.org/10.6035/MonTI.2015.ne2.5].


For this Special Issue, the Editorial Board welcomes two guest editors, Alejandra González Campanella (PhD Candidate in Translation Studies from the University of Auckland) and Agustina Marianacci (Lecturer at  Auckland University of Technology). For further information on how to submit your paper, please refer to New Voices editorial policy and submission guidelines.