Dyad to triad: exploring the presence of the interpreter in the therapeutic relationship with asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland

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Boyle, Bernie
Issue Date
BA Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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This research project set out to explore the presence of the interpreter in the traditional dyadic relationship between client and therapist where the client is an asylum seeker or refugee. It is hoped that this research will serve further the existing knowledge of the complexities inherent in the tryadic relationship and add to the guidelines for good practice. Following a review of the literature on this area, semi- structured interviews were carried out with clinicians and interpreters who work with asylum seekers and refugees in Dublin. Further insights were gained into the ways in which the presence of the interpreter can affect the dyadic relationship and these include: the pragmatics involved; the process of translating and how accurate it is perceived to be; the value of non-verbal communication; the possible deeper cultural lens the interpreter can offer the clinician as well as other facilitative aspects to their presence; the emotional reactions that can be activated in the tryad, arising mainly from the client and interpreter being from the same background, apart from transference, which is where a past relationship reflects itself in how the client communicates with the clinician and potential hindering aspects to the presence of the interpreter. The need for training and subsequent ongoing supervision of all interpreters who work in the therapeutic setting is emphasised and recommendations are given for the continued sharing of ideas on guidelines among practitioners with a view to enhancing the role of the interpreter, while also building on the essential collaborative work between the interpreter and clinician and all with a view to ensuring the best therapeutic outcome for the client.