Many torture survivors do not speak English as their first language, and it might be necessary to have an interpreter be part of sessions with that survivor.

Interpreters take the spoken word in one language and change it into the spoken word in a second language. (Note that a translator takes the written word in one language and changes it into the written word in a second language.) The materials on this page pertain to interpreters.

Most health-related sessions are interpreted consecutively, meaning the interpreter speaks after the provider or the survivor finishes.

Interpreter training

This PowerPoint was developed by the Program for Survivors of Torture for use in training interpreters, and may be useful to you in creating your own introductory materials for interpreters.


These three glossaries (dental, intake, and psychotherapy) were created by the Program for Survivors of Torture to help interpreters make sure they are prepared for different types of interpreting.

Online Book

Healing the Hurt: A Guide for Developing Services for Torture Survivors


The International Medical Interpreters Association has a good page on terminology, as well as other resources. It also has a document on the IMIA standards of practice: These standards of practice developed by the IMIA were developed in 1996 and updated in 2007. This document outlines the role of an interpreter in a clinical setting and provides standards of practice on interpretation, cultural competency, and ethics. Additionally the document contains an evaluation tool. This document can be used in the development of a training program for interpreters, as an evaluation tool, and in preparing health care providers to work with interpreters.

The Cross Cultural Health Care Program offers training for medical interpreters in many locations, and a variety of publications for purchase.

Information on working with specific populations


Communicating Effectively Through an Interpreter. From the Cross Cultural Health Care Program, this excellent 28-minute video is available for $150.


Traumatized refugees, their therapists, and their interpreters: Three perspectives on psychological treatment

Mirdal, G. M., Ryding, E. and Essendrop Sondej, M. (2012), Traumatized refugees, their therapists, and their interpreters: Three perspectives on psychological treatment. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theo, Res, Pra, 85: 436–455. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8341.2011.02036.x

Working with Interpreters: Service Provision with Torture Survivors

This Information Guide from the National Partnership in Community Training outlines specific mechanics of therapy appointments and interactions with interpreters, including how to best work with an interpreter prior to, during, and after a mental health appointment. It addresses  Trauma-Informed Care and Modes of Interpretation.