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.


The Critical Link: Interpreters in the Community

Papers from the 1st international conference on interpreting in legal, health and social service settings, Geneva Park, Canada, 1–4 June 1995
Edited by Silvana E. Carr, Roda P. Roberts, Aideen Dufour and Dini Steyn
Vancouver Community Col. / Univ. of Ottawa / Ministry of Attorney-General, Ontario / Open Learning Agency, Br. Columbia
What is community interpreting? What are the roles of the community interpreter? What are the standards, evaluation methods and accreditation procedures pertaining to community interpreting? What training is available or required in this field?

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