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Non-Western interpreters' experiences of trauma: The protective role of culture following exposure to oppression

Johnson, Howard, Thompson, Andrew ORCID: and Downs, Maria 2009. Non-Western interpreters' experiences of trauma: The protective role of culture following exposure to oppression. Ethnicity and Health 14 (4) , pp. 407-418. 10.1080/13557850802621449

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Many people flee their countries of origin after suffering severe trauma and there is a need to explore how socio-cultural factors are implicated in the experience of both trauma and posttraumatic growth. Interpreters who have been through a trauma are in a unique position to be able to reflect on cultural context. This study explored how interpreters working in the UK who had formerly suffered trauma in their country of origin, and who identified themselves as coping well, managed their experience of trauma. Design. The qualitative method Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used. Nine interpreters were interviewed following a semi-structured guide and the resulting transcripts were analysed according to IPA principles. Results. Three key themes emerged from the data that were labelled as: trauma in the context of wider shared oppression; resisting and responding; and cultural protection and growth. Many participants described their lives prior to arriving in the UK as involving a collective traumatisation as a result of being a victim of oppression related to their cultural identity. The participants described the importance of staying connected to their culture. Giving and providing social support, religious practices, and the role of interpreter facilitated remaining connected. Conclusions. A sense of shared victimisation provided a protective backdrop from which the participants could make sense of the personal traumas they had experienced. The role of interpreting was important as it helped maintain cultural identity. The findings are discussed in relation to theories of both PTSD and Posttraumatic Growth. The results have implications for the work of clinicians supporting non-Western people who have been traumatised.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge): STM, Behavioural Science and Public Health Titles
ISSN: 1355-7858
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2022 10:48

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