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Unread October 9th, 2010, 07:52 AM
sk8rgrl23 sk8rgrl23 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 53
Default Re: Language Fluency

Two sides of the same coin. Classic ethical dilemma of potential pitfalls no matter what you do.

I've had several instances at the agency where a translator was involved, mostly Spanish speaking, but a couple Russian, one where the wife didn't speak a word of English and her husband translated her Russian. I speak a smattering of Russian as well-no claims to being able to do sessions in Russian, though!-so I could pick up on what she was talking about, but having an interpreter in this day and age does involve potentially unsavory situations. What comes to mind is the sex-slave trade or situations where a partner is completely dominating the client and posing as interpreter to maintain control of a session. I've never been aware of this happening, but somewhere in this country it's conceivable that it could happen.

On the side of not using an interpreter, I think the biggest risks are of perhaps missing a veiled reference to suicide, or someone misunderstanding a recommendation I make. To respond to those risks, I ask clarifying questions, and check with the client for understanding. Also, indicators of suicide are so much more than any particular statement or threat, with any client I am gauging (or is it guaging?gageing?ghagging?ghghgh I think I'm choking....) my client's circumstances and how they seem to be responding to them-hopelessness, realistic plans for the future, strength of relationships...always with the "big picture" in mind. I'm also never afraid to ask directly about suicide.

As for the less concrete issues pertaining culture and language competence, I agree that I'm not as qualified as perhaps an Hispanic counselor, though, in the spirit of the Rosetta stone, you could get into discussions about the same cultural competence here, as there are so many different Hispanic cultures, with different sets of idioms, and going that further, you could take a British counselor and plant him in our humble little Wood county in this little corner of Ohio, and he would speak the language, but probably miss the idioms as well.

Ah, ethics is such a messy thing!
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